Divorce can be complicated, both legally and emotionally. While some divorces proceed smoothly and without much conflict, others may involve lengthy negotiations and a great deal of stress for the individuals involved. Some of the issues that often arise for couples who are seeking a divorce include child support payments, alimony, the division of marital property, and child custody.
Uncontested divorce can be one of the easiest ways for the parties to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Upon reaching satisfactory terms on any issues that arise within the context of the divorce, both parties can submit an agreement to seek the court’s approval of the settlement. An uncontested divorce can save expense, effort, and time.
However, contested divorce is another option for couples who want to secure a divorce decree. This option comes in handy if one or neither party is not interested in pursuing mediation. In this case, the parties can participate in a contested hearing, for which they hire a legal professional who can represent them.
A lawyer can provide guidance and insight with respect to the following common aspects of divorce in Philadelphia:
Pennsylvania recognizes two types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody determines with whom and where a child will live, and legal custody involves a parent or guardian’s right to influence decisions relating to a child’s medical care, extracurricular activities, upbringing, and education. A Philadelphia divorce lawyer can advise you with regard to the best course of action in your unique situation.
Judges in Philadelphia generally award custody based on the child’s best interests, and there is not a specific set of rules that courts use as a yardstick for making these judgments. They consider a number of factors, such as which parent is more likely to maintain a healthy relationship with the child in a stable and happy home environment. Other factors that may come into play when a judge makes a decision may include a child’s relationship with siblings, the child’s preference for living arrangements, and the child’s maturity and age.
Philadelphia ensures that courts follow standard procedures for child support and properly implement the established guidelines. Some of the factors that come into play include the parents’ combined and individual net income, as well as parents’ mental and physical condition to handle and support the child. The parent who has a higher income often will end up bearing more expense for child support.
Debts and Marital Property Division
Pennsylvania follows the doctrine of equitable division with regard to debts and marital property. This generally means that courts will divide marital property based on what would be fair under the given circumstances. However, exceptions to this rule may arise in the event that the couple signed a prenuptial agreement that details mutually agreed-upon conditions for property division in the event of the marriage’s dissolution.
A family lawyer Philadelphia trusts should be able to explain to clients that marital property differs from solely owned property. When exiting a marriage, a spouse can take their solely owned property with them, without it being subject to the standard equitable division rules. When the couple acquires property during the marriage, courts will generally categorize it as marital property, regardless of whose name appears on the title or the deed.
Marital property can cover multiple types of assets, such as vehicles, investment accounts, business interests, real estate, wages earned, bonds and stocks, home furnishings, and retirement accounts.
Even the businesses in which members of the separating couple are involved may be taken into consideration in divorce matters. For example, if an individual starts any business after their marriage begins, then the spouse is likely to get a share of the business in a divorce, even if the spouse did not provide any tangible input.
Judges determine fair property distribution after considering various factors, such as marriage length, each individual’s health and age, each individual’s income and education level, the contributions of one spouse in building the career of another, and each individual’s debts and assets.
Judges have a great deal of discretion when issuing a divorce decree, so contacting a Philadelphia divorce lawyer can help you best position yourself during the proceedings.
Alimony and Spousal Financial Support
Spousal support and alimony are two important lifelines, especially for an individual who has significantly lower earnings than their spouse. This is why the law provides for a fair amount of alimony and support in monthly payments. During the divorce pendency, the payments are called spousal support. Once the court grants a divorce decree, they are called alimony.
A spouse has the right to bargain for the alimony amount as part of negotiating the divorce settlement. A party may not demand alimony in the event that they have waived it in a prenuptial agreement.
There are several factors that courts may consider during the judicial determination of alimony amounts, many of which are similar to those used to determine the equitable distribution of marital assets. Your lawyer can develop strategies to improve your chances of optimizing alimony amounts, the division of debts and property, and child custody and support in your situation.