As the titles give away, this blog addresses and expands on these intricate and generally hard battled-over elements of a divorce and separation action:
DC Alimony: Upon issuance of a divorce decree or order of legal separation, the court when “just and proper” may enter an order for payment of alimony as well. The order may be indefinite or for a certain designated period dictated by the relevant facts and circumstances. In short, the court will determine the amount and the duration of payment of alimony. The order may be nunc pro tunc to the date of filing of the action.
The court will consider all the “relevant factors necessary for a fair and equitable award” including but not limited to items listed below:
1) Financial abilities of the party seeking alimony and whether the party can be self supportive wholly or partially; 2) How long would the party seeking alimony would need to become self sufficient through further education or training; 3) The standard of living parties are accustomed to; 4) Duration of marriage; 5) Causes to and circumstances leading to separation; 6) Age and physical and mental health of the parties; 7) The ability of the paying party to meet and maintain his or her other needs; 8) Financial needs/resources of parties considering: A) Direct income and imputed income to the non wage earning party; B) Income from marital and non-marital assets; C) Financial obligation of each party; D) Child support awards; E) Retirement benefits and taxability/non-taxability of income
DC Maintenance of spouse and minor children/enforcement: In an event that a spouse or a domestic partner fails or refuses to support his or her needy spouse or children during the marriage and after dissolution thereof; the court may upon showing of such evidence, issue an order requiring payment of reasonable sums either pendente lite or permanently. The court may also order such spouse or partner to pay legal fees of the needy partner to litigate the case.
DC Residence requirements/jurisdiction: A divorce action or a legal separation in DC would require that at least one of the parties to the action has been “a bona fide resident of the District of Columbia for at least six months next preceding the commencement of the action.”
Clearly, the law requires a fair and equitable analysis of the parties’ respective financial abilities and close scrutiny thereof, however, in reality, parties in a contested divorce action may not be forth coming — readily disclosing assets subject to court’s review. Thus it is critical for those who seek that eventual divorce and separation to have an insight and a detailed understanding of each other financial means and whereabouts. It is not romantic but what romance has to do with it.
A Divorce action is further complicated by child support and child custody components. Thus it is advisable and economical to handle alimony, division of property as well as child support and custody contemporaneously and if at all possible amicably through a mutually consented and agreed upon global separation agreement. Especially if children and their custody is in the balance — it is best long term and yet again short term to curtail and not to prolong the litigation – if at all possible.
Divorce is no picnic folks.