5 Steps to Divorcing your Husband

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Getting a divorce is a huge decision. But most people know deep in their heart when the time is right, when you have irreconcilable differences, when there has been too many grievances to repair trust or when you just can’t be happy together or get along anymore. Most people are solid on the emotional issues and how to move forward in that sense. But when it comes to the legal sense they are often clueless. Many don’t look into the process at all. They are vulnerable to shady operators. What you are looking for in the legal sense is a Petition for Dissolution.  Once a judgment is entered then the divorce is final, but not before. Without that document you aren’t legally divorced. Some not-so-honest lawyers let cases go on and on for years without getting a judgment handed down. So it’s best to know, be informed about the process so that it can move forward as smoothly as possible without wasting time, money and adding more emotional distress than there needs to be. Here are 5 steps to divorcing your husband. The first step, file a petition of dissolution. In the 1970’s no-fault divorce laws came to fruition in many states across the country. Find out what the particular situation is in your state. In no-fault states, either party can file a petition of dissolution for any reason. In states where one spouse has to be at fault, reasons such as infidelity, domestic abuse and others may need to be stated. Most states however are no-fault states. But you definitely need to check. A quick Google search should tell you.

There is generally a charge to file this petition. The document will be served to your soon-to-be ex-spouse to notify them of your wish to be divorced from them. It’s a good idea to let your husband know that you’ve filed for a divorce previous to receiving the papers, or else it could be a big shock, make them fly into a rage,  or result in some other negative emotional response. After the one person is served with papers, they have 30 days in order to compose and send in a response. If they fail to file, the petitioner or the person who filed for divorce can ask for a default of judgment. The filer should then receive all of the things they asked for in the original petition. There may be exceptions. Make sure you select a divorce lawyer carefully and discuss this with him or her should your husband fail to respond. Now an automatic temporary restraining order (ATRO) will be put into place to prevent one spouse or the other from absconding with the children, selling or cleaning out the couple’s assets and so on as an act of revenge. You are not allowed to take your children out of state at this time. You can’t benefit from any insurance claims at this time. No concealing or transferring property or other assets. Now you’ve completed the first step and are in divorce proceedings. It won’t end until you get a judgment from the court.

It usually takes around six months or so to get a judgment. That said, custody and the splitting of assets are the two main items to be negotiated and settled upon. Will there be spousal support? Who gets the house and how are the assets to be allocated? Now it’s time for our second step, to get a court date in order to work these issues out, called an “Order to Show Cause” or an OSC. This process is called “pendent lite,” which is Latin meaning, “while the case is pending”. Whatever arrangements met at this time are not permanent, though the longer they stay in place the more likely they will become permanent. You can negotiate with your ex-spouse at any time and reach an agreement during this phase. Both parties should file OSC in order to gain some peace and some space. Now if there has been any physical or emotional abuse you should take part in our third step, filing a domestic abuse restraining order.

Now the fourth step is called the disclosure of finances. Many times in a marriage one party knows much more about the finances than the other. Furthermore, many states assume that even if one spouse has stayed home and hasn’t worked, their contribution through domestic duties and perhaps caring for the children mean that they are entitled to their fair share of the assets. Even if they were total couch potatoes, how the law states it is clear. However, be sure to check on the particulars with your attorney as laws can vary from state to state. Hiding assets will not be looked on favorably by the judge. In fact, he or she may award even more than their fair share in recompense for the deceit. It’s best to disclose everything. Now, once the disclosures are done the settlement negotiation begins. That’s our fifth step. How much will support be? How will property and other assets be allocated? Who gets custody of the children? How will holidays be divvied up? If no settlement can be reached a court date will be required and set. Now you can ask for a stipulated judgment or a marital settlement agreement (MSA). The difference between the two is that one is a judgment handed down by the court; the MSA is an actual contract. If it is breached then you can sue for breach of contract. Finally, you will then receive a Notice of Entry of Judgment which gives you a legal date for when your divorce took place. Once that document is filed you are officially, legally divorced. For more on this, pick up a copy of Getting Divorced Without Ruining Your Life: A Reasoned, Practical Guide to the Legal, Emotional and Financial Ins and Outs of Negotiating a Divorce Settlement by Sam Margulies.

Strange Tales of Divorce

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According to the Times of Israel, one man from the south of that country is divorcing his wife for owning 550 cats. These cats drove him crazy; hundreds of them swarming all over the place. He couldn’t live comfortably in the house. He couldn’t get into the bathroom. They even stole his food right off his plate. Fed up, he filed for divorce. The Rabbinical court has tried to get the couple to reconcile. But the wife was so attached to her cats, a requirement the man imposed on reconciliation, that the two decided to go their separate ways. Though a weird story, it’s not alone. There are plenty of strange tales when it comes to divorce. Have you ever been asked to give back an heirloom, a keepsake, a gift, even a wedding or engagement ring? Though it may feel pretty low at the time it’s not as low as one surgeon from Long Island. He gave his wife a kidney. But when she filed for divorce, he stated that he wanted it back. It took guts to do that. But she’s not giving his kidney back. One mama’s boy in Italy was so attached to his mother, he actually brought her on the honeymoon. Three weeks later his wife served him with divorce papers. Guess he’s moving back in with his mother.

Ever have an ex get your goat? Who hasn’t? Well for Steve Killeen and his ex-wife this is literally true. Though they had a loving pooch, his wife saw photos of baby goats online and forced him to buy her one. When they divorced in 2009 he kept the goat, giving the old saying new life. One of the worst things about a divorce is moving. When you have a house, who gets it? One couple could not decide and both hunkered down, not giving an inch. Getting fed up with their case the judge thought up something special. He ordered them to share the house, and build a wall through it. Ever lie about your age? It’s just a little fib, most of the time that is unless you lie about your age to your spouse. One woman said she was 24 instead of 30. A decade later in 2007 the husband found out her true age, and initiated a divorce. Ever been grounded by a judge? One man’s spending was out of control and he failed to pay $14,000 in back child support. The judge had his cell phone, TV, internet, even his newspaper taken away in order to get his spending under control. A farmer and his wife split in 2008 but couldn’t decide who would keep the farm. She insisted on getting half of everything. So the farmer went out with his grinder and cut all the farm equipment in half. One man’s wife left him after his prosthetic penis extension broke during sex. Lastly, another couple divorced in 2008. The former husband Moeun Sarim made sure she would get her half, gathered up his friends and cut the house in half. She still lives in her part. If you’re going through a divorce and need financial advice, read Divorce & Money: How to Make the Best Financial Decisions During Divorce by Attorney Violet Woodhouse, CFP and Dale Fetherling.

3 Things are Often Overlooked When Evaluating a Business

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When the distribution of the value of a business comes into play during a divorce litigation, three things are often overlooked.  These things concern each person’s contribution to the business.  They are:  Financial contributions, human capital, and social networks.

  1. Financial contributions:  How much money did each party contribute to the actual purchase and running of the business?
  2. Human capital:  What personal value did each person contribute by way of skill or trade?  For instance, did one party manage the finances of the business while the other performed a specific skill in the field?
  3. Social networks:  What social contacts or networks did each party develop and maintain that contributed to the business?  Were there contacts made that invested in your business or provided you with more clientele?  If so, who was responsible for gaining those contacts?  It’s often overlooked, but contributing to this aspect of the business could be of greater importance than any personal finances given by either party.  The volume and strength of your social network is what really keeps your business afloat.

In your divorce, knowing the level of contribution made by you and your ex will be important in determining how the business should be divided between you.  If you feel that your ex didn’t contribute to the business, you need to support this claim with evidence and discuss this with your legal team and/or your accountant to gain a true financial picture.  Keep in mind that if your spouse did not contribute to your business in any of the aforementioned ways, he/she can still gain substantial assets from your business depending on the specifics of your marriage.  For instance, if your spouse stayed home with the children and this is their primary reasoning for not working or acquiring an education, it’s possible for your spouse to be awarded alimony based on maintaining the marital lifestyle post-divorce.  Speak with a divorce lawyer about all possible outcomes for your divorce.  If you can negotiate fairly outside of court, this is the easiest and most inexpensive route, but when a lucrative business is involved, prepare yourself for litigation.

The Court Will Look At The Financial Triangle Of Your Divorce

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Your financial triangle consists of:  equity, liquidity and debt. These three financial components are assessed in determining equitable distribution and alimony in your divorce proceedings.  All financial accumulation, debts, and assets or estate accrued during the marriage is taken into account.

Your equity consists of your assets that have been paid in full or the portion of your assets that is fully paid.  For instance, if you own a home worth $500,000.00, and you have half of it paid for, then your equity on that home is $250,000.00.

Your liquidity is the amount of cash you have in savings accounts, checking accounts, your 401K, IRA, stocks, bonds, and any other accumulated wealth in your ownership or that of your ex.

Debts consist of any debts accumulated by you and or your ex during the marriage from a mortgage, student loans, car loans, and so forth.  Unfortunately, what you may have believed to be the debt of your ex could be shared debt.  This will be discovered as the divorce progresses.

It’s from this financial triangle that the division of finances from the marriage will be devised and calculated for equitable distribution.  Who gets what and when depends on a variety of factors such as which party has more financial need, which party has primary custody of any children involved, who has the higher income, who has the higher earning potential, among other factors.  Try to have a good understanding of each aspect of your financial triangle so that you gain a clearer picture of where your divorce is headed in terms of your financial outlook post-divorce.

Equitable Distribution Of A Business Will Likely Be Based On Fair Market Value

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When discussion of equitable distribution includes a business from the marriage, the value of that business is decided based on what is called fair market value.  The fair market value of a property is the estimated value of the property itself if it were to be put up for sale.  The value of the property may be different depending on how the business is conducted and therefore it cannot be assumed that the business would be worth the revenue it is currently taking in or its past revenue.

For instance, if you run a private business and your spouse asks for a divorce, the fair market value of the business will be the hypothetical selling value of it, not the current revenue from the running of the business.  Your combined incomes from the marriage will still be up for equitable distribution, but the value of the business will be separate from the income you receive from it.  If someone were to purchase the business from you, that person would not necessarily conduct business in the same manner as you did, so the value of the business cannot be based on your personal revenue.

This is more important to keep in mind if it’s your spouse that owns the business and you’re the one seeking partial benefit or value from it.  Don’t assume that you will gain a large amount of his or her revenue from the business.  Speak with your attorney about fair market value and discuss your potential gains and losses from the divorce.  It’s common for the lesser earning spouse to receive a lot less from a divorce than he/she had anticipated prior to filing for the separation.  It’s important to do your research and speak with divorce and financial experts.