Child custody, Property division, and Support.
Family Law major issues: Child custody, Property division, and Support.
In family law, the big issues are child custody, property division, and support. Divorce is always the beginning of the family law issues. If you need a less expensive divorce, it will serve you well to make an effort to work through these major issues without lawyers in an amicable fashion. If you have children, obtaining a friendly divorce is especially important because you will be working with your former spouse weekly on child rearing.
The most amicable marital breakup is called an uncontested divorce. This refers to the situation where the parties agree to all the terms of the divorce, and they file the court papers together to implement the divorce. Even when all the issues have easily resolved, it is wise to have a lawyer look over the papers to make sure all is in order.
The second most friendly marital split is a mediated divorce. In divorce mediation, a neutral third party helps the parties work through whatever remaining issues they did not agree upon themselves, and encourages them to arrive at mutually-agreeable compromises. The mediator does not make decisions; he or she instead helps the parties examine possibilities and move closer toward agreement. Many couples who use mediators also hire consulting attorneys to explain the ramifications of various settlement positions, and make sure that the settlement documents are proper.
If you and your spouse are unable to reach compromises without additional assistance, one option is to hire collaborative lawyers. In this situation, each party agrees to disclose all information necessary for settlement. The lawyers then work together to find common ground. A collaborative divorce falls between mediation and all-out war. It can be well worth trying if the stakes are high, such as when the parties have children.
If mediation and collaboration are insufficient to reach settlement, a faster and less expensive alternative than litigation is arbitration. In arbitration, just as in a trial, each side prepares arguments and presents evidence. The hearing is private, unlike a trial, and it can be scheduled much sooner than a trial docket generally allows.
The last alternative is trial—the most expensive and contentious way to obtain a divorce. Few lawyers recommend it. If the parties have young children, trial should be avoided at all costs, because after trial the parties are likely to be lifelong enemies.
Whatever route you choose, lawyers can be most helpful. They explain the proceedings, deal with requests for information, handle the paperwork, lead the negotiations, help inventory and assess assets and debts, evaluate who owns what, find hidden assets and income, keep the process moving forward, act as a buffer when tensions rise, and counterbalance an aggressive spouse or lawyer, among other things.
If you want to learn more about family law and the big issues which are child custody, property division, and support, contact an experienced Family Law Attorney who can help you decide what your best options are.