A divorce can be an emotional as well as an expensive process. Feelings of anger, resentment, and resignation can be obstacles to obtaining what is legally yours or can lead to acrimonious battles over insignificant issues.
With an experienced divorce lawyer representing you, however, you can use the divorce laws in your state to your advantage in obtaining the best divorce settlement for you. Here are a few suggestions on how you can use divorce laws to your advantage:
Child Custody laws
Depending on your state, you may have to come up with a custody plan for the family court to consider. If you are prepared and can offer credible proof why you are the best custodian, you have a better chance of prevailing. Many courts use the following factors in determining custody:
– The love and affection between you and your child
– Moral fitness
– Mental and physical health
– Home, school and community record of your child
– Your capacity to offer nurturing and material needs
– Evidence of domestic violence or abuse
– Length of time the child has been in a stable and satisfactory environment
There are other factors but if you can document these to the satisfaction of the court, you are more likely to be considered the legal primary custodian of your child or children.
Most courts require mediation between the parties. This is the best opportunity for you and your divorce lawyer to secure the best possible settlement by negotiation rather than litigation.
Mediation is overseen by an independent mediator whose goal is to arrive at a property, maintenance, and custody solution that both parties can accept. If your lawyer has documentary evidence that can support your case for custody, spousal maintenance, or an equitable division of the marital assets, the other party will be hard pressed to reject your proposals. For example, if you have evidence that your spouse has hidden certain assets, you are in a better position to negotiate for a favorable resolution.
You should also be prepared to give something in return that you can relinquish without regret.
A prenuptial agreement is usually reserved for those couples with considerable assets on both or one side. It is typically entered into to limit the division of assets if the marriage should dissolve. The parties must enter into it with full knowledge of the others assets and do so willingly. The agreement can also do the following:
– Ensure that the weaker financial partner is protected.
– If there is a prior marriage with children and considerable assets, it can dictate how your assets are distributed.
– Prevent you from being burdened with the other spouse’s debt load.
– Ensure that your ex-spouse does not become an unwanted partner in a business you own.
– Ensure that certain property remains with you and your family other than your spouse.
Many spouses give up their careers to raise their children while others work for low wages as a second source to supplement their spouse’s greater income. When the parties separate or file for divorce, the lower income spouse will want to be supported to avoid financial difficulty.
Spousal maintenance is decided on a case-by-case basis in most states. The length of the relationship, standard of living, contribution of each spouse to the family’s well-being, age of the parties, education and capacity to earn, financial needs, and health of the parties are all factors the court considers.
A spouse whose attorney can offer definitive proof, documentary or testimonial, that he or she will need a certain amount of support for whatever period can use these factors to his or her advantage in any divorce settlement.