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Dissolution of Marriage Considerations
The dissolution of marriage (also known as divorce) represents the legal termination of the contractual bond of matrimony between two parties by a court of law in their respective state of residency. Here in the United States, divorce laws vary greatly from state to state but overall, the considerations for the dissolution of marriage are relatively the same.
The first consideration for the dissolution of marriage is that of the decision itself.
The dissolution of marriage represents a major life-changing event and sometimes, the individuals I work with fail to realize that and expect their lives to be exactly the same as they were while married. Sometimes the pain of their current situation is so great that they can see no way forward other than divorce and so they choose what seems to be the path of least resistance. In cases such as these I recommend clients work with a divorce coach who can not only help them understand and prepare for what their life after divorce will be but also examine the reasons why they are considering the dissolution of marriage in the first place. Knowing the reason(s) may make one feel better about their decision and ensure it was well thought out and not simply a reaction to a recent argument or temporary relationship stressor such as loss of employment.
The second consideration for the dissolution of marriage is that of the process.
When it comes to divorce, you have two main choices of how you proceed. You can either hire an attorney to represent you which in most case you lose control of the decision making process as your attorney will be negotiating on your behalf or you can work with a divorce mediator to help facilitate direct negotiations between you and your spouse in order to resolve all of the issues surrounding your divorce. As a divorce mediator myself, naturally I encourage couples to pursue the more peaceful and cost-effective path of mediation but mediation is not appropriate in all cases. I view my role as helping you each get the best result in your particular situation and sometimes, mediation is not the answer, especially in high conflict cases or in those in which there is a power imbalance or domestic violence. The good news is about 98% of the couples I encounter are mediation friendly so when considering the dissolution of marriage, think about your particular situation and consider which process would work in your particular case.
The third consideration for the dissolution of marriage is the areas of negotiation.
Once you've made the decision to divorce and have selected the process by which you will pursue the dissolution of marriage, you will now need to negotiate a settlement in four main areas:
Depending on which path you chose to pursue your divorce, either your attorneys will represent you in each of these four main areas or your mediator will help you negotiate directly to reach agreement in each of these four areas. Either way, your resulting settlement will be identical regardless of if you used a lawyer or mediator so if at all possible, choose mediation when considering the dissolution of marriage.
In New Jersey, a separation agreement is any legal document signed by both spouses outlining the terms of the separation. Subjects resolved in a separation agreement can include child support, child custody, debt allocation and asset distribution. Notarizing the document ensures its validity, since there is no such case-type in New Jersey that provides for a "legal separation." Spouses wanting child support during the separation period, however, must file a claim with the New Jersey probation department.
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Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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