One of the most daunting parts of a divorce proceeding is the dividing of marital property. Since marriage spans across the couples entire lives, it may be hard to think about each thing that must be included in a divorce settlement. The simplest way to approach a divorce decree is to consider everything that was affected during your union and the considerations that would arise if the marriage remained intact. These include property, businesses, children, pets, taxes, household expenses, debts and other typical financial concerns of a family. Now, with the two of you going your separate ways, a settlement will outline how to legally allocate property and the responsibilities you had as a couple.
Here are some minimal items you should include in your divorce settlement:
Division of property. Your marital home and all expenses surrounding it must be included in the settlement. Who will need to move from the home? Who will be paying the mortgage, taxes and making sure these are submitted to the right parties on time? Will one spouse need to be bought out? How much is each entitled to if the home is sold? Clarity around these will prevent problems later.
Custody and the care of children. When it comes to custody of children, the divorce settlement should outline who has physical and legal custody. If there are parental visits, when and where will these be? Who gets to claim the children on their taxes? Who will carry children on their insurance or be responsible for covering expenses arising from health care, extracurricular activities, childcare or college. If there are no children, care of pets should be approached in a similar way.
Alimony. If a spouse will not be able to care for their needs beyond divorce, alimony will need to be considered. This provision should have clear terms including what will be paid, when and for how long. Alimony provisions will change as dependent children leave the home and if the spouse remarries. If a party is ordered to pay spousal or child support, they should also carry life insurance to ensure their obligations are still met in case of their untimely death.
Debts. If you and your spouse have joint debt, this needs to be included in the settlement. In order to protect each ones respective credit, separate the accounts and outline what each party is responsible for paying. As with the division of real property, debts and other expenses surrounding cars and other assets should be divided.
Business, investments, and pensions. Each of these should be considered alongside marital property and must be outlined in a divorce decree. Actuaries and chartered business valuators should be consulted to make sure these assets and the management of them are distributed fairly.
Although it is possible to modify a divorce settlement, consult with friends, family and your family attorney to make sure that nothing is overlooked and that you and any dependents get everything to which you are rightfully entitled. If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact our offices.
The Law Office of Thomas Hogan, Stanislaus County divorce attorney, is here to help you with the divorce process. Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse or legal separation. Thomas P. Hogan is a Family Law Specialist in Stanislaus County, don’t settle for anyone else when determining your rights. Call (209) 492-9335.