If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement over divorce terms, then we highly recommend talking with a divorce lawyer in Arlington, VA at May Law, LLP. It may be in the best interest of both spouses to give mediation their best attempt, as this can save a significant amount of stress and money. When negotiating, it is important to be knowledgeable on state laws, what your financial situation looks like, and the factors that most judges consider when calculating an alimony amount. By hiring an attorney from our firm, you can understand more fully what a realistic outcome looks like.
Hiring a Mediator and Attorney
For those going through the legal separation of a partner, may want to consider seeking the representation of an Arlington, VA divorce lawyer. We have been protecting the lives of people since starting our law firm business in 1995. Since then, we have helped clients find peace and acceptance in thousands of instances. We understand that divorce is a painful process, but we will do what we can to alleviate the stress you’re feeling.
A mediator and attorney can be helpful people to hire when it comes to your divorce negotiation over alimony. If you are using collaborative law or mediation to resolve this issue, these professionals can be helpful in obtaining an arrangement that satisfies both sides. If you are currently in a contested divorce, your attorney can help determine what amount to ask for or suggest paying to the other spouse, based on factors judges are likely to consider.
Consider Your Spouse’s Situation
When deciding how much is to be paid or received in alimony, consider your spouse’s situation too. Most states necessitate that each spouse discloses financial information as part of the divorce proceeding and negotiation process. Even if one spouse claims they are the one who requires monetary support, documentation is needed in order to confirm these claims. It is also important that the potentially paying spouse’s finances are reviewed, to ensure they won’t be put into financial turmoil due to the arrangement.
Here are examples of key information to obtain during the discovery period of your divorce, so that you can agree upon a fair arrangement:
-Spouse’s separate assets. If the other spouse has separate assets, then the other may be entitled to know the value. Depending on where you reside, a judge may ask to see separate assets when determining support amount.
-Yearly income and expenses. What each spouse makes per year is essential to the negotiation. However, it is equally as crucial to find out how much each pays in expenses that are related to living. A detailed report of monthly income and expenses must be one of the forms that each spouse is willing to share with the other.
-Other forms of income. One or both spouses may receive income outside of their yearly salary. Benefits, overtime pay, and bonuses are also factored into income, and can be an influential factor in how much is to be paid or received in alimony payments.
Considering Your Situation
If you go into an alimony negotiation not having a full understanding of what your yearly income and expenses look like, then you may end up agreeing to terms that don’t work for you. A divorce lawyer in Arlington can look over your financial documents and give you an idea of what is a reasonable amount to pay or receive alimony based on both you and your spouse’s current financial status.
The steps to obtain a divorce will depend on the circumstances of the marriage. If the partners have been married for a short period of time and do not have children or shared debts or property, then it may be simpler. By comparison, if the couple has been married for many years and has children and shared assets, it can be a more complicated process.
What Should My Financial Priorities Be During Divorce?
No two marriages are exactly alike, so it is perhaps not surprising that two divorces are exactly alike either. Every individual navigating the divorce process must ultimately determine his or her financial priorities based on the unique nature of their situation. With that said, a divorce lawyer from VA at May Law, LLP is generally able to provide solid legal guidance regarding one’s financial priorities during divorce.
If you are currently navigating a divorce, it is important to consider your short-term and long-term needs as you evaluate your financial priorities. Divorce is inherently expensive, as it is notoriously challenging to transition a single family home into two distinct households. But with a clear vision of what you need to accomplish and focus on at this time, you can both provide for your needs in the short-term and lay a solid financial foundation for the future. Depending on how you approach it, divorce can serve as a “fresh financial start” even if you are struggling with debt or other financial challenges. Approaching your financial future on your own terms can be freeing in unexpected ways.
Financial Priorities During Divorce – The Basics
It is important to speak with a divorce lawyer in Virginia about your short-term and long-term financial goals when you are working together to negotiate a fair divorce settlement. In the short-term, you may need to focus on essentials in order to free up energy and resources for a strong financial future. For example, you may choose to move into a smaller residence so that you can afford to prioritize ownership of your retirement funds during your marital property division process. Being thrifty now can pay off later.
With that said, you may also be concerned about financial decisions that could potentially impact your loved ones. You may need to structure your divorce settlement in such a way that your children do not experience unnecessary “whiplash” by moving into accommodations so Spartan that they no longer feel that they live at “home” but instead simply have a roof over their heads. This is just an example of the ways in which your short-term goals may need to be a little flexible in order to account for any number of x-factors.
A member of our legal team can assist you in every step, whether you have been together for a shorter or longer term. In addition, there are many variables that need to be considered, regardless of the individual circumstances:
Common Steps in a Divorce Case
1. Filing a Petition – even if both spouses agree that a divorce is the right course of action, one must take the lead on filing an official divorce petition with the court.
2. Temporary Orders – if a spouse is dependent on the other for support of finances or will have child custody, then they should ask the court to establish temporary orders for this support and custody.
3. Service of Process – the person who files for a divorce must provide paperwork (service of process) that shows proof a copy of the divorce petition was sent to their spouse.
4.Response – the spouse who received the service of process must respond to the petition. At this time the grounds for divorce may be disputed.
5. Negotiation – if issues are not agreed upon, spouses will attempt to negotiate and work through their differences. If a resolution is not possible, mediation and an evaluation of parents (if there are children) may be ordered by the court to be performed by a social worker.
6.Trial – issues that have not been resolved will be decided at a court trial. If you need a Virginia divorce lawyer, we can represent you in court.
7. Order of Dissolution – this officially ends the marriage and lists how property, debts, support and child custody will be divided between both parties.
Sometimes, if a spouse feels blindsided by being served divorce papers, they may try to prolong the process as much as possible. By having a legal professional from May Law, LLP on your side, we can help expedite the process if your spouse intentionally lags or causes problems.
Spousal Support: The Basics
With few exceptions, property acquired during the duration of the couple’s marriage must be equitably divided in the event of divorce. Please note that “divided equitably” does not mean that a couple’s assets must each be sold and split down the middle. As long as the total value of a couple’s marital property is divided evenly, a divorce arrangement is likely to be approved by a judge. Similarly, if a contested divorce process lands a couple in front of a judge so that the couple’s disagreements related to property division may be addressed, the presiding judge will seek to ensure that the total value/worth of the marital property in question is evenly divided.
Sometimes, one spouse will prefer to retain ownership of certain assets (like the marital residence, retirement accounts, etc.) while the other spouse will prefer to receive a monthly income. This is how spousal arrangements generally evolve. One spouse retains the values of certain assets while another spouse opts to receive an income of equitable value over time. If the spouse receiving alimony payments also retains ownership of other marital assets, the spousal support payment amounts will be lower than they would be if the arrangement was structured otherwise. It is therefore important to speak with divorce lawyer in Arlington, Virginia about what kinds of property division arrangements are most suited to your unique needs.
Spousal Support – Thoughts From Our Team
The process of determining spousal support (also referred to as alimony) is frequently referenced in popular culture but is not widely understood. Popular myths hold that all divorces lead to one spouse or the other receiving such payments. Other myths insist that spousal support is somehow an inequitable arrangement. In truth, spousal support payments are designed to help spouses divide their marital assets equitably in an arrangement that tends to benefit both parties in different ways.
With that said, it does not make sense to agree to or award spousal support in every divorce case. Equitable distribution of marital assets is a tricky business. Exploring your property division options before committing to a strategy (that either may or may not contain spousal support) can only benefit your newly single financial reality.
How We Can Help
If you have questions about how your finances may be impacted by your divorce, about how your marital property should be divided or about any other aspect of the legal side of the divorce process, please do not hesitate to speak with a member of our team as soon as you possibly can. Divorce is unquestionably expensive, as it is inherently costly to transition a single home into two individual homes. However, divorce does not generally need to “break the bank.” The legal team at May Law, LLP can help to advise you of your legal and financial options so that you can set a solid financial foundation for your newly single life moving forward.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you and your spouse have determined that divorce is the healthiest option moving forward, please schedule a consultation with a Virginia divorce lawyer at May Law, LLP at your earliest convenience. Connecting with experienced legal representation early in your divorce process will help to preserve your legal options and give you greater flexibility when it comes to determining the most beneficial property division strategy for your divorce. Regardless of whether you hope to resolve your property division arrangements out of court or suspect that your divorce may require judicial intervention, working with a member of our team early and often can help you to begin the next phase of your life with as much financial stability as possible.
Is a divorce necessary to end a common law marriage?
May Law LLP serves the legal needs of the community; our divorce lawyer can help you terminate your marriage whether you are in a common law or court sanctioned marriage. Divorce laws and how they may affect common law marriages vary by state. If you live in Virginia, contact our office to find out what you need to know before moving forward. Our divorce lawyer offers a free initial consultation to get you started on deciding how to move forward.
Are common law marriages legal?
Common law marriages are not recognized in every state. Even in the states which do recognize them, divorce laws often vary among them. To further complicate matters, if you and your partner currently reside in separate states since breaking up, the two states may have different laws. It’s important to contact our divorce lawyer at May Law LLP who can clarify the legal issues that are involved.
Is getting a divorce the same process for common law marriages?
Again, this will vary by state. For instance, if you and your partner reside in a state that does not recognize common law marriages, you may simply be able to part ways. However, even in states that do not recognize them, there may other issues that need to be resolved. This may include child support, spousal support, child custody, and asset distribution. Our divorce lawyer can work with you to create a formal and legally binding agreement between you and your partner to help protect your rights.
If your common law marriage is legally recognized in your state of residence, the procedure for a divorce is intrinsically the same as it would be for a formal marriage. These points are important to keep in mind, and your divorce lawyer can provide more information specific to your circumstances:
- Your divorce lawyer will file the necessary paperwork to terminate your common law marriage with the appropriate court. This process initiates a request to the Court to dissolve your common law marriage. Part of that process will include the division of property that you and your partner acquired since the time your relationship began.
- Your divorce lawyer can request the Court to consider your needs for child support, custody, and spousal support if applicable.
How does the division of property work with a common law marriage dissolution?
Dividing assets after the conclusion of any kind of relationship can be problematic. This is also true of common law marriages. In an ideal world, the two partners work out a mutually agreeable set of terms and submit the agreement to a divorce court for approval. However, this is rarely the case which is why it’s important to work with a divorce lawyer who can protect your best interests. Depending on the nature and value of your shared assets, as well as assets whose ownership may be in question, not obtaining your fair share could result in losing many thousands of dollars.
Considerations in Gray Divorce
It used to be that once a marriage had passed a certain benchmark of years, it was considered basically ‘safe’ from divorce. However, in this day and age, numerous social and anthropological facts contribute to make divorce much more of a reality for those over 50. While the act itself is much more common nowadays, it is not necessarily the same process for seniors as it is for those in their 20s and 30s. If you are planning to divorce later in life, especially after retirement, there are considerations you must take into account.
Social Security Questions
It is reasonable for one to assume that Social Security benefits would be divisible, as is most other property, in a divorce. This is not actually the case; courts may not divide Social Security income or benefits because they are considered non-marital property. However, the Social Security Administration does permit spouses (or ex-spouses, in some cases) to qualify for their own benefits based on their spouse’s work history. The criteria for receiving your own benefits based on your spouse’s work history are:
- If you were married for 10 or more years
- If you are presently unmarried (your spouse may be remarried)
- If you are aged 62 or older
- If your spouse is/was eligible for either Social Security retirement or disability benefits
- If the amount you would earn from your own work history would be less than what you would earn from your spouse’s
This option can alleviate many issues in gray divorce. If a divorced spouse can still claim SSI benefits, they may be less inclined to fight for other assets or to argue against a certain property division.
Estate Planning and Retirement Accounts
The other major issue that most younger couples do not have to confront is that of estate planning. Most state’s laws do not automatically revoke any provisions in your will that grant bequests to a former spouse upon a divorce becoming final. If you wish to change them, your will will likely have to be rewritten by a competent estate planning attorney.
Retirement accounts may qualify as marital property in your state, and usually do, meaning that their proceeds will be divided in most divorces. However, they can also touch estate planning concerns, because in a gray divorce, both spouses are usually approaching the end of their working lives, so retirement funds become more important. Also, some retirement accounts and insurance policies that specify beneficiaries may not be challenged by law. In other words, if you wish to change the beneficiary on an insurance policy or retirement account after a divorce, you must do so manually – it will not be done for you.
Do Not Go It Alone
If you are in the position where divorce is imminent, a divorce lawyer offers can significantly ease the burden and are experienced in negotiating the unique issues that can appear in a gray divorce.
How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Divorce?
Divorces can be challenging, while costing both parties legal fees and, if things are complex or do not go well, can take months or even years to complete. Most commonly, divorces can take about 10 to 12 months, but if assets are simple and there are no children in the picture, it could take four months or less.
Factors That Complicate Divorce
Issues that can be challenging when making decisions about your future include:
- Child custody and support
- Spousal support
- Splitting property
- Dividing debts
One factor that can influence your divorce time frame is whether you and your spouse are able to settle things quickly and make decisions that are good for everyone involved. The cases which involve an angry spouse, one who is trying to break laws, or when complex assets are included, can go to court which significantly extends the timeline, potentially to over a year.
While court might be necessary for some details you can’t seem to work out between the two of you, it’s important to keep the legal fees in mind and know that the more time you spend in court fighting, the less satisfied you both may be with the end result.
If you are both more interested in a quicker process, even if you have a few issues to work out, you can hire a mediator who acts as a neutral third party that helps work out the details. This person needs to have an understanding of the laws in your state to more effectively help settle the case, but should also be an effective communicator to help you both to more easily come to an agreement.
Once you and your soon-to-be-ex settle all your disputes, the mediator can draft the divorce papers and either you or they can file them. If both you and your spouse can stay motivated and want to get the job done, this will help speed up the process.
One other option that can speed up the divorce process is hiring another third-party person to work with you, except in this case, any issues you and your spouse cannot agree upon are decided by the arbitrator. This person could be an attorney or former judge. It is still important that you have your own lawyer working with you, but the arbitrator can help you finalize agreements on difficult issues.
Consult a Divorce Lawyer
No matter what your spouse thinks about the divorce, it’s important that you have an experienced divorce lawyer on your team. This will help protect your rights in the divorce and ensure you obtain the fairest settlement in the end.
We can offer compassionate and professional legal advice and a thorough evaluation of your divorce case. Your initial consultation is completely free, so do not hesitate to call us at (703) 312-0410 to speak with a divorce lawyer in Arlington, VA at May Law, LLP.