Divorce is primarily governed by state specific laws and the grounds for divorce are different in each state. It is imperative to focus on the laws governing the state in which you are filing for divorce. The most common legal dispute during a divorce is the issue of child custody and support.
Filing Divorce and Processes
To commence the divorce process, a document entitled “Original Petition for Divorce” is filed with the court. The person filing for divorce is known as the “petitioner” while the other party is referred to as the “respondent”. The following process must be done:
- The spouse must be notified by legally serving them with the petition.
- A temporary hearing must be scheduled with the court in order to establish temporary spousal or child support.
- A written agreement establishing how to divide debts, assets, child custody and support must be completed.
- A date will be set for a trial if the parties cannot work out their differences amicably.
- The judge will sign the final divorce decree which outlines who gets what and any orders pertaining to custody and support.
Type of Divorces
When filing for divorce, you should be aware that there are a variety of divorces that vary in each state. They include:
- No Fault Divorce
- At Fault Divorce
- Uncontested Divorce
- Simplified Divorce
- Limited Divorce
- Annulments and Legal Separation
Different states have separate laws which govern factors such as the grounds for filing divorce that are legally permitted, processes for each type of divorce, and how issues such as Child Support, Spousal Support, and Child Custody are determined.
Divorce Laws by State
During a legal separation, you obtain a court order, which outlines the rights and responsibilities of each spouse while they are living apart. The issues to be addressed in a separation agreement are division of assets and debts, child custody and support, visitation schedules and spousal support.
The various types of spousal support may include (depending upon your specific state law); permanent, lump sum, temporary, rehabilitative and reorientation support.
Alimony can be awarded to either spouse depending upon the circumstances. Its’ purpose is to help maintain the standard of living that both parties were accustomed to during the marriage.
Each state has child support guidelines that determine the amount of child support payments. The primary factors include the parents’ income, time spent with the child, health insurance and medical expenses, child care costs and educational expenses.
The different types of child custody are:
- Joint Legal Custody
- Sole Legal Custody
- Joint Physical
- Sole Physical Custody
Divorce and the military require a special knowledge of laws not applicable to civilian divorces. Federal legislation entitles active members of the armed forces to delay a divorce and to court-appointed counsel in certain circumstances. Under the Service Members Civil Relief Act, military members are protected from lawsuits, including divorce proceedings so they can “devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation”. A court can delay legal proceedings while the member is on active duty and for up to 60 days following active duty. Special rules governing military divorce include:
- Residency and filing requirements
- Division of property
- Former spouse’s military benefits
- Spousal support and child support
Divorce and children are often the lengthiest legal process that many people will experience. If you are considering filing for divorce, you should consult with a family law attorney. The grounds for divorce vary in each state; therefore it is important to choose a lawyer familiar with your specific state laws.