Alimony awards, also called “spousal support,” are usually granted at the court’s discretion upon a determination, which takes into account certain factors, that spousal maintenance is necessary. Some of the factors considered when determining alimony payments include the education of the spouses, their respective work experiences, income histories, ages, health, the length of the marriage, and the time either spouse has spent out of the work force. Alimony may be either temporary (often called “rehabilitative alimony”) or permanent. The court grants rehabilitative spousal support when one spouse has been disadvantaged in order to equalize the burden of the divorce.
One important factor in property division in divorce is the date of valuation of the spouses’ assets and liabilities for purposes of dividing marital property. The courts must consider the date of valuation in order to establish a consistent basis for determining a fair distribution of marital property. Fixing values for different assets and liabilities at different times can affect the true value of assets and liabilities that a spouse receives.
In divorce, financial discovery concentrates on the economic aspects of the marriage and the spouses’ financial circumstances. Detailed financial discovery allows both spouses to obtain the information needed to present a complete and accurate representation of the family’s assets and liabilities. With that information, the divorce court can fashion a fair marital property division and an appropriate support order.
A divorce decree can facilitate an enforcement order, establish rights for both the parties, award custody and enable visitation rights, grant alimony, and distribute property between the parties. Considering the nature of divorce cases and the work involved in obtaining divorce, legal fees often differ from case to case. The fees can differ from city to city, state to state, and law firm to law firm. Preliminary meetings with counsel usually do not involve laborious effort, and usually amount to sorting the factual details. Courts take consideration of the parties’ ability to pay counsel fees before awarding fees. Despite the diversity in statutes, courts apply general principles and carefully analyze the parties’ financial status before awarding costs.
In divorce cases, courts usually must divide the parties’ marital property between them. Marital property usually includes both marital assets and marital debts, and generally consists of all property acquired by both or either of the spouses during the marriage, other than property acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party. State divorce laws handle marital property differently depending on whether the state follows equitable distribution, straight community property, “all property,” or dual property rules.