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Family Law FAQs

Family Law FAQs

By Maury D. Beaulier, Esq.


What does it mean when a divorce is called "No Fault?"

In the not so distant past, divorces could only be granted for specified reasons such as infidelity or abandonment. This resulted in much highly emotional litigation that pitted one spouse against another with each painting the other as the "bad guy." Most states have eliminated fault from itís statutes. Currently, for a divorce to be granted there must only be an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

What if I Donít want the divorce?

You may ask your spouse to attend counseling. However, you cannot force that person to attend counseling or to cooperate. If your spouse refuses, the divorce will move forward. In most counties, a Judge will grant a divorce if one party believes that an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage exists.

Once a divorce has been filed, it is important to promptly address the issues. Delay and foot dragging may impair your rights and result in an order requiring you to pay your spouseís attorneyís fees if the Court finds that you have unreasonably contributed to the length and delay of the proceedings.

Should I file for divorce first?

There is very little advantage to filing first. One possible advantage is the ability to choose the county in which the case is filed. Where the parties have established two separate residences there may be two potential jurisdictions. Your attorney may have insight into the subtle biases of each county and the different processes used allowing him./her to choose a the more favorable forum.

When is a child old enough to decide where he/she wants to live?

In most states a child can never decide where he or she will live. Instead, a determination with regard to physical custody is made based on what is in the childís "best interests." Certainly the childís wishes may be considered as part of that analysis and as the child matures that opinion carries greater weight.

At the time of my divorce, I was ordered to pay alimony. Since then, my ex has doubled his/her salary. Must I continue to pay alimony?

If a Court order requires payment of alimony, the alimony may only be terminated when the Court issues another order terminating the obligation. Generally, this may be accomplished by filing a Motion seeking a termination (or in the alternative, a reduction) of alimony. The motion is usually supported by an affidavit describing for the court the financial circumstances at the time alimony was awarded contrasted with the current circumstances. If there has been a substantial change in the financial circumstances of the parties, the alimony may be reduced or eliminated.

My ex hid assets during the discovery phase of my divorce. New facts have come to light. What can I do?

A divorce decree may be reopened with regard to the division of assets if is determined that assets were not fraudulently concealed. If a determination is made that fraud has occurred, the Court will often punish the party concealing the assets by awarding the asset to the other party and/or awarding attorneys fees. Generally, as part of the discovery process each party signs disclosures under oath indicating that they have disclosed all marital assets. These disclosures may take the form of Interrogatory Answers or Sworn Statements as to Assets and Liabilities.

I think my child support is too high. How do I get it lowered?

In order to reduce your child support, you must bring the matter before the Court by filing a Motion with supporting affidavits which demonstrat

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