Experienced Team of Divorce Law Attorneys
Do you need legal assistance with your divorce? Are you worried about property and asset division or arrangements regarding your children? If so, you need to secure the legal services of a skilled divorce attorney today.
If handled improperly or too late, a divorce proceeding can lead to unfavorable outcomes that could last for the rest of your life. It is critical that you hire a divorce attorney as soon as possible to guard against such risks.
Divorce law differs from state to state, and the law and procedures surrounding the process are complex. An attorney can advise you on how to prepare, how to present your case, whether it would be better to settle or litigate your divorce, and how the divorce can impact your future.
A serious situation such as a divorce demands a serious response. At JBell & Associates PC, our divorce attorneys are highly qualified in the entire divorce process and are diligent fighters to get our clients a fair and beneficial resolution.
Put JBell & Associates PC on your side today to fight for your rights and future.
Divorces: Community Property versus Equitable Distribution?
Your divorce settlement could be greatly affected depending on whether your state follows the principle of equitable distribution versus community property.
As an initial overview, community property states are characterized by a 50/50 split of all property acquired during the marriage, while equitable distribution states allow for the assets to be split equitably and fairly, but necessarily 50/50.
This distinction can affect the outcome of your entire divorce resolution, which is why we provide an in-depth overview of these two principles below:
Equitable Distribution States
Most states follow the equitable distribution principle. In these states, in the case of divorce, all property and assets acquired during the marriage are divided between the spouses in a manner that is equitable and fair. This does not necessarily mean that the distribution will be equal.
A judge considers a variety of factors in making a decision that is regarded as fair and equitable. There are no predefined set of factors to use. For instance, a judge may look to see what each spouse is earnings relative to the other or how much earnings potential each spouse can achieve. If there are children involved, a judge may evaluate the benefit of one spouse staying home to care for the children.
If property is involved, the judge does not typically order a physical division. The property resolution would likely entail an award to each spouse of a certain percentage of the total value of the property. Items such as personal property or even debts are included in the total percentage of value that is then divided.
Community Property States
The community property states are as follows: Alaska (optional and by agreement), Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.
In these states, the spouses are considered to equally own all income, assets, and other property acquired during the marriage. There is both separate and marital property. Separate property is owned by one spouse and includes property that the spouses acquired before the marriage as well as gifts and inheritances acquired by either spouse at any time.
Marital property is jointly owned by both spouses and refers to all property acquired by either spouse or both spouses during the marriage. This can have some rather complicated implications. For instance, all income earned by one spouse during the marriage is considered to be equally owned by both spouses during the marriage—even if only spouse is employed and the other is not.
Once the couple gets divorced, all marital property is divided equally 50/50 between both spouses. All debts are also divided equally such as unpaid credit cards, mortgages, etc. Each spouse gets to keep the property that is considered separate property.
How Divorce Proceedings Work
The divorce process varies depending on the state where the divorce takes place and the spouse’s specific situation (e.g., assets involved, custody issues, marital debt, alimony and child support claims, etc.).
The process is generally shorter if the spouses already have an agreement outlining who gets what upon divorce or if the spouses work together to develop their own divorce resolution. If there are debates about property, assets, or custody, or the spouses do not negotiate, the divorce process can become quite lengthy and expensive very quickly.
Typical Divorce Process
The first step to initiating a divorce proceeding is to file a petition for divorce that terminates the marriage. This will include, among other information, the legal grounds for divorce and residency requirements.
All states accept “no-fault divorces.” This process is faster and allows for a divorce petition to be approved where neither spouse is placing fault upon the other.
Other reasons for divorce can vary from state to state but typically include some type of martial misconduct such as adultery or child neglect. An attorney can guide you through your state’s applicable grounds for divorce.
The next step would be for you to provide your spouse with the divorce paperwork. The court will need some kind of proof that you served your spouse with this paperwork. Improper service means that your divorce cannot proceed until the defect is cured.
Your spouse will then need to file an answer or reply to your divorce petition or risk the court entering a default judgement. Your spouse can raise any disputes to your grounds for divorce during this stage.
The next stage involves the spouses negotiating towards a settlement. This process is faster if there is already an agreement. However, if the spouses disagree on issues, the court may get involved either by ordering mediation, meetings with the spouses’ attorneys, or other applicable court orders.
If the negotiations are still not fruitful, the parties will have to litigate their divorce before the court. The judge then has the power to make decisions regarding the divorce arrangement.
After the parties either settled their divorce issues outside of court or had the judge impose an order at trial, the final step is for the judge to sign the divorce judgment. This officially ends the marriage and details any divisions of property, assets, custody arrangement, etc.
Need Legal Assistance with Your Divorce?
Divorces are highly stressful events that can produce many legal hurdles. If contentious issues arise or the parties do not work to settle their divorce amicably, both the time and expense involved can increase dramatically.
It is important to remember to secure an attorney who is competent to handle divorce proceedings as early in the divorce process as possible. An attorney can help you secure your rights now and in the future.
At JBell & Associates PC, we have a dedicated and highly experienced group of divorce law attorneys poised to help you fight for a fair and advantageous divorce arrangement.
It is our mission to take the stress out of divorce. Call us today or contact our office for a free consultation to protect your life’s hard work.