FAQs from divorce consultations

Published December 28, 2018

I have met with hundreds to thousands of people to discuss their divorce circumstances in the over twenty years that I have been in practice.  During these meetings, there are questions that are commonly asked.  I have included three common questions and my answers to the same below.

Question #1:

Is there an advantage if I file for divorce first?

Courts are impartial and unbiased.  A judge doesn’t look at a party in a divorce action differently because he or she is the petitioner or respondent.

As a practical matter, if one spouse has been planning to file for divorce and actually does, the other spouse may have some catching up to do especially if the divorce is a surprise to them.

Question #2:

If I haven’t worked in years, should I look for a job now or will it hurt my chances for spousal support or alimony?

I am a proponent for having a plan. When you are going through a divorce, you need a plan for how you will transition to living on your own. The plan may involve requesting or receiving support from your soon-to-be former spouse. Even with a plan, the answer to Question #2 depends on a variety of factors as well as the law governing alimony or spousal support in the state where the divorce will occur. Some of these factors may include: the age of the person requesting support; the education and work history of the person requesting support; the length of the marriage; the income disparity between the two spouses; and the monthly household expenses of each spouse. The laws governing spousal support or alimony differ among states so the best answer is to get advice from an attorney licensed in the state where you are divorcing.

Question #3:

Will I risk custody of my kids or being awarded the home I share with my spouse if I move out before my divorce is final?

Again, answers to these questions depend on many factors. If you move out to escape from an abusive situation and leave your children in the home with the alleged abuser, possibly yes. If you move out of your home to create more peace but still have an active, if not, daily role with your children, possibly no. If you move out of your home but ultimately want to be awarded the home, hopefully you’ll be able to reach a settlement agreement that’s favorable to you.  If not, a judge may be persuaded to award the home to your spouse since you left but again there are many factors to consider like which party is able to afford the expenses associated with the house?  Are there other assets or property to award to the spouse who will not receive the house?  With whom do the kids live with primarily and should the house go that party? Like I noted, there are many factors that could influence the judge or decision-maker in your case.

What I have shared above is only a small sample of the questions that come up in divorce consultations. Please consider the information as general information and not legal advice specific to your situation.  If you need legal advice, consult with an attorney licensed in your state.