1.-3. Child Custody , Parenting Time, and Child Support Issues involving your children will be THE most important issues in your divorce.
No matter the relationship between you and your spouse, you two must work together in order to ensure the emotional and physical safety and well being of the children. Parents are encouraged to shelter the children from the animosity that they are experiencing and to that end, the Children's Bill of Rights was developed. (see insert) The law recognizes that children benefit when both parents are involved in their lives. For that reason, it is most often advisable that the parents establish joint legal custody and a shared parenting arrangement. It is important to note that BOTH parents have rights and responsibilities for the children - it is a misconception to believe that fathers do not have the same rights as mothers. The ideal situation is for the parents to develop a parenting plan that works "realistically" with their schedules and which allows both parents access to the children and all of their activities. Child support is not optional and will be calculated to ensure that there are funds to support the children and provide for their needs.
4. Spousal support
Alimony... the word makes many divorcing couples unhappy. However, the support of a dependant ex-spouse is a reality that must be faced in many different scenarios. Many times, one spouse will be the primary wage earner during the marriage and, as a result, when there is a divorce that spouse must still provide support to the dependent spouse. It is vital that you protect yourself during the divorce process to ensure that the proper amount of spousal support is awarded.
5. Selling properties that you own (houses/land/time shares)
Your home and any land that you may have purchased during the marriage must be divided. The same may hold true - in certain circumstances - for land and/or property purchased by one spouse prior to the marriage. It is important to note that simply having one name on the Deed may not insulate that property from the other spouse. If you own property or if you believe that you are entitled to property owned by your spouse, it is vital that you seek legal advice to protect your rights and interests.
6.Evaluating pension and other types of retirement accounts
Next to any property acquired during the marriage, pensions and retirement accounts are usually the second largest asset that must be evaluated when couples divorce. It is imperative that each spouse understand that the "marital portion" of all money earned during their marriage must be divided - and that is true of money that was put into the checking or savings account as well as money that was set aside to grow in pension and retirement accounts. It is important for your future financial security that you seek legal counsel to ensure that your rights are protected.
7. Paying off your debts
Just as marital assets must be divided, marital debts must be paid. Generally speaking, debts that are incurred during the marriage are shared by the couple regardless of who made the actual purchase. Naturally there are always exceptions to the general rule which is why it is vital to ensure that any and all marital debts are identified so that appropriate arrangements can be made during the divorce process to pay these debts.
8. Dividing up all of your personal property
It goes without saying that all of the "stuff" you've accumulated during your marriage must be divided. Prepare a list of those items that you must have and understand that discussions will have to take place with regard to all of the rest.
9. How long will the process take?
Generally speaking it will take between 6 and 12 months for your divorce to go through. The length of time is dependent upon the amount of work that is needed to evaluate your assets and liabilities. More importantly, the time is dependant upon how effectively you and your spouse can negotiate the terms of your divorce.
10. How much will it cost me to get a divorce?
The cost of your divorce will be dependant upon the amount of work that is required. Legal fees and costs can be minimized if you and your spouse understand that each will have to make compromises in the divorce process and by retaining counsel early in the process and working towards an amicable resolution of all issues.
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