What Are You Financially Entitled to in a Divorce?
By Ciele Edwards
Depending on the complexity of your divorce, the process can prove both time consuming and expensive. Recouping financial benefits in the form of money and property helps soften the financial blow of divorce itself. When you end your marriage, both you and your former spouse are entitled to a portion of the assets the two of you acquired during your marriage. Your financial reward will vary depending on your state's laws and the degree of financial security you enjoyed prior to the divorce.
You are generally permitted to keep any assets you acquired before the marriage took place. These assets are classified as “separate” property. In certain situations, your spouse may have her own claim to separate property. For example, if the asset increased in value during the marriage or you added to the asset's value using funds you acquired during the marriage, your spouse may claim a portion of the difference between the asset's original value and its current value.
If you earned significantly less than your spouse over the course of your marriage, you may be entitled to receive spousal support after your divorce. Spousal support payments help you maintain a reasonable standard of living while you restructure your financial situation. Your current income, your debt load and whether or not you are supporting children all affect whether or not you qualify for spousal support and, if so, how much.
If you have children with your former spouse and you receive custody of the children in the divorce settlement, you are also entitled to child support payments. Each state's child support guidelines vary, but child support amounts are generally based on the number of children you have and your former spouse's income.
A prenuptial agreement is a contract governing the assets each spouse is entitled to should the marriage fail. If you and your spouse signed a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married, the money and assets you are entitled to when you divorce may differ from the amount you would get if the court were responsible for distributing the marital estate.
Prenuptial agreements are not set in stone. In certain circumstances, you can question the legal validity of a prenuptial agreement and request that the court declare the contract invalid. Successfully overturning a prenuptial agreement can increase the amount you receive upon your divorce. You must have grounds for contesting the agreement's validity, such as you lacked proper representation or misunderstood the terms of the contract.
- Bedrock Divorce Advisors LLC: Do You Live in a Community Property State or an Equitable Distribution State?
- LexisNexis: Chapter 11 – Marital Property
- Pitts & Burns Attorneys at Law: Divorce FAQs
- County of Contra Costa Virtual Self-Help Law Center: Spousal or Partner Support – What Is It?
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Child Support Guidelines
- Shapiro Law Group: Prenuptial Agreements in Georgia
Ciele Edwards holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been a consumer advocate and credit specialist for more than 10 years. She currently works in the real-estate industry as a consumer credit and debt specialist. Edwards has experience working with collections, liens, judgments, bankruptcies, loans and credit law.