The client wants to know what’s going to happen now. The first step is either to reach out to the opposing counsel or the opposing party if they’re not represented and let them know that the client is retained me and wishes to work things out, which will begin to engage the other side in the process. Then we can move to direct settlement negotiations, mediation or collaborative law, which is a voluntary team based approach, in which a couple chooses to divorce without contested litigation to best meet the respective individual needs and the needs of any minor children.
There are cases where you go straight to litigation for various reasons, one being that you need immediate relief from the court and it’s unlikely that you will get the request of relief by going directly to the opposing party. One example might be if someone needs financial support right away due to their spouse completely cutting them off from access to any financial resources. There are also non financial reasons, such as seeking a protective order due to violence in the home or seeking an emergency custody order.
Another common question is if the other party is the one needing the marriage, what does that mean for financial support? The judge is going to consider 13 factors when determining spousal support. There are certain instances when a spouse may be barred from receiving spousal support, generally support is based on respective obligations, needs, and financial resources of the parties. However since every case is different, it’s very important that you speak to an attorney about spousal support if it is an issue in your case.
Another common question, is if an asset is in my full name or my spouse’s full name, does it still get divided? Regardless of how an asset might be titled, if it was funded with money that either spouse earned during the marriage, unless there’s a prenuptial agreement that provides otherwise, the asset is likely marital and subject to equitable distribution. This would apply to a bank account, retirement benefits, real estate or any other asset obtained during the marriage. If an asset was obtained by a gift from a third party, inheritance or a result of a separate asset, for example something that you owned prior to the marriage to which you have not contributed any marital efforts, then it would likely be considered to be separate property, not subject to division by the court.
Dianne Nolin is a CFP with over 25 years of experience, and Sarah Schuler is an experienced practitioner of many aspects of family law in the Northern Virginia area.