Normally, people expecting a divorce already have an idea of what to expect. Many have seen divorces on television or in the movies and, often, you know someone who has gone through a divorce personally. And it is increasingly common to have experienced the divorce of the parents themselves. Despite these “second-hand” experiences, coping with your divorce is one of the most traumatic events in life. You will not face only the legal termination of one of the most important relationships in your life, but you must also start thinking about unpleasant situations, such as the division of property and the search for a new home. In many cases, you also have to get used to the idea of not seeing your children daily. It is important to understand what the divorce is for and why not. So, what is the use of divorce?
What divorce can do
Division of goods. The divorce will determine who will stay with what in the division. A family court will try to divide the assets of marriage as economically as possible. In most states, the following will be excluded from this division: assets acquired before marriage, assets donated or inherited. In some states (where the partnership is recognized), this entails a 50 percent distribution of the goods acquired during the marriage for each of the parties. Other states (where the partnership is not recognized) will review the financial circumstances of each of the couple, their future financial plans and other relevant matters to make an equitable distribution of the assets.
Because the division of assets is never predictable, if any of your assets is essential, it is best to hire a lawyer to negotiate and establish in advance the division of property with your spouse’s lawyer. For example, it may happen that although you would love to keep your home, in reality, you have a greater need to keep your business. Therefore, you could give up your house in exchange for your business. In this way, you could try to reach an agreement with your spouse to divide the assets.
Obligations of sustenance: The divorce will also determine who is obligated to provide support in a couple. This can be done through the support of children or their spouse (also called “spousal support”). Child support payments are largely set by state laws, but this is not always the case. Also, child support orders depend on agreements regarding custody. In general, spousal maintenance depends on the facts that motivate each divorce and the financial circumstances of the couple. Therefore, it is very difficult to predict the final decision of the court.
Custody of minors and visits: In addition to the distribution of assets, the other main function of divorce is to establish custody of the children and the schedule of visits. This is also not predictable. Although the courts try to base their decisions on factors that suppose “the best interest” of the minor, these can vary according to the cases and the courts. After all, when making decisions about custody, judges are naturally influenced by their own beliefs, opinions, and values. Add to that that judges usually hear the worst of people during custody proceedings. Thus, with its limited perspective on the lives of parents, a family court does not always make the “best” decision possible regarding custody. Remember, negotiation and agreements are important options to keep in mind. Anyone who must go through a divorce, especially a child, will benefit if an agreement for custody is reached.
What divorce cannot do
Ensure accurate and equitable division. A divorce cannot ensure a mathematically accurate division of property, nor of time with children. Because there are not two people, nor two marriages, nor two identical divorces, the judge who orders a divorce must make the best decision with the time and information limitations available. It may not always be the fairest decision possible and, certainly, it will not have the purpose of favoring you individually in its entirety. Family courts should make the best possible determination of the worst circumstances. For example, a custody agreement will not be very satisfactory for parents when one of them lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and the other in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Ensure civil relations: Even when a court can enter into custody and visitation agreements, it will not be present every Friday at the time a mother leaves the children in her ex-spouse’s house. Nor will it be during the weekend to make sure that the father does not make malicious comments about the mother in front of the children. Ultimately, the court order is only a paper. The mother and father must maintain a civilized relationship, so that custody and visits can be carried out. Divorce does not take away responsibility for your children, and this includes dealing with the other parent. Divorce does not take from either the right of paternity (or motherhood) over children (except in cases of abuse).
Maintain their standard of living: You must recognize that a divorce will not increase your salary, nor will it prevent your standard of living from decreasing once you divorce. Unfortunately, from an economic point of view, it is simply cheaper for two people to live together and share expenses, than to maintain two separate homes. Divorce will change your standards of living and there will be very little (if anything) that the court can do about it.
Solve emotional problems: Finally, a court cannot punish your ex-spouse or give you entirely the reason for everything that happened during your marriage. Also, the divorce trial will not mitigate the emotional damage, nor prevent you from feeling sad when thinking about the failed relationship. That is your job, although you can seek help through therapists and support groups.