Making the decision to divorce is never easy. Choosing to get out of an unhappy marriage is the first step of the divorce process, and it’s an important one. After that, you need guidance and an understanding of what lies ahead once the process begins legally. If you and your spouse have shared children and assets, child custody and the division of marital assets are the most important aspects of the divorce process you will go through. It’s vital that you know not only what to expect, but have a clear understanding of how to protect your legal rights.
Before you take the legal leap into divorce, take some time to really think about the following questions. If possible, go through them together with your spouse. If you do decide that getting a divorce is the only solution, you’ll at least have tried everything in your power to make it work.
If you and your spouse still think divorce is the only option, don’t hesitate. Call an experienced divorce attorney at Flakne Law today to ensure your protection throughout the entire process.
A divorce is a legal action between two married people that terminates their marriage. Separation simply means living apart from your partner. You do not need to file court papers to separate, and you are not required by law to live with your spouse. That being said, separating from your spouse may affect your legal rights. It’s best to talk to a lawyer before separating, if possible. It’s important to note that in Minnesota you do not need to be separated before you get a divorce.
A legal separation, however, is a major change in the status of your marriage. To obtain a legal separation you must file a petition in District Court in the county where you or your spouse lives. The legal separation process differs from that of a divorce, but takes just as long as divorce, and may cost just as much or more. There are limited reasons for seeking legal separation, but it can make sense in certain financial situations or when religious beliefs or moral values against divorce come into play.
Spousal support payments, more commonly known as alimony, are made from one spouse to another under a separation or divorce order. They are meant to help an economically disadvantaged spouse continue to enjoy a similar standard of living after the marriage ends. Temporary or permanent spousal support can be awarded, and greatly depends on the length of the marriage and other applicable statutory factors.
Unless spousal support is predetermined by a legally-enforceable premarital or postmarital agreement, it will be decided by the court in accordance with several factors recognized by Minnesota state law. Today, temporary spousal support is usually favored by the courts until the economically-dependent spouse becomes self-sufficient. When and how much alimony is paid is determined by all relevant factors that must be addressed by the court, including marital property, ability to provide self-support, financial resources, and many more.
Distribution is the process of dividing up what you own and defining what you owe once you’ve agreed to divorce. Splitting up your joint assets is a difficult chore, but it must be done. Almost everything you and your spouse acquire during your marriage is considered marital property and is subject to distribution. This includes the family home, family pets and other physical assets, as well as non-tangible things such as retirement benefits. Minnesota is a “equitable distribution” state, meaning the court decides what is a fair, reasonable and equitable division of assets. It doesn’t mean you will automatically receive half of everything. On the contrary, the court might decide to award either spouse anywhere between 0 and 100 percent of marital property.
Many things are factored into the court’s decision regarding equitable distribution. It can include how long the marriage lasted, what each person brought into the marriage, how much each person earns, the responsibilities taken for children, tax consequences, debt; the list goes on. The essential things you should remember about equitable distribution are that everything you acquired during the marriage is subject to division – it doesn’t matter whose name or money was used to acquire it; you are the one that must prove what assets exist, and you, as a partner in the marriage, are also responsible for any debts acquired during the marriage.
There’s much, much more to divorces than what we’ve covered here. If you’re facing a divorce, the best thing you can do aside from educating yourself (which you’ve done a great deal of by simply reading this page) is to get in touch with an experienced Minnesota divorce attorney. At Flakne Law, we will gladly take time to sit down with you, assess your situation and help you develop a divorce plan that’s specifically tailored to your individual situation and needs. We take pride in getting to know our clients so we can better serve them. We are here for you, so give us a call today.