What will the judge decide in my divorce case?
The judge assigned to hear your divorce case has jurisdiction over a broad range of issues that will impact you as you transition from life as a married couple to two separate households. Depending on your individual circumstances, some or all of the following categories will be the subject of the judge’s decision, which is properly called an order.
Prior to any division of marital property, it will be necessary for both you and your spouse to complete a financial statement that will list all assets and obligations. It is important to be forthright in providing this information, as it is against the law to attempt to hide assets in a divorce proceeding.
All property acquired during a marriage is presumed to be marital property, but either spouse can overcome that presumption with proof that specific property may be separate in nature. An inheritance, for example, may be separate property based on how it was treated by the respective parties.
A general rule is that the parties will each receive 50 percent of all property unless good cause exists to award one less or more than half. Seldom will each spouse receive the exact same property division; more typically, the judge will divide the property equitably, and each will receive different assets of relatively equal value.
The court is especially protective of children when they are involved in a divorce but tends to favor an agreement that can be worked out by the divorcing parents over one imposed by the judge. To that end, court-ordered mediation may be appropriate. If possible, shared parenting plans with an active role by each spouse is desirable.
In general, there are two kinds of care issues regarding children; decision making responsibilities regarding matters such as religion and education choices and the day-to-day care taker functions.
In the vast majority of cases involving children, child support is calculated using a statutory mathematical formula. The judge does, however, have wide discretion, to make any child support orders he or she feels is appropriate.
Alimony, or spousal support, is not determined based on any specific formula. Whether it is awarded at all or for how long, is based on a number of factors including length of marriage, the financial situation of each spouse, whether one spouse provided domestic support during the marriage and how able each is to earn an income capable of providing a minimum standard of living.
Based on the facts and circumstances of the divorce, the judge may be involved in issuing a protective order if there has been any history or threat of domestic violence. Additionally, if you changed your name when you were married and wish to resume using your maiden name, you cannot simply do so after your divorce is final. You need to request a name change as part of the judge’s order setting the terms of the divorce.
Minimizing the Judge’s Role
Although the judge must approve and finalize all the specifics of your divorce, the more you and your soon to be ex can agree on, the better. It will save you time and money, and even if you don’t get everything you want, most people are more satisfied with terms they have agreed to than ones imposed by judicial order.
If you’re unsure of what’s going to happen, it might be a good idea to speak to a divorce law firm in NYC who can help. Contact us – we give a risk free consultation to all new prospective clients. There’s absolutely no obligation.