Ending a relationship is always challenging, but if you are a married couple, you also need to consider the legal implications of your situation before and during the divorce. The choices you make during the marriage and after the divorce can have a big impact on alimony, child support and how the divorce proceeds.
If you want to divorce in Delaware, there are a few things you should know:
1. You can choose fault or no-fault grounds. Delaware allows for both, but choose wisely. You can file for a divorce due to mental illness, adultery, incompatibility or other grounds. Fault does not give one spouse the advantage when it comes to the division of marital assets.
2. You must be separated for six months before filing for divorce. Even more importantly, the decisions you make during the separation and before can have an impact on your divorce. If you have a relationship during the separation or before it, you could be accused of adultery — even if your marriage was irrevocably over and you both agreed to date other people. In a similar vein, if you live separately from your spouse during your separation, you could end up paying them reimbursements, since you are essentially creating two households, complete with the costs of two households, while you are still legally married. When considering separation, you will want to speak to a divorce attorney in Delaware to ensure you understand state rules so you can protect yourself adequately.
3. Once the divorce decree is issued, one spouse will have to submit property division requests and financial reports within 30 days. After that, the other spouse has 30 days to respond. Thirty days may seem like a lot of time, but since there is usually some emotional upset and the upheaval of separating, it may be difficult to find everything you need. For this reason, it is important to gather financial documentation and consult with an attorney before you file. One thing you should not do during a divorce is cause a delay. You don’t want to miss a deadline.
4. How long you were married may not reflect the longevity of the estate. If you were together for a long time before marriage, your marital assets may include assets you had before the marriage. This is especially applicable for couples who cohabited for years before marriage and same-sex spouses who were together for a long time before being legally allowed to wed. If you have a long history with your spouse before marriage, consult a divorce attorney for help.
5. You need to be a resident of Delaware for at least six months before filing for divorce in the state. Only one of you needs to meet the residency requirement, but if you have recently moved, keep in mind that you may have to file in another state or wait longer to file.
6. You have other options for divorce. Mediation is a popular choice for divorcing couples and you can also get forms and templates at a law library or courthouse for a do-it-yourself divorce. However, this is not always the best option. If your spouse is getting legal advice or the divorce becomes contentious, working with a divorce lawyer in Delaware can ensure your rights are protected.
Are There Rules During a Divorce?
Even if you and your spouse agree your marriage is over, divorce can be a difficult process and things can change quickly. Emotions can come into play, and even if you initially agree on how to divide assets, one spouse may decide that he or she deserves or wants a different division of property. Questions surrounding child custody can also become quite heated.
Divorce consequences can last a lifetime — especially when it comes to asset division, child custody and alimony. For this reason, it is important to work with an experienced and strong divorce attorney. An attorney can help you understand how to get a divorce and how to avoid some of the common mistakes couples make.
If you’d like to speak to an attorney because you are considering an end to your marriage, contact Doroshow, Pasquale, Krawitz, and Bhaya for a consultation.