While divorce ends the union between spouses, it does not completely sever certain responsibilities one spouse might have over the other. This is particularly true for relationships where one party had been financially dependent on the other. In these cases, the more financially stable spouse is required to offer alimony or spousal support, ensuring that their partner is able to maintain a good standard of living even after the marriage dissolves.
Alimony was especially important in the past decades, when women had been traditionally expected to forgo career opportunities in order to care for their home and children. However, even as societal standards have shifted and we see marriages where both couples contribute to finances and parental duties, alimony remains a crucial requirement for certain circumstances. For example, the recent financial instability in the U.S. has caused millions of people to lose their jobs. A husband might have been laid off while his wife continues to work. In case they divorce during this time, the husband would be the one considered financially dependent between the two spouses.
The court decides how much alimony a financially stable spouse will be required to pay to support their former partner. This decision will usually be based on the income and earning opportunities of each spouse, as well as their age and current health. In some cases, the court will also consider the duration of their marriage. Based on these factors, a judge then decides on a specific type of alimony payment that the concerned spouse will have to make. Alimony can be paid temporarily, permanently, or in lump sum. In some cases, a judge will also decide on a rehabilitative alimony—a type of payment that serves to help the other spouse find a source of income and be able to support themselves.
Of course, as Arenson Law Group, PC puts it on their website, alimony and other issues involved in a divorce can be complex and difficult to determine in one’s own. It would be best to seek out qualified and experienced legal counsel to learn more about the intricate legalities that are part of such situations. Not doing so could result in further headaches that can create a generally frustrating situation.
Attorneys at Alexander & Associates say that the most challenging part of a divorce settlement is often the division of property between you and your spouse. Although couples often choose to divide their property and debts on their own, sometimes an agreement cannot be met–in this case, the division is decided by the court.
In Texas, all property is designated as separate property (owned by one spouse) or community property (shared ownership between both spouses). Texas law necessitates an equal division of community property, although each spouse keeps his or her respective separate property. But if not in Texas, it is very important to check on your states specific laws on divorce and property division.
Dividing liquid assets such as retirement and bank accounts is simple and straightforward. Dividing real property (homes and rentals) can be a process fraught with disagreement. Typically the property must be appraised by a real estate expert, though choosing an unbiased and qualified expert is often difficult. Final determination of the value of any real property is a responsibility that falls to the judge or jury.
After all property and debts have been identified, the divorce court may divide the community property between the spouses. The process depends on a number of factors. The wages, age, and education of the two spouses are considered, as is which spouse has possession of the children. The past contributions to the community estate are also noted; many divorce settlements end in a 60-40 split if both spouses are employed but the earnings are heavily skewed to one.
Coming to a settlement that is fair and acceptable to both parties in a divorce is complicated. Many people undergoing divorce proceedings find it exceedingly helpful to seek the services of an attorney, who can expedite the process and assist in equitably dividing debts and property.
One very important and useful agreement marrying couples enter into nowadays is the prenuptial or premarital agreement, a contract which clearly suggests how a couples’ properties and assets will have to be distributed in the event of divorce, legal separation, dissolution or annulment of marriage or death. Traditionally, prenuptials have always been thought to add when one or both parties are already very wealthy when entering the marriage, but this is changing to just be a standard clause. Though not intended to take away the romance in a marriage, a premarital agreement is, in fact, a very wise financial move as it will shield the divorcing couple’s financial future and not leave them suing one another for what one believes ought to be his or hers.
Though not originally an American practice, the need to enter into the agreement was introduced through the Married Women’s Property Act in 1848. Prior to the Act, a woman who was married was recognized only as her husband’s extension; thus, at the moment of marriage, she lost all her rights to possess, sell or transfer any property, earn income or receive educational training (unless permitted by her husband). And in the event that she would be allowed to work, she was obliged to surrender whatever she earned to her husband. All these were due to the legal rule known as coverture, the law that required a woman who entered into marriage to surrender her identity and rights to her husband. Due to this policy, any woman, though wealthy, faced the chance of losing everything she owned to her husband.
With the introduction of the prenuptial agreement divorcing couples justly take back what was rightfully theirs from the very start and get the chance to divide whatever profit they had within the marriage faster and without the need to file a case against each other. Other great benefits the agreement offer couples include:
Prenuptial agreements will have to be discussed openly, honestly and candidly, though, so as not to create any feeling of mistrust. Both parties should understand its real aim too to make them appreciate it more. And, upon agreeing to enter into the agreement, make sure to get the help of a family lawyer who understands well what needs to be included and specified in the agreement.