Divorce is not only a significant transition in your life but is also a serious legal matter with serious implications for your future. If you’re facing a divorce, it’s important to carefully consider every applicable component and to make decisions according to you and your children’s best interests, and a dedicated divorce lawyer in Seattle will help ensure that you do.
The Terms of Your Divorce
Your divorce won’t be exactly like any other divorce. While your divorce will follow its own trajectory, its terms will focus on the same issues that every divorce includes, including (as applicable):
- Your Children’s Child Custody Arrangements
- The Division of Your Marital Property
- Child Support Payments
- Alimony Payments
Any one of these issues can become extremely complicated and bears taking a closer look.
Child Custody Arrangements for Your Shared Children
In every divorce involving shared children, issues related to child custody arrangements tend to take precedence. If you and your divorcing spouse are able to find middle ground and hammer out arrangements that you are both willing to accept, it helps keep the court out of the decision-making process. Although the court is always guided by the best interests of the children involved, the court simply doesn’t have your intimate knowledge regarding your children’s unique needs and concerns. Further, if you are willing to work together on the matter, you and your divorcing spouse can get as creative with the schedule as you want – or need – to. The court will typically sign off on anything that works for your family (within reason).
Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
It’s important to distinguish between legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the important parental responsibilities and rights related to making significant decisions in your children’s lives, including those related to:
- Health Care
- Extracurricular Activities
- Religious Education
Generally, both parents share legal custody, but there are exceptional circumstances in which they do not.
Physical custody refers to which parent the children live with – and when. Physical custody can be joint custody, which means the children live with both parents a significant amount of the time (but they don’t necessarily have to divide their time equally between both parents) – often, one parent is named primary custodial parent in joint custody arrangements. Sole physical custody means that the children live with one parent the vast majority of the time and see their other parent according to a visitation schedule.
Dividing Your Marital Property
The division of marital property is obviously a critical element of any divorce, and after child custody arrangements, it is the issue that is most likely to become contentious. In WA, your marital property will be divided in a manner that the court determines to be just and right – or fair, given the circumstances involved in your divorce. Marital property refers, generally, to those assets that you and your spouse acquired together during your years as a married couple. Exceptions include gifts or inheritances that came to either of you in your own name only during the course of your marriage. Further, that property that you brought into your marriage with you and you kept separate from your family’s financials should remain separate.
The distinction between what is marital property and what is separate property can be especially complex. For instance, if your spouse brought a business into your marriage and he or she kept that business separate throughout your marriage, that business is likely your spouse’s separate property. Keeping the money that flows through a business completely separate from one’s family financials, however, isn’t an easy task. Further, even if your spouse did manage to keep the business completely separate, any increase in the business’s value will likely be determined to be a marital asset that needs to be divided in a manner that is just and right. In other words, complications are not uncommon.
Child Support Payments
Child support is based on guidelines forwarded by the state, which help ensure that both parents contribute to their children’s ongoing financial support. Child support usually amounts to a monthly payment made by the parent with a visitation schedule to the parent with whom the children live primarily to help assuage the cost of raising the children on a day-to-day basis.
Alimony (or Spousal Maintenance)
Alimony is applicable when the court determines that one divorcing spouse will have a financial need post-divorce and that the other divorcing spouse has the financial resources to help – usually temporarily.
Don’t Delay, Consult with an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Bellevue, WA
If you are moving toward a divorce, a dedicated Bellevue divorce lawyer at Aberdeen Family Law is poised to apply their considerable experience to help you obtain divorce terms that protect you and your children’s future. Your case is important, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 206-790-6430 today.