Believe it or not, marriage and divorce have a lot in common. While anticipating either, we tend to view them as panaceas. But in both cases, they rarely (if ever) are, and you’ll survive either one much better if you enter with realistic expectations. With that in mind, here’s what you can and cannot expect a divorce to do.
For some couples beginning a divorce process, the first step is requesting a temporary hearing to obtain a temporary order. That order sets the ground rules for who does—and gets—what until the divorce is complete.
The temporary order can establish:
- Legal custody of children
- Physical placement with parents
- Maintenance (sometimes called alimony) arrangements
- Child support
- Which party pays which debts
- Who continues to reside in the family home
- What happens to health care insurance
Temporary orders can also result in a requirement to attend counseling for anger management, substance abuse and other issues. And many counties, including La Crosse, require couples with children to attend counseling focused on the younger family members’ well-being.
As the name implies, the order stands just until the divorce is finalized and you have a final judgment.
The final judgment in divorce can:
- Rule on division of real estate, personal property and other assets.
- Allocate debts and liabilities to the parties.
- Dictate legal custody and physical placement of children.
- Determine child support and maintenance, along with which party may claim the children as dependents on income tax returns.
- Require continuing counseling.
- Require one of the partners to maintain health insurance for minor children.
- Change your legal surname so you won’t have to petition the court separately.
It’s always best when couples can make these decisions for themselves. Not only will they save time and money during the divorce, they will also help you avoid a situation where the court comes in and decides for you.
Just because the divorce is final, dealing with your ex and finalizing some other arrangements isn’t necessarily over. And that’s where some couples struggle most. Divorce cannot:
- Revoke a will naming your spouse as beneficiary, so be sure to update your will if you want it changed.
- Automatically change beneficiaries on accounts. You’ll need to change those designations (retirement accounts, insurance policies and the like) with the companies that hold those accounts.
- Stop a creditor from going after either party to repay marital debt. Even if the divorce decree says one specific spouse is responsible for it, the creditor can seek repayment from both.
- Guarantee a civil relationship. It’s important to understand that the relationship often worsens after divorce. You just won’t necessarily have to deal with each other every day.
- Ensure standard of living will remain the same. With two separate households to maintain, couples often find themselves struggling more financially after divorce than they did when they were together.
If you’re wondering more specifically what you can and cannot expect in your situation, an experienced family law attorney can help.
By Tony Gingrasso, La Crosse Divorce Lawyer in La Crosse WI. If you need a divorce attorney in La Crosse, call Tony at 608-784-5678.