There are few laws regarding divorce at the federal level. Generally speaking, most of the laws regarding family issues are legislated at the state level, and this includes divorce law. For this reason, it is critical to have attorneys representing you as well as your spouse, because state laws can vary by state. The following are a few examples of when state laws can have an impact on your divorce.
Not every state has community property laws
Many people watch television and movies where a married couple get a divorce, and everything the married couple owns is split in half and divided equally. This type of law is commonly called a community property law. Although it is true that there are many states that have such laws, there are plenty of states that do not. Most of these states have equitable distribution laws. It may be true that in these states the property will be divided equally, but it is not automatic.
There are differences in the waiting period
The time between the divorce agreement is reached and the time the divorce is finalized varies by state. Also known as a cooling off period, these laws are designed to give a couple the chance to reconcile before they are legally divorced. This time period in some states can be several months, and there is nothing you can do about it but be patient. In addition, some states have residency requirements. Simply put, this means you can't file for divorce until you have lived in the state for a minimum amount of time.
Alimony payments vary greatly
If you plan on getting alimony, how much you get will depend upon the state that you reside in. Some states can be generous to the spouse with lower or no income. However, there are a few states that make collecting alimony difficult. For most marriages in Texas, alimony is a maximum of 20 percent of the higher earning spouse and only lasts five years.
When spouses are living in different states
Where you will find the biggest problem is when you and your spouse are living in two different states. Each state will have different laws regarding jurisdiction over property. Divorces between couples across state lines can be complicated, and if there are custody issues, a divorce can be so complex that it becomes impossible to do without legal assistance.
Regardless of what you may have heard about divorce from your friends or family, they may not apply to the state you are currently living in. Even if you have previously gone through a divorce in the state you currently reside in, the chances are that there have been changes in the state laws since your last divorce.