Is Divorce Easier If You Don’t Have Children?
What Problems Arise When You Divorce Without Children?
Child custody and child support are often two of the leading causes of disputes during a divorce. However, that doesn’t mean that the whole process will be a breeze if you’re childless. There are still many other issues that can arise.
Dividing Assets Fairly
Of course, the biggest disagreements in a childless divorce tend to be financial in nature. Whether you’ve been together for decades or just for months, you probably have some property you’ve acquired together. Figuring out who gets which asset can be tricky. You and your estranged spouse will have to figure out how to split up a variety of items, including:
- Household goods
- Joint savings accounts
- Real estate
- Valuable collectibles
New Jersey divorce law considers just about everything you acquired after the marriage to be marital property, with a few exceptions such as gifts and inheritances. In a divorce, you are required to split up this property in a fair and equal way. It does not necessarily need to be precisely in half. However, it needs to be divided up in a way that doesn’t leave one partner destitute or deny one partner’s contributions to the marriage.
There are a few ways to go about handling property division. Some couples may just want to liquidate all assets and divide the resulting funds in half. Others might want to trade items based on sentimental and financial value. For example, one person could get the brand-new couch while the other gets the collection of antique china. Since there’s no hard and fast rule, you can end up with a lot of arguments. If you cannot hash everything out through negotiations, collaboration, or mediation, you’ll have to go to court and let a judge decide for you.
Determining Which Assets Are Separate Property
Another issue to take into account is the classification of property. Typically, anything that a person owns before marriage will remain their private property that does not need to be split up during a divorce. This might seem simple, but it can actually be quite hard to determine what counts as separate property. There are many reasons that you and your ex might not agree on whether or not a specific item is separate property or marital property.
- One person owned the home before the marriage, but the other a lot of money into upgrading the home.
- The car title is in one person’s name, but another person made the payments.
- One person inherited a lump sum of money but then put it into a joint bank account.
- An investment fund was in one person’s name, but the other spouse started contributing funds to it.
- One spouse began using a joint bank account to make contributions to their private retirement account.
Depending on the situation, you may have several methods for resolving these sorts of disagreements. In some cases, it’s easiest to be flexible. For example, your divorce lawyer could negotiate an agreement where you retain your home but compensate your ex for the money they put into upgrading the house. You might also be able to get complete ownership of one asset in exchange for letting your ex have another one of comparable value.
However, there can be many situations where an agreement isn’t possible. In these situations, you will need to discuss the situation in court. A judge will hear your divorce attorney present your argument and then will determine who gets control of the property.
Deciding Whether Alimony Is Necessary
Often called spousal support, alimony is a payment that’s meant to help a non-working spouse care for themselves. New Jersey law recognizes several types – temporary (pendente lite), limited duration, rehabilitative, reimbursement, or permanent, which is very rare. Despite common fears about alimony being a major expense in all divorces, the reality is that it usually only comes into play during specific situations. There are typically only a few reasons that alimony is required:
- One spouse has been sick for a long time
- One spouse quit working to support the other
- A spouse will be unable to get a job after the divorce because of limited education or experience
- One spouse is not getting many assets following the divorce
- The marriage had a standard of living one spouse might not be able to achieve on their own
Alimony is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, so there is a lot of room for disagreement. It is fairly common for one spouse to think that alimony is called for while the other feels that it is unnecessary. Furthermore, people may disagree about how much alimony is necessary. You can expect to spend some time negotiating the exact amount of alimony you pay and discussing whether it is paid periodically or in a lump sum. Typically, alimony is not permanent. It only continues until one spouse has enough time to get an education or find other means to support themselves.
Often, arguments about alimony come from an emotional place. The person requesting alimony often feels that they put years of effort into supporting their spouse, so they now deserve to get some of the profit their spouse receives after years of support. Meanwhile, the person who wants to deny alimony may feel like they are ready to move on from the marriage and do not want to be financially responsible for the other person. Therefore, if you are in a situation where alimony might be a possibility, you need to prepare for some intense discussions.
Splitting Up Debts and Future Costs
Not all childless divorce disputes are related to receiving funds. Sometimes, the arguments may be about who has to pay for certain costs. It is fairly common for couples to end up acquiring debts during their marriage. Once they divorce, there may be disagreements about who is left to handle the debts. Both you and your spouse will be responsible for debts incurred during the marriage, so you’ll need to decide if you want to split the debt or have one party take on responsibility.
Standard debts like credit card bills, mortgages, and car payments are very common, but don’t forget about the smaller debts. If you want to avoid confusion and future disagreements, you also need to clearly state what will happen with debts such as:
- Utility bills while getting your house ready to sell
- Miscellaneous fees like rental car payments or late rent surcharges
- Business debt incurred by a jointly owned company
- Parking tickets or other legal fines
- Contracts for gym memberships or other subscriptions
Another type of expense that you’ll need to consider is taxes. Though it’s not technically necessary to discuss taxes in your divorce agreement, it is a good idea to talk about them. For example, if you’re cashing out a retirement account while dividing funds, you’ll want to discuss who pays the tax penalty associated with early withdrawal. In some cases, it might be wise to consult with an accountant and find mutually beneficial strategies for dealing with tax and debt.
As you can see, there are still plenty of reasons to get help from a divorce attorney when you’re divorcing without children. The right attorney can help your divorce go as smoothly as possible. At the Law Offices of Kelly Berton Rocco, we are dedicated to ensuring that our clients obtain knowledgeable representation. Whether you have children or not, our team can work with you to sort out disagreements and file all necessary legal documentation. To learn more about our New Jersey divorce services, call us at 201-343-0078 or fill out and submit our contact form now.