Where will I live? How will my children cope? Will I have to get a new job to support my family? Going through a divorce can lead to these questions and more.
No matter where you are in the divorce process, it’s okay to have questions and concerns about a life change that will greatly impact the dynamic of your family. But, learning about the logistics of the legal process can help ease pre-settlement worries.
How long does the process take?
Once a petition for divorce is filed and served, the other spouse is required to respond within 30 days. If the spouse who didn’t file the petition disagrees with any portion of it, then they should note that within their response. This includes disputes related to alimony, child custody or support and the division of property or debts. Whether a spouse decides to challenge or not challenge the petition, a judge can settle the case after 60 days.
How is child custody decided?
Child custody is determined by a “best interests of the child” standard. A judge can approve joint custody between both parents or mandate sole legal custody to one parent. The custody agreement also details where the child will live, which parents can decide how to raise the child and the visitation schedule each parent or relative must follow.
How is property divided?
In South Dakota, a judge doesn’t just split property and debts in half. Rather, an equitable distribution of joint and individual property takes place. The judge who processes your case will have the final say in the property and debt division. However, the goal is to provide each party with a fair distribution or enough resources to begin their separate lives.
It’s worth noting that each party must disclose all assets prior to your court date. But, if you notice your ex-spouse hid any assets after the settlement, then you can notify the court up to three years after your divorce is final.
Every divorce case is unique, so investing in a divorce attorney who is familiar with your reasons for divorce and goals for the settlement can help set you up for many years to come.