The granting of a divorce permanently terminates your right to seek spousal support, alimony and a court ordered division of marital property.
As your attorney, I keep your best interests in mind. If you would benefit from spousal support, alimony or a division of property, I would like to help you with these matters.
The following list of questions is designed to help you determine what kind of divorce is for you.
Does your spouse earn significantly more than you?
If your answer is yes, you are probably entitled to some form of spousal support (sometimes called APL) even if only for a short time. You may be entitled to APL even if you are the one who chose to leave the marriage. Spousal support and APL terminate when a divorce is granted. Depending on the specific facts of your case, the court may grant “alimony” as an ongoing form of support at the time of your divorce.
Did you or your spouse accumulate assets from the date you got married through the date you separated?
Please keep in mind that it does not matter if the asset is in your spouse’s name alone. If it was acquired during the marriage, or if it gained value during the marriage, it is marital property. (If the answer is yes, you probably should have a property settlement agreement, assuming that you and your spouse agree on the division of the assets. If you and your spouse do not agree, you probably should pursue equitable distribution.
Did you incur debt during your marriage, either jointly with your spouse or in your name alone?
If the answer is yes, it is probably marital debt that should be divided, much like assets are divided.
If your spouse makes significantly more than you, were you married for a significant amount of time?
If so, you may be entitled to alimony. In addition, your division of assets is probably not a 50/50 case. Contrary to popular belief, the marital estate is not automatically divided 50/50. The purpose of the division of assets and debts (known as Equitable Distribution) is about helping people move forward after a divorce. It is not about rewarding or punishing a person for what happened during the marriage and it is not an opportunity to “take back” what was contributed or spent during the marriage. If one spouse makes significantly less than the other and the parties were married for a long time, the court is likely to favor the financially-dependent spouse to help them move forward after the divorce.
These questions are not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. I merely want to make you aware that certain issues may exist.