"Summary of Major Claims Often Associated with Divorce."

Written by Bill Hunter, Prism Family Law Firm.  Updated 7/12/17

Each state in our country has its own set of guidelines regarding divorce, the requirements and procedures that must be followed to obtain a divorce, and the additional claims and actions that may be brought in conjunction with a divorce.  Regardless of what state you live in, it is very important that you consult a local divorce attorney to ensure that you understand how your state approaches the many different aspects of separation and divorce.  The following is not meant to provide legal advice and was written as a general discussion on items often addressed when spouses split, including: the division of property, alimony, child custody, and child support. 

Property Division:  During marriage, couples tend to accumulate property, including: real estate, personal property, furniture, jewelry, investments, bank accounts, and retirement accounts.  Upon divorce, couples must decide how to divide their property, which can often lead to intense legal battles.  In resolving differences, it is important to remember the value of a “give-and-take” approach, realizing that each side is not going to get absolutely everything he or she wants.  Judges in most states will typically think pretty similarly when ordering the division of property, often looking at things from a perspective of “what is fair” given the surrounding circumstances of the parties involved.  Most courts will begin with an assumption that an equal (50/50) division is fair, unless compelling evidence is presented to the contrary.  When dividing property, it is important to consider the following steps: (1) determine how your particular state handles the distribution of property so you have a good idea of what you may or may no be entitled to; (2) Inventory your property so you have full a list of everything that must be divided; (3) valuate each piece of property and your estate as a whole to use as guidelines for your negotiation; and (4) prioritize your items of property to assist with negotiations. 

Alimony:  States across the country vary greatly in their approach to Alimony, and it is an ever changing and highly contentious area.  The basic premise of Alimony is as follows:  after divorce, each spouse should be able to continue to maintain the same standard of living he or she enjoyed during the marriage.  In short, this means that if one spouse is financially dependent on the other spouse (the potentially supporting spouse), an award of alimony may be appropriate.  The availability of alimony, the amount awarded, and the duration of the award can vary great from state to state, and may depend on a number of different factors, such as: the income of each party; the future earning power of each party; the role each party played as homemaker; the standard of living established during the marriage; the age, physical, mental, and emotional conditions of each party; the marital misconduct of the parties; and the length of the marriage involved. 
Child Custody:  When going through a divorce, child custody is typically one of the most emotionally charged aspects of the process.  If a divorcing couple cannot come to an amicable agreement for child custody on their own terms, then it may be necessary to involve the court system.  States vary greatly regarding the procedure, statutes involved, and governing principles in custody actions.  However, most judges will approach a custody case with the following question in mind: What custodial arrangement is in the best interest of the child involved?  A court may consider numerous factors when assessing a child custody case, including anything related to the development of the child’s physical, mental, emotional, moral, and spiritual facilities.  In short, anything and everything that has an impact on the child involved is relevant and may be used by a court as a factor in determining custody. 

Child Support:  Child Support, or some form of it, is available across the United States for parents with primary custody, or for parents with joint custody who are on unequal footing financially when compared with the other parent.  The rules, regulations, statutes, and procedures for obtaining child support vary from state to state.  However, the basic premises of child support are as follows:  every parent has a responsibility to support the welfare of his or her children, and a child should be able to enjoy a similar standard of living at one parent’s house as he or she does at the other parent’s house.  There are numerous factors that a court may consider when determining whether child support is appropriate, and if so, how much the award should be.  Some of the more common factors are as follows:  the current income of each parent; the standard of living the child enjoys at each parent’s house; the expenses associated with each child, including daycare, schooling, clothing, food, and healthcare; and the number of overnights the child spends with each parent per year. 

*Please note that information above is informational in nature and should not be taken as legal advice.  These descriptions are meant to be broad overviews of the topics and are not specific to any particular state.  It is very important that you contact a divorce attorney licensed in your home state who understands the nuances of your state law, and who can appropriately advise you regarding the specifics of your particular situation.  The author of this article is a licensed attorney in the state of North Carolina.  

Live in Mecklenburg or Cabarrus counties in North Carolina and have questions?  Need help?  Our Charlotte divorce lawyer is available and prepared to answer all of your divorce related questions.  For more information, contact Prism Family Law Firm at 704-412-1442.


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