Your 5 Most Pressing Questions About Divorce, Answered
It’s a sad but widely known fact that many American marriages end in divorce. The divorce rate for first marriages is about 41% (and occurs about eight years after the wedding), and that figure only increases with subsequent marriages; the divorce rate for third marriages is about 73%. But if you’ve gotten to the stage where you’re looking at divorce attorneys, it’s time to turn your attention away from what could have happened in your marriage and toward getting a fair settlement for everyone involved.
Here are the answers to the five most pressing questions lawyers get about the divorce process:
- How Long Does a Divorce Take?
The length of a divorce is largely decided by whether both parties cooperate and how many disputes need to be settled before the divorce is finalized. Divorces that are settled out of court are completed more quickly than those that actually go to trial, obviously. According to Nolo, the average length of a divorce is 10 months, and over half of the respondents in a survey it conducted said their divorce took between six and 12 months.
- What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is actually the most common kind, as it’s faster and less expensive than a contested divorce. The term simply means that either your spouse agrees to the divorce and its terms or fails to appear in any divorce action. There can still be negotiation through divorce attorneys in an uncontested divorce, but you will not need to have them settled in divorce court.
- What Factors Go Into Determining Child Custody?
There are numerous factors in determining custody and visitation, and it’s a good idea to get a child custody lawyer who focuses on this area of the law if you’re concerned about the outcome of a dispute. The court may take into account the child’s relationship with both parents, the prior involvement of both parents in childcare and the child’s preference (if he or she is old enough). Obviously, factors such as prior abuse would also be used in deciding that a parent should not have custody (or perhaps even visitation rights) of a child.
- How is Property Divided?
Property in general includes all assets, including financial ones. The first step to take in figuring out property divisions is defining what constitutes community property (meaning it was shared in the marriage). You and your spouse may come to an agreement on your own, or the court may rule if you cannot do so. Laws vary by state, but generally a 50/50 split of community property is the starting point.
- How is Support Determined?
Spousal support (formerly referred to as “alimony”) and child support are both payments made from one spouse to the other. Spousal support is not always awarded, and normally becomes a factor if one partner earned far more than the other during the marriage. Child support is usually calculated as a percentage of one spouse’s income that should be dedicated to the child’s care, and is awarded to the custodial parent.
What other questions would you like to ask a divorce attorney? Join the discussion in the comments.
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