A marriage can be performed in a matter of minutes. But when it comes to ending one, the process involves more work. Living arrangements have to be determined. Marital property, including real estate and money, needs dividing. Child custody decisions must be made.
Divorce proceedings must do this while leaving all parties in fair shape for the future. Getting yourself organized is a significant part of divorce proceedings. The divorce forms, questionnaires, worksheets, and checklists in this section can help you prepare.
Divorce Courts Make Decisions Based on Evidence
Most states give courts a lot of room to make decisions in divorce cases. A family court judge will look at how property and assets are to be divided. They will decide if spousal support is needed and how much. The judge will rule on what is in the best interest of the minor children. Formulas help calculate child support by your state's rules. Even uncontested divorces are a lot of work. Determining a settlement that works for both people needs disclosure and honest evaluation.
The law cares about evidence. Going through a couple's financial records, property records, tax returns, and other details is part of the process. A divorce attorney will perform all these steps and complete the required court forms. Gather all documents that you think may be helpful. Make sure you have your ex-spouse's contact information if you are no longer living together.
Getting organized can help your attorney understand your case faster. It'll also help with the court and opposing counsel. While an attorney does cost money, they will make sure to get you a fair settlement.
Forms, Checklists, and Worksheets Can Help You Organize
Checklists and questionnaires are a good way to gather and organize the information you need for your divorce papers and court forms. Divorce attorneys especially rely on them to understand your financial position and personal history. Chasing down all the necessary documents is part of what divorce attorneys do.
Having this stuff ready for your attorney will speed up the process. Organizing your details can also help you better understand what to expect from a divorce. Divorce and family courts try to reach a fair result for everyone. Knowing the true state of your marital property and accounts can go a long way.
Alimony and Spousal Support
Spousal support or alimony is not automatically a part of divorce cases. You must ask for it. The judge will consider an application for spousal support before they enter a court order.
Did one spouse work and support the other through school to get a high-paying job? What if one spouse has strong career and employment prospects while the other takes time off to raise the family? Maybe one spouse only needs support while they attend school after the divorce?
A family court judge may issue a support order temporarily during the divorce while the issues are being discussed. The judge may also order spousal support in your final decree of divorce. It may be either temporary or permanent, depending on your circumstances.
The information sheets, worksheets, and checklists in this section can help you know what to bring up with your attorney or the court.
Dividing Marital Property
You'll also find forms and questionnaires here dealing with the division of the marital estate. Divorce courts review a marriage's joint assets along with each spouse's separate assets. This is then used to determine a fair distribution for all parties.
Collect details on:
- Your home
- Other properties
- Savings accounts
- Benefits, including social security
- Retirement plans
- Insurance policies
If you worry your ex-spouse may drain your joint assets, you may need to request a protective order. This order will guard these resources while the divorce case is being decided.
Using the resources below can help you put together this information.
Getting Legal Help
Divorce is a complex and time-consuming process. While some may be easier, you still need to know a lot. Many courts have self-help centers, law libraries, or court clerks who may guide you, but they cannot give you legal advice or tell you what you deserve. An experienced family law or divorce attorney can save you time and hassle. It can also help ensure that someone knowledgeable is watching out for your interests.
If you have experienced domestic violence in your marriage or don't feel safe, you may need a restraining order or an order of protection. The divorce process can be stressful and dangerous. Seek out an attorney's help.
Your local legal aid office may offer help if you cannot afford an attorney legal aid office may offer help.