Divorce is much more than simply ending your marriage. It is also a formal legal process of establishing separate property ownership rights over property and debts that previously qualified as marital property while you were married. If you are planning to end your marriage in the Midwest, it’s natural to have concerns and apprehensions about the financial implications of your divorce. Every marriage is unique; therefore, every divorce will entail unique details. While there is no single foolproof strategy for handling divorce proceedings in the Midwest, there are a few things anyone should keep in mind as they begin the divorce process to ensure a healthier financial future.
Many divorcing spouses have concerns about property division in their divorce proceedings. It’s common for people to enter the divorce process with misconceptions about how their property division determinations will unfold, only to discover that divorce’s financial effects are very different from what they expected. Most states in the US uphold equitable distribution laws, while a few enforce community property laws. Under equitable distribution, the court strives for the fairest, but not necessarily equal, property division by considering numerous factors in a divorce. Under community property law, all marital assets and debts are split 50/50.
The property division process in most Midwestern states will unfold under equitable distribution laws. This means the court will assess numerous factors concerning the divorcing spouses, such as their respective incomes, job opportunities, contributions toward their marriage, the length the marriage lasted, and much more. In most cases, when a judge must determine property division under equitable distribution, they strive to reach a settlement that leaves as little room for long-term maintenance agreements as possible. For example, suppose one spouse would typically qualify to receive alimony. In that case, a judge may prefer to award them a larger share of marital property instead to avoid the need for a long-term spousal support arrangement.
Alimony can come into play in any divorce in which one spouse earns significantly more income than the other or when one spouse has been financially dependent on the other for many years. Alimony aims to provide the supported spouse with enough financial support to maintain a similar lifestyle to what they enjoyed while married. The amount paid in alimony typically hinges on the difference in income between the two spouses. In addition, the length of time payments continue typically depends on how long the marriage lasted.
In every alimony agreement, there will be stipulations pertaining to “terminating actions.” Once taken by the recipient of alimony, these actions terminate the paying party’s responsibility for further alimony payments. For example, if the recipient moves in with a new partner, this will likely constitute a terminating action as they no longer must manage living expenses entirely independently. Therefore, if you expect to pay or receive alimony, it is essential to carefully review the terms regarding terminating actions.
One of the most contentious issues in most divorce cases is child support. If you and your spouse have children together, the most critical aspect of your whole divorce process will be determining custody of your children and negotiating a child support agreement. Unfortunately, unless the divorcing parents earn the same income and have completely 50/50 joint custody of their children, one parent is likely to owe child support payments to the other.
The court determines the total amount of financial support a child needs based on several factors, such as the average cost of living in the area and the child’s unique needs. Once the court determines this support amount, it is divided in half to determine each parent’s child support obligation. The parents’ respective custody rights then determine which parent pays the other. When one parent receives more significant physical custody than the other, they incur greater responsibility for the child’s basic living expenses. The court will consider this as completion of the custodial parent’s financial obligation for child support, and the noncustodial parent will be required to make regular child support payments to cover their share of their child’s financial needs
Modifying Divorce Decrees
The family court systems of the US acknowledge that life can pose unpredictable challenges with little to no warning. When divorced spouses have family court orders and later experience unexpected changes in their lives, these changes can have profound implications when it comes to their ability to abide by standing family court orders. However, it is possible to have your family court order changed without a complex appeals process. The modification system allows any party beholden to a family court order to petition for reasonable changes to their order in light of recent events.
You may need to file a petition for modification if you pay child support to your ex and lose your job or suffer an injury that prevents you from working. As long as the recent change was entirely beyond your control and caused by no fault of your own, a judge is likely to grant any reasonable adjustments you may require to your family court order. However, if you do not want to pay child support anymore, you cannot simply quit your job and claim that you have no income. If you are unsure whether a recent life event constitutes grounds for modifying your family court order, consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible about your options.
It’s natural to be apprehensive about hiring an attorney if you are concerned about the potential cost of legal fees for your divorce. Ultimately, it is always best to approach your divorce with legal representation on your side, so you are prepared to face any challenges the process poses to you with confidence and peace of mind. If you have concerns about the cost of your divorce representation, discuss these concerns with your attorney. They can help you determine ways to streamline the process, potentially saving you a significant amount of money on legal fees. If you are preparing to divorce in the Midwest and have any kind of financial concerns about the process, reach out to an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible.