Family lawyers are a valuable resource for people experiencing marital or common-law relationship breakdowns. Even if the break-up is amicable, it’s best to be represented by someone who will ensure your best interests and the interests of your children are protected. Here are five issues and situations a family lawyer can help with.
1. Marital home.
You might think that the marital home automatically goes to the person who owns the home (if only one spouse is registered on title). That’s not always the case. Both parties have the right to possession of the home, regardless of ownership. A pre-nuptial agreement also can’t limit the right of one spouse to be in possession of the marital home. A family lawyer can help you work through determining who will remain in the home, or the court’s may decide this issue for you.
2. Child custody.
In order to preserve your parental rights, it’s best to not leave the marital home without first having a formal agreement in place. If you leave the marital home and your spouse becomes the primary caregiver on a daily basis, it can be difficult to re-establish your rights, and your role in the children’s lives, at a later date.
3. Division of assets.
Divorce doesn’t always mean a 50-50 split on all owned assets. There’s a complex method of determining equalization that a family lawyer can guide you through. Equalization involves determining and finding all of the assets and making sure they are valued properly. What was owned on the date of marriage and by who? Have any of the assets been sold or disposed of throughout the marriage? Consideration must be given to valuation of the assets and any tax issues surrounding them, particularly where liabilities may be a factor now or in the future. Involving your family lawyer early in the divorce process is the best course of action for figuring out which assets each party will retain.
4. Division of retirement funds or pensions.
Pensions and retirement funds protect the long-term security of the family from a financial standpoint. For this reason, it’s vital that you speak with a family lawyer who can help you determine whether or not to unlock the value of your pension in order to settle the divorce proceedings. Sometimes it is necessary to do this economically. In other instances, it’s better to keep the pension or retirement funds intact for the future. As each case is different, it’s not always a clear-cut decision so check with your family lawyer as soon as possible.
5. Division of business assets.
Splitting up business assets is not easy. Consideration has to be given to future tax implications and to the valuation of the business and its’ assets. Future income from the business can also have some bearing on future child or spousal support. A family lawyer will lead you through this area of the divorce to ensure you receive an equitable settlement.
If you’re getting a divorce or planning on getting divorced, find a family lawyer who has experience in all of these areas and any others that may apply to your specific situation.