Calculating how much you are entitled to in a divorce is a difficult matter. There are multiple financial issues that need to be decided, and dozens of questions both sides need to answer before they can get close to determining the division of assets, any spousal support payments, any child support payments, and any other assorted costs or payments either side will make during the divorce. The Philadelphia divorce attorneys at the Sadek and Cooper Law Offices are here to explain some of the issues that go into calculating these payments and divisions. If you need help with a divorce in Philadelphia, The Northeast, Delaware County, Bucks County, or other places in the Greater Philly Area, contact our family law offices today for a free consultation.
How to Determine Amounts in a Divorce Settlement
Divorces have many aspects that can be decided one of two ways. In the first way, each party presents their issues to the judge or an appointed “master” (an attorney a judge appoints to make decisions on their behalf). The judge or master uses the divorce code to calculate what each side is fairly entitled to. The second way is for both parties to sit down with their attorneys, go over the issues, and agree amongst themselves how much they are entitled to.
The first option is often the only choice when the parties cannot come to an agreement, when the divorce is based on serious issues like abuse, or when the parties are in such disagreement that they cannot work together. This option often gives the parties less control, but may be preferable to a party who has clear advantages the court might accept.
The second option is what is typically called a divorce “settlement.” Rather than relying upon the court’s determination, the parties can settle the issues on their own. These settlements may cover various areas, but the court may still have final say over some issues (such as whether or not to actually grant the divorce).
Divorce settlements include agreements for the following areas:
- Equitable division of assets – I.e. who gets what in the divorce;
- Alimony – Parties may agree on the length and amount of alimony paid after divorce;
- Child support – Parties can often agree on how much one parent pays the other to support their shared children, but courts may prefer to decide this on their own;
- Child custody;
- What to do with retirement accounts and life insurance;
- What to do with wills and inheritances; and
- Who gets the marital home.
There are other areas of financial concern that you can agree on during the divorce.
Ultimately, the parties may use the law as a guideline in calculating who gets what, and how spousal support is paid. If either party were to refuse to negotiate and take the case to court, the law’s guidelines would govern the outcome. Therefore, most lawyers stick closely to the law’s calculations from the outset. Unfortunately, these laws mainly deal in factors of fairness and equity, not in actual calculations. Outside of child support, the law does not closely dictate numbers or payment amounts, so it is up to the parties to make claims of how much they need or want, then negotiate with the other side.
Who Gets What in a Divorce Settlement?
One of the great things about settlements in a divorce case, is that the parties can decide for themselves who gets what. Rather than relying upon the court to divide their assets or decide alimony payments, the parties can make requests, give concessions, and negotiate to get what they want. A skilled divorce attorney understands your needs and goals in a divorce, and works to express those goals clearly and concisely, and get you a divorce settlement that achieves those goals.
In deciding the division of assets, the law’s guidelines state that things should be divided “equitably.” This is generally taken to mean “fairly,” rather than “equally.” Because of this, there is no presumption of a 50/50 split, but rather each party is entitled to their “fair share.” This may often mean each party gets half, but if one party brought substantial assets to the marriage, they may be entitled to keep many of those as “individual property.”
With alimony, the decision of how long to make payments for and how much to pay can be wholly agreed-upon by the parties. Taking the decision to a judge means looking at a long list of factors based on the recipient’s needs and ability to support themselves. When agreeing between parties, you can decide whatever amounts you want. This may even become a bargaining chip or concession to increase or decrease your split of assets in exchange for an increased or decreased alimony payment.
Philadelphia Divorce Settlement Lawyers
The Pennsylvania family law attorneys at The Sadek and Cooper Law Offices may be able to help with your divorce case, and negotiate with your spouse and their attorneys to get you the divorce settlement you desire. For a free consultation on your divorce case, call 215-652-0851 today.