The current divorce rate in the United States is about 1 in every 4 marriages. For some, the process is seamless and harmonious, but for many others, it is a frustrating and emotional experience. When both parties have difficulty agreeing on the terms of the divorce, hiring legal representation may be a necessary step in order to get closer to a finalized divorce decree. This is especially important when seeking financial support such as alimony and child support. The following information will discuss the divorce process specifically alimony, child support, and legal representation.
The petition for divorce
The first step in any divorce is to file a petition. This legal document can be created by either party. Once it is served to the other party, he or she must respond by either agreeing or disagreeing to the information contained in the petition. If the spouse on the receiving end, also called the respondent, agrees with the divorce but not the terms, he or she can file a response stating just that. Each state has specific guidelines on how and when to respond to the petition.
The details of the petition may vary depending on the state it is filed in. Most states agree the document should provide information regarding the following three main components:
- – Grounds for the divorce: the grounds or reason for divorce must be clearly stated in the petition. All states recognize some type of “no-fault” reason where it is inferred that the decision is mutual and neither party is the reason for the divorce.
- – Information regarding children: the petition should identify the names and ages of all children. It should also state the type of desired custody arrangement (i.e., sole or joint custody).
- – Financial matters: this includes the division of physical property such as furniture, vehicles, real estate and other physical items that were acquired as part of the marriage. There are other important financial matters that include alimony (also referred to as spousal support) and child support. While most states recognize child support as a necessity for the health and well-being of the child or children, not all states recognize alimony as such. In addition, each state’s guidelines vary in how they calculate the amount of support and for how long the arrangement will exist. The amount of child support is typically based on the income of the parents and the number of children. In states that award alimony, it is usually a one-time amount or monthly payments are required for a specific period of time (i.e., until the receiving spouse can get back on his or her feet).
In the event that you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of your divorce, specifically the resulting financial obligations, a divorce attorney may be the best option. Sometimes, couples get to a point that any suggestion from the other person grates the nerves. It is often necessary to turn to a neutral person who can facilitate negotiation without the layers of emotion. When it comes to alimony and child support, it is very difficult to change the arrangement once it has been determined. It is better to have a divorce lawyer Tampa, FL trusts there to help you from the beginning.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at The McKinney Law Group for their insight into family law, alimony, and child support.