During a divorce, every item – whether tangible or not – will need to be determined as to who will gain ownership in the settlement. Some items are easier to determine than others, and the three most common areas are assets, expenses, and children.
Everything you own together will need to be split up between you. This includes your house, cars, pets, bank accounts, retirement funds, etc. – the list goes on and on. Most of the items that you have acquired during your marriage together are considered community property. You will need to decide who gets what, and how much of each cash or cash valued property each of you will retain. The home can often go to one person with the other receiving a monetary settlement in exchange; or when children are involved, sometimes the judge will simply award the home to the person with primary custody.
Just as you divided your assets, you will also need to divide your liabilities. Credit card debt, loans, medical bills – these are just examples of debt that will need to be divided between both of you, ensuring that one person is not left with all of the debt. Student loans that have been combined will need to be evaluated to decide how much of that debt will now be assigned to each party. The courts can decree who pays what when it comes to your debt, but if one spouse loses their job or becomes unable to pay for their share of the debt, the debtor will often come after the other spouse, simply because they were married at the time of the debt being incurred.
Determining the terms of custody of children is often the most difficult and bitterly fought part of divorce. If both parents want custody, joint custody will be awarded, unless one parent can prove that the other is unfit. Then there are the expenses that pertain to raising children. One parent may have to pay the other child support. Then there is the question of braces, college, and any expenses that come outside the normal “food, clothes, and shelter” that is covered under the spousal agreement for child support. How will these extraneous expenses be handled?
It is important to note that some of these decisions will be determined by the state in which you live. It is a good idea to talk with an attorney to see what the laws are in your state and how they affect whatever settlement you might think you are entitled to in the proceedings.