Divorce may be one of the most complicated areas of family law. Not only is there a great deal of paper work that must be reviewed and filed, but you must deal with the emotional factors as well. Add to this the fact that your finances and assets are at stake and it can be down right overwhelming.
An action for divorce not only requires that grounds for divorce be shown, but also requires equitable distribution of marital assets and in some cases, maintenance to be paid to the spouse with less earning potential.
Once grounds for divorce have been established, the main focus becomes dividing up the marital assets. Marital assets are those which are attributable to the expenditure of efforts by either party during the marriage and often include homes, cars, pension plans, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, and in some cases even professional degrees and licenses.
In distributing such assets, courts consider a list of factors established by law including duration of marriage, age and health of parties, standard of living both during the marriage and once division becomes effective, income and earning potential of each party and how the other party contributed to that potential, how each party contributed to the rise or fall in value of marital property, and a host of others factors including any factors the court deems relevant.
In addition to distribution, if one spouse is dependent on the other, the court may require the non-dependent spouse to pay maintenance. In considering an award for maintenance, courts consider a list of factors similar, though not entirely, to those in asset distribution. Contrary to popular belief maintenance is neither a punishment, nor a reward, but more of a mechanism to establish a standard of living similar to that enjoyed during the marriage. Maintenance can be permanent, temporary, rehabilitative, or for reimbursement.
To further complicate matters, if the parties have a minor child, custody, parenting time and child support must also be determined. The main consideration in these matters is what is in the best interest of the child. As a rule the parent not receiving custody will receive parenting time and pay child support. However, the non-custodial parent’s time with the child may be supervised or denied if the relationship is deemed harmful to the child. Child support is typically fixed by a formula, but in many cases can be altered by a number of factors. This is true if the non-custodial parent is unemployed, or makes in excess of $150,800 a year.
It should also be noted that all of these factors can later be modified should circumstances change after the divorce is finalized.
In a divorce action, both the Plaintiff and the Defendant have a great deal of paperwork that must be filed with the court. These documents must be drafted and filed correctly. Failure to do so could drastically affect the outcome of your case.
If you are served with a divorce complaint, or if you would like to file for divorce, it is important that you take every step to ensure that you don’t jeopardize the outcome. While divorce is always difficult, don’t risk making it worse. Call William C. Miller at (732) 742-5556 to schedule a free consultation.