Whenever we talk about divorce on this blog, we try to acknowledge that it’s rarely an easy thing.
But while going through a divorce isn’t pleasant, the process should at least be fair. Fair for you. Fair for your former spouse, and – perhaps most crucial – fair for your children.
Obtaining a fair settlement will take some work, as any Doylestown divorce lawyer can tell you. But it’s not an impossible task. Here are some tips for negotiating a divorce that meets your needs.
Know your finances
The first thing you need to do is put together as much information as you can about your family finances: assets, income, debts, etc.
If your spouse is the one who handles financial matters, it’s time to educate yourself. The last thing you want is to enter divorce proceedings with a hazy view of your finances.
Make sure you have copies of any documents connected to:
- Your marital assets, so you can show in court what you and your spouse’s net worth is.
- You and your spouse’s gross – not take-home – income, and the benefits you and they both get from those jobs (insurance, pension/retirement plans).
- Any debt you both have, the interest paid, and the date you expect to repay.
- Tax returns for at least the past three years. This will help determine which spouse earns the most when figuring out alimony and child support.
- Statements from joint bank accounts or investment accounts.
- Phone bills, which show you if your spouse is hiding an affair…or hiding assets.
- Records from any businesses in which you and your spouse have invested.
- Insurance policies, as these can be seen as marital assets. The divorce proceedings will need to determine which spouse will continue to pay for the policies.
A divorce agreement that’s fair includes a child custody arrangement that’s fair to everyone. The ideal custody arrangement – crafted, for example, with the help of a Doylestown divorce lawyer – involve parents who live apart yet still take part in their children’s lives.
Sharing responsibility makes things easier on the children, allows both parents to spend time with their kids, and will be viewed favorably in the eyes of the court.
It’s not a time to think in terms of “winning” or “losing,” but rather about the needs and wishes of your children. The court will take their preferences into account.
Dividing assets and debts
Depending on the state where you live, the court will use one of two methods to divide assets and liabilities during a divorce: “equitable distribution” and “community property.”
Only a handful of states – including California and Texas – use the community property rule, which means a judge will just divide the assets in half.
In equitable distribution states – like Pennsylvania – parties can ask the court to divide their assets based on what each spouse is legally entitled to receive. And that may not always be a 50/50 split.
The court will make its decision based on several factors, including age, health, income, job skills/employability, whether each party can obtain future assets and income, and whether either spouse will need to care for children.
So how do you ensure that this split is fair? By having a skilled divorce attorney at your side who can argue your case.
The Doylestown divorce lawyers at Penglase & Benson have spent decades helping people just like you get fair treatment during their divorce cases. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.