The Law and Divorce, Knowing Divorce Laws - FamilyEducation

Divorce Law

Divorce can be an very litigious process. Learn about the laws that could affect your divorce process.

Advantages of Mediation

Advantages of Mediation For certain people, mediation is an appropriate way to reach an agreement. The best candidates are those who are willing to negotiate directly with their spouse to save money and heartache and get on with their lives. They are people who understand the value of avoiding expensive, heated litigation and are willing to give something up in order to settle quickly and as amicably as possible. read more

Alimony: Getting the Best Deal

Alimony: Getting the Best Deal You Can Do It! When negotiating, start by asking for more than you either need or expect to get. Then, during negotiations, be willing to give up what you don't mind losing. You Can Do It! If possible, arrange spousal support through mediation or settlement, not litigation. This will provide both parties with the most flexibility in getting what they deem most important from the arrangement. read more

Alimony: It's Just a Check

Alimony: It's Just a Check You have done everything possible to start over with your new marriage. But, if you have an alimony agreement with your previous spouse, you will have an annoying monthly reminder of your past marriage. The key to dealing with alimony is to keep your emotions out of it. Remind yourself that it's part of your budget, just like any other item. read more

All About Arbitration

All About Arbitration Divorce Dictionary In arbitration, a case is decided by an official arbitrator who hears all evidence and makes a decision. Individuals are represented by attorneys. Unlike litigating in court, there are no appeals. read more

Attorney Checklist

Organize divorce information and lawyers with this attorney checklist worksheet. read more

Choosing a Divorce Mediator

Choosing a Divorce Mediator Unfortunately, there are no standards for mediators, and in most states, anyone can hang a shingle and call himself or herself a mediator. Your state or city might have an organization that admits mediators based on training and accumulated experience, and if so, look there for a list of references. Your local bar association might be able to give you the names of reputable mediators. Word of mouth is a good way to locate an appropriate professional as well. read more

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative Divorce Red Alert Nothing in the collaborative law agreement precludes parties from litigating if the process breaks down. But if they do so, they will have to move ahead with new attorneys. read more

Do's and Don'ts When You're in Court

Do's and Don'ts When You're in Court Trial by Fire: When You're the Witness As much as you might wish the witness seat would open up and swallow you, you will need to deal with the opposing attorney the best you can. (If your spouse is pro se and questions you himself, his lack of experience could be advantageous to your case.) What can you do when you're looking at a lawyer, but you feel as if you're peering into the mouth of a shark? Some pointers: read more

Filing a Motion

Filing a Motion Divorce Dictionary A motion is a request made of a judge while an action is pending or at trial. Motions can be made in writing for the court to consider, or orally, such as at trial. In matrimonial cases, motions are typically made for temporary support, temporary custody, visitation rights, or to enjoin someone from taking money or property. A “motion” may also be called an “order to show cause,” if it's brought under emergency circumstances where the court must act quickly to resolve the issue. read more

How Does Discovery Work?

How Does Discovery Work? Divorce Dictionary Discovery is the act of revealing information so that both parties are fully informed of facts before trial. Discovery can pertain to custody matters or finances or to one's physical or mental condition when those issues are relevant, such as when a spouse claims an inability to work due to an injury. Depending on the jurisdiction, other areas may be discoverable as well. read more

How to Choose the Best Lawyer for You

How to Choose the Best Lawyer for You Even if your case seems pretty straightforward, go to someone who has handled matrimonial cases before. You don't need an attorney who works solely in that area, whose fees might be very high. But you do want someone who knows which papers have to be filed in which courthouse and who can take your case to trial if need be. Now is not the time to do your third cousin a favor by hiring her son, who was recently admitted to the bar. read more

How to Interview a Divorce Lawyer

How to Interview a Divorce Lawyer What exactly do you need to know before you hire a lawyer? Here are some questions to ask before you write a retainer check or sign on the dotted line. Concerning general experience, ask these questions: How many matrimonial cases have you handled? How many of those cases went to trial? (An attorney who has done a lot of trials might not be a good negotiator. Keep that in mind, especially when the lawyer hasn't been in practice very long.) read more

How to Obtain Limited-Scope Legal Assistance for Your Divorce

How to Obtain Limited-Scope Legal Assistance for Your Divorce If you are seeking true, unbundled legal representation for your divorce, your best bet may not be the storefront legal office that promises to take you through the process for anywhere from $99 to $399. At such offices, you'll often end up working with a paralegal who can fill out forms for you and file appropriate court documents, but who is not geared to offer specific, complex advice. read more

Is "Pro Se" Divorce for You?

Is "Pro Se" Divorce for You? If you have been married just a short time, or if both you and your spouse have few or no assets and no children, pro se divorce could be your ticket. But those who go down this path, while potentially saving money, place themselves at risk. read more

Is a Full-Service Divorce Lawyer Right for You?

Is a Full-Service Divorce Lawyer Right for You? Red Alert An interest in and ability to navigate the law is key for the individual doing even part of the work him- or herself. Many people are simply incapable of dealing with the paperwork generated by divorce, let alone the sophisticated calculations, today derived from computer programs, needed to arrive at support payments or the tax ramifications of a property settlement. read more

Mediator Checklist

Use this form to keep track of your mediator's fees, form of payments, and overall plan. read more

Obtaining an Order of Protection

Obtaining an Order of Protection Divorce Dictionary An order of protection—which can only be filed against a current or former family member by blood or marriage, family or household members, or other like relationship depending on the state—is an order directing one spouse to refrain from abusing, harassing, or even contacting the other, among other restraints. Violation of an order of protection can result in arrest and imprisonment. read more

Reviewing Your Prenuptial Agreement

Reviewing Your Prenuptial Agreement Divorce Dictionary A prenuptial agreement is a written contract entered into by a couple before marriage to establish their rights in the event of a death or divorce. The validity of such agreements depends on state law. It is advisable to sign a prenuptial agreement only if you are sure that you have plenty of time to read and understand it, you know what assets your soon-to-be spouse has (and vice versa), and you have your own attorney review the document. read more

The Default Divorce

The Default Divorce Some spouses never answer the divorce papers they receive. They just don't care, or they figure they'll let you do all the work to get the divorce (maybe the way it was in the marriage). Do you have to wait until your spouse responds before you can move ahead? read more

The Judge's Role in Your Divorce

The Judge's Role in Your Divorce Perhaps the most important person you'll deal with as you go to trial is the judge—just another human being, albeit one who has the power to make decisions for you and your spouse. In a small number of states, your case might be tried by a jury, but if not, a judge will decide the outcome. As the decider (trier of fact, in courtspeak), the judge listens, takes notes, sometimes asks questions, and when the case is over, makes a decision. read more

The Mediation Process from Beginning to End

The Mediation Process from Beginning to End What goes on behind closed doors in mediation? A mediator will often start the process by asking you to write out your goals—what you would like to come away with. You will be asked to anticipate such problem areas as custody or support. You might be asked to set forth your assets and liabilities in a sworn (notarized) statement, just as you would have done with an attorney. This gives everyone involved a clear idea of what you're dealing with and how far apart you really are. read more

Trials and Tribulations: Your Day in Divorce Court

Trials and Tribulations: Your Day in Divorce Court Judges generally try to help you resolve your case before the trial date, but that is often simply impossible. If, after months and even years of negotiations, conferences, and motions, you and your spouse or ex-spouse still have not reached an agreement, your last recourse is to have a trial. read more

Twelve Tips for Keeping Legal Fees Under Control

Twelve Tips for Keeping Legal Fees Under Control We can't emphasize enough the importance of being vigilant about how and when you spend your hard-earned money on legal fees. Self-restraint is the order of the day. Here are some tips from the trenches of divorce. You may say, “I don't have the patience for all this detail,” but take it from us, you will save thousands of dollars if you follow these guidelines: read more

Understanding the Divorce Lawyer's Fees

Understanding the Divorce Lawyer's Fees Why Legal Representation Is So Costly Silver Linings Some competent attorneys are willing to work out a payment plan in advance. It is to the attorney's advantage to make it as painless as possible for you to keep up with the bills. Many attorneys never collect the fully billed amount. If you take responsibility by requesting a payment plan, the attorney is more likely to collect his fees and be agreeable. read more

What Is Maintenance (Alimony)?

What Is Maintenance (Alimony)? Whatever your situation, you must first understand the maintenance basics—what maintenance (or alimony) is exactly, when it is appropriate, and how the general rules applying to maintenance will determine what happens to you. In a nutshell, maintenance is financial support that one spouse provides to the other in the event of divorce or legal separation. Maintenance is determined, in large mea-sure, by the laws of the state where you live. Some basic rules, however, are virtually universal: read more

What Is Mediation?

What Is Mediation? In mediation, you and your spouse settle the issues of your divorce with the help of a mediator, who could be a social worker or an attorney. Sometimes, a social worker and attorney pair up to help the divorcing couple. The mediator has multiple tasks, including the following: Divorce Dictionary Divorce mediation is a process whereby a neutral person—the mediator, who is usually a lawyer or social worker—works with the divorcing couple towards reaching a settlement agreement. read more

What Your Divorce Lawyer Should Be Doing and When

What Your Divorce Lawyer Should Be Doing and When The practice of law is not a science, but it's not exactly an art either. There are certain things your attorney can and should be doing. For some guidelines, refer to the following list: Your lawyer should have an overall plan for your case. This might simply mean that she plans to meet with your spouse's lawyer within the next month and settle the case, have documents drawn up within two weeks after that meeting, have them signed within two weeks after that, and then submit them to court. read more

What's Fair? Deciding on Alimony

What's Fair? Deciding on Alimony How do you know how much maintenance to pay or to demand? There are well-established parameters. In general, courts look at the following factors to determine the size of the support check. It follows, of course, that lawyers who try to settle a case out of court need to look at these factors (or you and your spouse must consider them if you're trying to do it yourselves): Your income. Is there sufficient money to enable both of you to enjoy the same lifestyle, or are you both going to have to cut back? read more

When and How to Fire Your Divorce Lawyer

When and How to Fire Your Divorce Lawyer One woman we know is in the fourth year of her divorce case—and on her third lawyer. Is she an exception? Not necessarily. Firing a lawyer is more common than you might think. Why does this happen? When is it warranted? And how do you pull it off? read more

When to Avoid Mediation

When to Avoid Mediation Take our “mediation-elimination” quiz. If you answer any of the following questions with a “no,” mediation is not for you: Do we both want this divorce? Do I know what our assets and debts are? Are we communicating? read more