Going through a divorce means that you will face an end to one of the most significant relationships you have had in your life while also contending with divorce issues, including how to divide your property, find a new place to live, and figure out child custody and support issues. Many people who are going through a divorce might also worry about what it might mean to not see their children every day.
It's not possible to predict everything that might happen during your divorce. However, having realistic expectations can help you be happier with the outcome. Here's some information from a divorce lawyer in New Jersey about the divorce process and what getting divorced can and can't do.
What Are the Benefits of a Divorce?
The most obvious benefit of getting a divorce is that the process will legally terminate your marriage. If you are unhappy with your spouse and do not believe that a reconciliation is possible, getting divorced can unwind the legal ties that bind you together and free you to pursue your life as a single person without marital ties. Getting divorced might allow you to enjoy a fresh start in your life and pursue the interests you have without having to run everything by someone else. Here are a few other things that a divorce can do when you want to end your marriage.
Divide Your Property Fairly
When you get divorced, the marital assets and debts you and your spouse have accumulated during your marriage will be equitably distributed between you. You can try to reach a negotiated agreement on how to divide all of your assets or litigate the distribution of your property in court. In New Jersey, courts divide marital assets equitably rather than equally. If you can't reach a full property settlement agreement, the court will ask about your individual financial circumstances and consider the standard of living you enjoyed while married, how long you were married, and other factors to determine how to divide your property in the fairest way.
Since it's impossible to predict how a court might order your assets to be distributed, the best option is to try to negotiate an agreement with your spouse. A divorce lawyer in New Jersey at the Ziegler Law Group can negotiate on your behalf and represent you through the settlement process. For example, your attorney might help you negotiate giving up your interest in one asset in return for receiving a different one in your divorce. Reaching a mutually agreeable settlement for the property division can be a good way to resolve outstanding issues.
Determine Alimony and Child Support Obligations
When you get a divorce, you can deal with support obligations that you might have or that you might receive, including the payment of alimony and child support. New Jersey's child support guidelines largely determine how much child support you might expect to pay or receive, but the court can deviate from the guideline amount in extraordinary situations. The child support orders in your case will likely depend on the child custody arrangements you negotiate or that are ordered by the court.
Alimony is the payment of support from a higher-earning spouse to a lower-earning spouse to help the recipient make financial ends meet and facilitate their financial self-supporting ability. However, alimony orders are discretionary and aren't issued in every case. Since it is difficult to predict how a court might handle a request for alimony, this is another good reason to try to reach a negotiated agreement for any alimony that you or your spouse might contemplate.
Determine Child Custody and Parenting Time
If you and your spouse share children, child custody and parenting time will be important in your divorce case. Getting divorced can also involve establishing legal and residential custody of your children and a generous parenting schedule that is in the best interests of your children. Courts consider multiple factors when determining what is in the best interests of a child, but the decisions can vary from case to case.
In many cases, parents who can reach parenting and custody agreements outside of court tend to be happier with the outcome. Judges make custody decisions after seeing individuals at their worst in bitter custody hearings. With an agreement, parents can choose the best parenting plan for their children and families.
Accessing More Financial Aid for College
While children might have difficulty dealing with their parents' divorce, there is one silver lining for those planning to go to college. When children fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), they only need to report the financial information of their custodial parent instead of both. This might mean that your children might be eligible for more financial aid than they otherwise would be entitled to receive. Since divorce reduces your income, getting divorced might place your children in a better financial place for attending college and paying for it. While this is a potential benefit of divorce that isn't well-known, it can be significant.
What a Divorce Won't Do for You
In the same way that a divorce can provide some benefits and resolutions of the issues you are contending with, there are also some things you should understand that your divorce won't do for you. Here are some things you can anticipate that might be some downsides of getting divorced.
No Guarantee of an Equal Distribution of Assets
When you get divorced, you can't expect your assets to be divided equally between you and your spouse. Instead, as an equitable distribution state, New Jersey judges should divide assets fairly. The judge in your case will make decisions based on their limited information, which might not be the fairest outcome that could have been reached. This is one reason why trying to negotiate a mutually agreeable property settlement might be the best option.
No Guarantee of 50/50 Custody
Many parents hope that they will receive a 50/50 split of time with their children. However, this generally doesn't happen. One parent will typically have the children for more overnights than the other parent for various reasons. You should work to try to negotiate a fair parenting schedule that will work the best for you, your spouse, and your children rather than leaving the decision up to the court in most cases.
No Assurance That You and Your Spouse Will Get Along
Even though you will receive orders from the court to resolve the issues involved in your divorce case, there is no guarantee that you and your spouse will get along going forward. You'll still need to figure out how to deal with each other amicably to carry out the terms of your orders.
While a divorce decree will legally dissolve your marriage, it won't erase the responsibilities that each of you has for your children. You will need to figure out how to treat your ex-spouse civilly when exchanging your children, figuring out holiday and vacation schedules, making important decisions on behalf of your children, and other matters. These types of issues can be ongoing and last for years, so you should be prepared to handle them.
No Protection For Your Standard of Living
When you get divorced, you should anticipate that your standard of living will go down. A divorce won't protect your ability to continue enjoying the standard of living you did while you were married. It's cheaper for individual spouses to live together and share expenses than to maintain separate households. It's a good idea to talk to a financial adviser in advance of getting divorced to understand the financial impacts your divorce might have and create a post-divorce budget to address the change in circumstances.
No Resolution of Emotional Problems
Getting divorced does not mean that you will be vindicated for everything that happened during your marriage or that your spouse will be punished. The emotional wounds you have suffered will not be healed by your divorce. Instead, it might take some time to heal once your divorce is over.
The Court Might Not Give You What You Want
In some cases, divorcing spouses will engage in bitter litigation and head to court, believing that the judge will see things from their individual perspectives and issue orders reflecting that. However, fighting with your spouse through a long court process can be expensive and time-consuming. Since the judge doesn't know you and your family other than what they hear in court, it's unlikely the judge will see things your way or issue orders that you like. You can save money, time, and grief by working to reach an agreement with your spouse.
Talk to a Divorce Lawyer in New Jersey
To learn more about how a divorce might work in your case, talk to the Ziegler Law Group. We can review your case and help you understand the potential outcomes that might occur. Call us today to schedule a consultation at (973) 878-4373.
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