Legal Rights During Divorce
Legal rights during divorce include ensuring a fair distribution of assets acquired during the marriage. Even while a final divorce decree would seem to be the end of the matter, the parties involved might still have obligations to fulfill in the immediate aftermath of the decree and will need to think about how their divorce will affect their rights and obligations for some time to come.
Parties to a divorce should make sure that all loose ends are addressed as soon as the divorce is finalized. Parties should first check for errors in their final divorce decree. A simple error with little bearing on the matter can generally be ignored, but a clause that was either completely omitted or poorly stated needs to be addressed. Asking the court to make revisions to the document could be all that is needed in this case, however if the parties are unable to reach a consensus or if the revision is significant.
As soon as the order is error-free, certified copies should be obtained by both sides. These will come in handy when notifying other parties of the divorce, like a bank to modify the name on an account or an ex-spouse’s workplace to obtain COBRA coverage. If divorcing spouses need to transfer property or amend deeds, such the title to a car or a house, a copy of the divorce decree may also be helpful. In addition, the parties should fulfill any additional orders specified in their divorce decree, such as notifying the beneficiaries of a retirement account or insurance policy and submitting any QDRO to the plan administrator.
Any official documentation should reflect the corrected name of an ex-spouse or their child if they do so. Ultimately, both parties should review and revise any estate planning documents.
During a divorce, it’s crucial to understand your legal rights, which typically include:
1. Property Division
Ensuring a fair distribution of assets acquired during the marriage.
2. Child Custody and Support
Determining custody arrangements and financial support for any children involved.
3. Alimony/Spousal Support
Assessing whether one spouse is entitled to financial support from the other.
4. Debt Division
Allocating responsibility for any debts accrued during the marriage.
5. Legal Representation
Securing a lawyer to advocate for your interests throughout the process.
It’s important to consult with a legal professional who can provide personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances.
Adjustment of Alimony and Final Divorce Judgments
Final divorce decrees, such as those pertaining to spousal or child support, may be modified by an ex-spouse, particularly if circumstances have altered since the split. The kind of modification the ex-spouse seeks, the importance of the altered circumstances, and state legislation all influence the possibility of success. Nonetheless, the consent of both ex-spouses is the simplest way to change any divorce decree. An ex-spouse may be able to convince the court to alter the order if the two are unable to come to an agreement.
A paying ex-spouse who loses their employment, for instance, may be granted a temporary reduction in alimony by the court. It’s possible that changing spousal or child support orders will occur more frequently than changing an asset division order.
Moving With Children
Divorced couples moving with shared children may need to take their child custody and visitation agreements into account. Divorced couples moving without shared children are probably free to go wherever they desire.
Following a Divorce, Estate Planning
It is likely that people may need to revise their estate planning documents following a divorce. Even though the majority of states automatically disinherit an ex-spouse in the event that a person passes away after divorcing without revising their will, an unexpected beneficiary may still receive the assets. The most effective method to ensure that a person’s assets will reach their designated recipients is to update the relevant estate planning documents. An individual should update their will to reflect their continued objectives following divorce, even if they still want their ex-spouse to inherit under it.
If the ex-spouse agreed to protect their alimony and child support payments with an insurance policy, for example, divorced spouses may also want to make sure their ex-spouse has updated their own estate planning documentation.
Name Modifications Following Divorce
A final divorce decree may include a name change, however parties who choose to rename themselves or their child after a divorce must do so through the legal system (or by another means allowed by state law). An individual may utilize a copy of the final name change order they obtain to have their name changed on all other documents, including their driver’s license and passport.
Social Security Income Following a Divorce
Even after a divorce, ex-spouses may still be qualified for Social Security payments based on their ex-spouse’s employment history. The marriage must have lasted for at least ten years in order to qualify for these benefits. However, eligibility may be impacted by remarriage.
Remarried people must think about how their second marriage would impact their rights and obligations under the terms of their divorce decree. For example, spousal support responsibilities may be impacted by remarriage, but child support obligations are unlikely to be affected. Remarried couples may also reevaluate their wealth protection and parenting strategies.
Frequently Asked Questions About Legal Rights During Divorce
1. What are my rights regarding property division?
Your rights vary based on the laws of your jurisdiction, but generally, assets acquired during the marriage are subject to equitable distribution. This means they are divided fairly, though not necessarily equally, between spouses.
2. How is child custody determined and what are my rights as a parent?
Child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child, taking into account factors such as each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs and maintain a stable environment. Parents typically have the right to seek joint or sole custody, depending on their circumstances.
3. Am I entitled to alimony or spousal support?
Whether you’re entitled to alimony or spousal support depends on various factors including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial situation, and their contributions to the marriage. Generally, it’s intended to help a lower-earning spouse maintain a similar standard of living post-divorce.
4. What happens to debts acquired during the marriage?
Debts acquired during the marriage are typically divided along with assets during the divorce process. Each spouse may be responsible for a portion of the marital debt, depending on the circumstances.
5. Do I need a lawyer to protect my legal rights during divorce?
While not required, having a lawyer can ensure your rights are protected and that you navigate the legal process effectively. They can provide valuable advice and representation, especially in complex cases.
6. Can I change my mind about the terms of the divorce agreement?
It depends on the specific terms and your jurisdiction’s laws. In some cases, agreements can be modified if both parties consent or if there’s a significant change in circumstances.
7. What if my spouse is not complying with the terms of the divorce settlement?
You may need to take legal action to enforce the terms of the settlement. This could involve filing a motion with the court to compel compliance.
8. How does the divorce process affect my rights to retirement accounts or pensions?
Retirement accounts and pensions accumulated during the marriage are typically considered marital property subject to division. The specific division depends on the laws of your jurisdiction and the terms of any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.
9. What are my rights if there was domestic violence or abuse during the marriage?
If domestic violence or abuse occurred, there may be legal remedies available, such as obtaining a restraining order or seeking protection for yourself and any children involved.
10. Are there any tax implications I should be aware of regarding property division or support payments?
There can be tax implications associated with property division and support payments. It’s important to consult with a tax advisor or attorney to understand the potential tax consequences and how they may impact your financial situation.