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Divorce is one of the most traumatic experiences in a person's life.  Unfortunately, nearly one half of the marriages in the United States end in divorce.  Since divorce is the end of a marriage, the following are products of the divorce process and should be handled by a divorce attorney or family lawyer: division of property, child custody, child visitation and establishment of child support and alimony.

One alternative to divorce is annulment.  The laws on annulment vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so you should consult with a qualified divorce attorney or family lawyer in your state to determine if you may be qualified for an annulment.

Contested or Uncontested
A divorce case usually falls into one of two categories: contested or uncontested.  There are actually two types of contested divorces.  The first type is where one party contests (or disagrees with) the other party's right to have a divorce.  In states with a "no fault" divorce policy, no reason is necessary for a divorce, so this type of contested divorce doesn't happen.  The other type of contested divorce is where the parties are contesting the settlement of each of the issues in the divorce; such as: child custody, visitation, division of property, alimony or child support. In contrast, an uncontested divorce is one where the parties agree to the terms of the termination of the marriage, and they are basically asking a court to bless their agreement. Regardless of the situation, it is important to speak with a divorce attorney or family lawyer about your case.
Division of Property
After child related issues like custody, visitation and child support, the division of property is usually the next most contentious subject in a divorce. This is where a divorce attorney or family lawyer comes into use. Most states fall into one of two categories related to the division of marital property: community property law states and equitable distribution law states.  
Community property laws are based on the premise that any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage (marital property) should be divided equally, regardless of financial need, ability to earn, or which party is to blame for the end of the marriage.  On the other hand, equitable distribution law states are more common and take into count other factors; such as: the length of the marriage, the income or property brought to the marriage of each party, and many more factors in coming to fair (equitable) division of property.  Retirement accounts are often not counted as marital property and special rules usually govern their division.
Remember, marital property includes both assets (houses, cars, and money in bank accounts) and debts.  Debts are sometimes overlooked but are just as important.  In most states, the law gives the courts the right to divide the parties' joint debts among them, regardless of whose name is on the debts and regardless of which party is at fault in the divorce. The parties may, in many instances with the help of a divorce attorney, enter into an agreement providing for the responsibility of their debts.

However, if the parties cannot agree, the court will divide the debts and property on an equitable basis.  It is important to remember that equitably does not necessarily mean equally.  The court will divide assets and debts based on factors; such as: the parties' incomes, education, custody obligations, future earning potential, and the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage.  If the debts are in both parties' names, even the party that isn't obligated by the court to pay the debt is still liable to the creditor if the other party fails to make payment.  This party's recourse is to bring a contempt action before the same court that issued the order seeking reimbursement of any amounts you had to pay, plus your attorney fees for enforcing the original order. To make sure you get what you deserve, contact a family lawyer or divorce attorney.

Asset Protection
You can protect your assets in case of divorce both before you actually marry (pre-nuptial) and after you marry (post-nuptial).

A prenuptial agreement is a contract between the engaged parties that in event of a divorce would provide for the terms for the distribution of property, alimony (if any) and other monetary issues.  Prenuptial agreements almost never control issues like child custody, visitation, or child support. This is normally handled in court with the help of a divorce attorney or family lawyer.

If prenuptial agreements are entered into voluntarily (yes, a take it or leave it offer is fair) and not unfairly one-sided and financial information is fully disclosed, most states will generally uphold prenuptial agreements.  It is also important that both parties have separate legal representation from a divorce attorney or family lawyer when being advised on the prenuptial agreement, as one spouse may be able to get out of it by citing arguments like a conflict interest or coercion by the shared divorce attorney.

Post-marital asset protection works a little different and depends on your role in the marriage.  To prepare for post-marital asset protection, you should gather evidence of all of your spouse's property, your property and your joint property for your divorce lawyer or family lawyer. In other words, you should make copies of all financial records that you are aware of, including tax returns, brokerage and bank account statements, insurance policies, your spouse's business records, and all other property records so that you can best support your claim to the property with the help of a divorce attorney.  It is important that you not hide assets or transfer property to avoid your spouse's claims. This can lead to not only the loss of protection for that property but also some serious legal trouble.

Obviously, asset protection and debt division during divorce can get quite complicated. If you have questions about protecting your assets during divorce, speak to an experienced divorce attorney or family lawyer in your area as soon as possible.


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