Divorce is a challenging time for everyone involved, and it can take a physical, mental and emotional toll on anyone going through it. Balancing the legal aspects of divorce, including court hearings, with your everyday responsibilities, can make you feel constantly overwhelmed.
What are the most critical issues in divorce proceedings?
Property issues are among the most critical issues you and your soon-to-be former spouse must tackle. Division of marital property can be a peaceful process, or it can take years to reach a resolution.
Depending on the length of the marriage and who contributed what to the union, each spouse will have their desires and expectations, whether realistic or not.
It is essential for you to be prepared for these matters because many people are unrealistic about their expectations regarding what they can and cannot keep according to the law.
The most common problems that arise within property matters are:
- Marital/separate property claims and determinations
- Valuation of assets, both marital and separate
- Hidden assets, funds, trusts and other estate planning issues
- Debt, whether known or unknown to a spouse
- Spousal support (alimony)
These issues can be resolved in mediation, and many couples are able to do that. However, when it comes to high-income couples, there is usually significant conflict over property, especially if one of the spouses worked outside the home and the other stayed home to raise the children.
Parties can also feel attached to specific items in the marital home that, while they could belong to both parties or the other party, they do not want to part with. Ownership of property is often a contentious issue.
Is there a way to make this process less contentious?
Yes. If the parties and their attorneys are committed to working together, collaborating and negotiating in good faith so the parties reach the best possible outcome, it is possible to avoid the court deciding what goes to whom. Remember that it is always better for the parties to decide who gets to keep what than someone who does not know them to choose for them.
Divorce is difficult, no matter the circumstances. When there is significant property to divide, there is potential for the divorce to become contentious. However, keep in mind that if you work together to solve your issues with your attorneys and, if needed, mediators or financial advisors, you can reach solutions that both of you can live with.