Filing for divorce is the first step to ending your marriage. Before a judge signs off on the legal split, you and your spouse must address several issues.
Regardless of where you are in the process, understanding some of the main points of a divorce proceeding helps. Discover three issues that need resolving before you receive a final decree.
1. Dividing marital property and debt
New York law requires couples to split assets and debt equitably. A divide of this kind considers several factors:
- Who has more premarital or separate property
- Who makes more money
- Who sacrificed the most career-wise to care for children
Keep in mind that equitable division does not mean an equal split
2. Child custody
When you have children, you must settle legal and physical custody. Legal custody determines who makes legal decisions. Most judges prefer parents to hold joint legal custody, enabling them both to remain active in their children’s lives. Physical custody deals with the schedule for the time the children spend with each parent. Crafting a plan that allows you and your spouse as much access to the children as possible is preferable to the court.
3. Support payments
The court requires you to address spousal maintenance and child support. The amounts of both payments vary based on your income, the length of the marriage and the ages of the children. The payee for spousal maintenance will likely also pay child support. Even if you do not qualify for spousal maintenance, it does not bar you from receiving child support.
Once you and your spouse resolve these issues, whether you do so in court or with a mediator, the court should grant your divorce. This gives you a fresh start on your new life.