What are the Issues Involved in a Separation and Divorce?
WHAT ARE THE
IN A SEPARATION
Terence Daniel Doyle, Esq.
The Specific Issues that Must Be Decided
in Each Individual Divorce are Going to
Vary Somewhat Depending Upon the Couple
What are the Issues Involved in a Separation and Divorce? Doyle Quane Family Law Group 2
A standard formula is used to determine the support to which a child is
entitled after a divorce. The formula considers the income of each parent,
the number of children and the special needs of the child(ren).
Marriage joins two individuals together in the eyes of the law. The couple has shared
legal obligations and each spouse has a shared right to marital property and assets
acquired during the course of the marriage. If the two spouses subsequently decide
they no longer wish to be married, then they must go through the process of
dissolving the marriage. This process is like the dissolution of any other legal and
financial partnership, except with much more emotion and often much more at stake.
Shared assets must be distributed and decisions must be made on what will happen
to children after the marriage is over.
The specific issues that must be decided in each individual divorce are going to vary
somewhat depending upon the couple. Some individuals may have significant assets,
for example, and their divorce will present complicated financial situations. In other
cases, both spouses may be solely focused on child custody and the money issues
may not matter as much. In every divorce, however, the outcome of the separation
and divorce settlement will have a profound impact on the future of each spouse as
they move on with their lives. This is why it is so important for both individual spouses
to have their own attorneys to represent their interests, advise them of their rights
and stand up for them during divorce negotiations or litigation.
THE ISSUES INVOLVED IN SEPARATION AND DIVORCE
Although every divorce is different in personal and important ways, the issues that are
generally important when a marriage is dissolved include:
What are the Issues Involved in a Separation and Divorce? Doyle Quane Family Law Group 3
Division of marital assets
Division of marital debts
A couple may negotiate and come to an agreement on each of these issues outside of
court. Attorneys can provide assistance with the negotiation process by bringing an
understanding of the laws to the table and providing client with advice on what a
likely settlement would be if the case went to court. In some cases, a divorcing couple
may also have a mediator assist with divorce negotiations in order to better
communicate and compromise.
If a couple is unable to agree, a litigated divorce will become necessary. Each spouse
will present information to a judge on the relevant issues from the divorce and the
judge will apply the law to determine the outcome of the litigation.
DIVISION OF MARITAL ASSETS
California is a community property
state. As a result, property acquired
during the course of the marriage
belongs to both of the spouses and
each spouse is entitled to receive a ½ share of marital property. Property that was
What are the Issues Involved in a Separation and Divorce? Doyle Quane Family Law Group 4
brought into the marriage and not co-mingled remains separate and will go back to
whomever brought the assets into the marriage. Certain other property and assets,
such as an inheritance during the marriage and left to only one spouse, is also
considered separate and not divided up.
When property is divided, one spouse may be given assets of greater value while the
other takes more money. This is just one of many arrangements that the court and
the couple may deem appropriate. The couple will also need to determine if the
family home should be sold, if one spouse should buy the other out, or if one spouse
should receive the home and the other a greater percentage of shared assets.
DIVISION OF MARITAL DEBTS
Debts also belong to the community if acquired during marriage and will thus be
divided 50-50 regardless of which spouse actually borrowed. There are certain limited
exceptions, such as if one
spouse ran up a significant
amount of debt in anticipation of
the divorce. It is beneficial for
debts to be refinanced into the
name of the spouse responsible
for paying, as creditors may still
hold both spouses accountable
otherwise regardless of what the divorce decree declares. It may also be desirable to
pay off as many debts as possible from marital assets at the time of divorce to avoid
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the need for refinancing or the potential for problems with nonpayment at a
Child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child or children. Many
factors are considered including who the child’s primary caregiver has been and who
can provide a more stable home environment. It is always best if parents can create
an out-of-court parenting plan and custody arrangement but a judge will decide this
issue when necessary. A judge will almost always consider some type of shared
custody arrangement to be in the child’s best interests to make it possible for an
ongoing relationship with each parent. Exceptions are made for cases of abuse or
A standard formula is used to
determine the support to which a child
is entitled after a divorce. The formula
considers the income of each parent,
the number of children and the special
needs of the child(ren). A parent’s
support payment obligation is reduced
based on time spent with the child
under his/her physical custody as it is assumed the child is being supported while
being cared for.
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Spousal support is not appropriate in all cases but may
be awarded in longer marriages and/or when there is a
significant disparity in earnings or career potential
among the spouses. Spousal support may be
permanent or temporary.
AN ATTORNEY CAN ASSIST WITH DIVORCE ISSUES
An attorney can assist with these and other issues that
arise in the divorce process. It is always advisable to
have appropriate legal representation to protect your
interests in a divorce proceeding.
About the Author
Terence Daniel Doyle, Esq. is the
founder of the Family Law Group,
Danville CA. Terence Daniel Doyle
brings a powerful background and a
strong skill set to the firm. He is one
of only 1100 attorneys in the state of
California to hold the unique standing
of Certified Family Law Specialist
(CFLS) from the State Bar Board of
Legal Specialization. In addition to
family law, his areas of practice
include civil litigation, as well as
estate planning and taxation. Mr.
Doyle established the firm in 1984,
and maintains a strong vision for the
law group and its clients.
Terence Doyle’s greatest strength is
his ability to apply his knowledge of
case law to his client’s particular
situation, and then devising a strategy
which produces the best possible
Mr. Doyle is a member of the State
Bar in the states of California, Arizona
and Hawaii. He holds his law degree
from Golden Gate University, with a
B.A. in Mathematics from St. Mary’s
College of California. He is a Danville
California native where he resides
with his family.