American Divorce Laws: Custody, Prenuptial Agreements, Property, Debts, Assets, and Spousal and Child Support

Many divorce proceedings involve matters such as child custody, spousal support, division of property and debt, and pre-nuptial agreements. The federal government in the United States cannot issue a divorce; instead, the state laws govern divorce. Divorce law will consider many factors in dividing property and assets, evaluating child custody eligibility, and determining child and spousal support.

Spousal Support

Spousal support, also known as “alimony” or “maintenance” is granted in many divorce cases, especially marriages that have lasted longer. Spousal support is most likely in situations where a spouse has needs that must be met to become employable, for example, in a situation where one spouse gave up career opportunities so that they could devote themselves to taking care of the family.

Prenuptial Agreements

A court determines the terms of a divorce and will take into account the prenuptial agreements. This helps to prevent a lengthy battle over physical property should the relationship end in divorce. This agreement identifies the assets that each spouse brought into the marriage and confirms how they will be treated and what will remain after the divorce.

Child Support

When children are involved in divorce cases, states are highly invested in ensuring that the children receive great care and that they are in the custody of a worthy parent or guardian who will create a stable home environment for them. In all 50 states of the US, parents are now required to file a parenting plan or plan out custody and visitation, either through a written agreement or ruling by the courts when the spouses legally separate.

For those who are seeking a divorce attorney in Santa Ana, we highly recommend Shuff Law Firm, lawyers who are committed to acting in the best interest of all parties involved, especially children.

Division of Properties and Spousal Support

State courts use two basic schemes to divide property during a separation: community property or equitable distribution.

In community property states, the husband and wife are deemed to be equal owners of the money earned, regardless of which spouse acquired it. This follows for the properties as well. The money and property are generally divided equally between the spouses.

For equitable distribution, assets and earnings accumulated during the marriage are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. Each spouses’ contribution to the accumulation of property and assets is considered by the court. Equitable distribution also considers child support obligations, alimony payments, and other all other property. Equitable division of assets is sought for assets acquired during the marriage but not before, as these are considered “individual”. Also exempt from division are gifts that one spouse received from a third party, inheritance given to only one of the spouses, and money a spouse received due to a personal injury claim.

Some states take educational degrees earned during the marriage as marital property. A dissolution of marriage in such states will often involve the educated spouse making payments to the other spouse from expected future earnings due to the degree earned in the course of the marriage. This often requires the input of labor economists or other financial experts.

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