Things You Should Know About Divorce Laws in the US

Your first encounter with the US justice system may come when you are facing a divorce, except for the few times you appeared in court for violating traffic laws.  Without a doubt, dealing with attorneys, courts, and the United States’ large legal system can be a daunting task. In order to prepare yourself for what is to come and enhance your confidence, you should increase your knowledge of the basics of the divorce law in the US, and the legal procedures required to get a divorce. Read on to increase your basic understanding of the US divorce laws and processes.

Not Everyone Can Get a Divorce

If you want to get a divorce, you are required to satisfy some state requirements. Below are the most common requirements most states would want you to meet:

1. Although there are few states in the US that do not have residency requirements, most states do necessitate that one or both of the divorcing spouses be the resident of that state for at least a specified period of time (based on state) in order to be eligible for a divorce. Majority states have a six-month residency condition.

2. You can only get divorced in the state where you actually live. In other words, you cannot get divorced in any other state, including the state where you got married, but only in the state where you have real residency.

3. There are some states in the US that require you to separate from your spouse for a certain period of time before being granted divorce. This requirement works on the idea that you and your spouse may have a change of mind, and may want to reunite.

Settling Down Concrete Matters

Prior to finalizing your divorce, you and your spouse are required by law to settle down some important matters. This also applies to those couples that have legally separated before filing petition for divorce.

Below are some issues you must resolve:

1. The legal system can make it highly complicated as to who gets what when you file for divorce. The laws you would find yourself dealing with include property laws, and tax laws, let alone each law’s complicated interpretations. Therefore, it is best to decide with mutual consent as to how your property would be divided between the two of you. This is especially important when you and your spouse have amassed a substantial amount of property and do not have a prenup.

2. You and your spouse are required to decide if anyone of you has to pay alimony or spousal support. If yes, who will pay the support, how much and for how long?

3. You and your spouse are also required to decide who will pay child support, and who will take custody of the children if there are children from your marriage. This is one of the most important matters to be revolved because it has emotional aspect to it. Moreover, as per federal directive, each state has got its own guidelines to decide the minimum amount of child support to be paid when parents divorce.

If you work with your spouse to make these decisions before filing a petition for divorce, the process can be fast and less costly. In case, you fail to resolve these issues, or if you think that there are intricate factors involved in your divorce, the process can take more time and money. For example, if your marital asset or debt is considerable, you have to seek legal assistance and appear in a court to get the matter resolved.

Older women who have never worked outside the home particularly face a hard time finding a good-paying job after divorce. If you find yourself in this scenario, you should demand enough alimony for an extended length of time to maintain a decent life after divorce. Bear in mind, however, that if your divorce is bitter, your spouse may challenge your demand for the alimony.

How Divorce Courts Make Decisions

Each state has its own guidelines and laws governing divorce. These laws and regulations set the basic agenda and perimeter for settling the important matters that must be revolved ahead of your divorce. The divorce laws and guiding principles are flexible to some extent.

As you and your spouse proceed through the divorce process, both of you get substantial latitude on resolving most of those matters, provided that both of you are in agreement.  

As you and your spouse determine the division of your marital assets, alimony, and child support and custody, you should suppose a family law judge is overseeing you. In simple words, both of you are expected to make decisions that are just, fair, and within the perimeter of your state laws. Moreover, whatever you decide should imitate an appreciation of what the court would likely decide if your divorce were to conclude there.

Besides other dynamics, local traditions, customs and cultural values can have substantial impact on the consequences of a divorce. For example, a family law judge in a conservative community within a state may resolve the same matters, such as alimony, fairly differently than a judge in a moderate society of the same state.

Family law judges are sharp, and they have substantial prudence in how they decipher the law. Moreover, you might be thinking that all judges make decisions without partiality, but the truth is that sometimes their judgments pass through their personal biases, penchants, notions, and experiences before being announced.

For instance, if the judge hearing your case has recently experienced a divorce and thinks that his or her ex-spouse plundered him or her of a great deal of money, chances are the judgment will be overshadowed by his personal experience and beliefs. Even though you are free to appeal a judge’s decree, there is little chance to win.

Remember, divorce laws help decide legal and financial matters. However, they will never resolve the resentment, shame, distress, or grief you may experience. Never expect the laws to do that for you. Frustration, anger and sadness are the byproducts of a divorce, and they would naturally disappear with the passage of time.

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