Recognizing The Legal Elements Of Divorce

Recognizing The Legal Elements Of Divorce

November 9, 2023

Divorce proceedings can be complex. Many legal issues must be addressed, including child custody (physical and legal), support, and property division. Litigation is not the only process available; many divorce proceedings involve mediation or collaborative law. These are more flexible options than litigation.

Child Custody

One of the most important and emotional aspects of a divorce is determining custody and visitation arrangements for children. Child custody encompasses physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody addresses the issue of which parent a child will live with and the responsibility for the child’s daily care. In contrast, legal custody gives one parent the right to decide about the child’s health, education, religion and general welfare. In many situations, parents split control equally between them. A judge, or a jury in some cases, will decide custody and other issues in a trial. During the trial, both parties present evidence and call witnesses to testify. The court then decides on equitable distribution, financial support and child custody. In contentious custody or visitation cases, a forensic expert (like a psychologist or psychiatrist) may be chosen to speak with and assess the children, parents, and other parties involved. The expert will then submit a report to the court.

Child Support

While some states have enacted no-fault divorce laws, some State still allows parties to obtain a divorce on grounds such as irretrievable marriage breakdown, adultery, cruel treatment or imprisonment for three years. However, these are generally contested grounds. The judge will decide on a child support arrangement in a divorce case that includes children. It will typically be based on a mathematical formula considering the parents’ income and mandatory add-on costs. Most custody arrangements involve the child living with one parent most of the time, known as the custodial parent. The other parent receives child support from the other parent, which helps to cover expenses such as food, housing, clothing and daycare. The amount of child support will vary between states. It also depends on how much parents contribute to a child’s upbringing and whether they have shared parenting time. Child support will also be impacted by the length of the marriage and each spouse’s economic contributions to it.


A court can award one former spouse financial support from the other after a divorce. Known by various names, such as alimony or maintenance, this money ensures that a divorce does not cause the lower-earning spouse to suffer a drastic decline in their quality of life. When judges determine whether to award alimony and how much, they are typically guided by state laws that spell out a range of considerations. For example, the law may consider how long the couple was married and whether one spouse stayed home to raise their children. The judge may also award temporary alimony (pendent lite alimony) while the divorce progresses. This amount is usually less than a permanent alimony payment and stops when the receiving spouse remarries or reaches a specified age. Alimony can also be rehabilitative, where it is paid to allow the recipient’s former spouse to increase their employment opportunities through education or work training.

Division Of Property

The division of property is frequently one of the most challenging aspects of divorce. It includes everything from who gets the family home to how much one spouse should receive in a financial settlement. The equitable distribution principle is generally followed when splitting assets and debts during a divorce. The investments and income that both parties accumulated throughout the marriage will be separated by a court, but this does not imply that all marital property will be distributed equally.

During the property division process, both parties must identify all assets and debts that existed on the date of separation. It is also necessary to value these items, which may require professional help from the best divorce lawyer near me. Any passive increases or decreases in value will also be taken into account. Once the value of all assets has been established, they must be classified as separate or marital property.

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