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What is the Difference Between Separation and Divorce?

By | Divorce

What is the Difference Between Separation and Divorce?

If you are thinking about ending your marriage, you are likely facing one of the most challenging decisions of your life. There are many factors involved and couples may struggle for a long time before deciding what the best choice is for them and their family. Whether you are considering a legal separation or a divorce, it’s understandable to have questions — and the divorce lawyers at Destiny Law are here to help you navigate this difficult time.

Legal Separation vs Divorce

When making this type of life-changing decision, it’s important to consider all of your options. Splitting up could mean you and your spouse get a divorce or a legal separation. Legal separation and divorce are both legally binding contracts that outline the terms of your separation. Couples often negotiate the terms of property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. While the two are similar and the legal procedures are the same, there is one critical difference. At the end of a legal separation, the parties are still married, even though they live separate lives; whereas, at the end of a divorce, they are no longer married and they are able to remarry in the future.

A separation agreement covers the period of time after you separate and before your divorce is finalized with the court. A separation agreement must be in writing and signed by both spouses to be valid.

A separation agreement addresses important terms of the separation. For example, it might include:

  • How to split up parental rights and responsibilities
  • How marital property and debt are divided
  • The amount of child support set and who will pay support
  • If a spouse will provide financial support to the other
  • If a spouse will remain on the other’s medical insurance

The terms of the separation agreement may be adjusted or merged into the divorce decree if the spouses choose so. However, the court must always consider the best interest of the children, if the parties cannot reach an agreement.

Should You Separate or Get a Divorce?

Legal separation can be thought of as a trial run for a divorce. It provides a much-needed break for spouses to work through the issues affecting their marriage and determine their next step, whether it is reconciliation, continuing to stay separated, or moving forward with a divorce.

Reasons couples may choose to separate rather than divorce include:

  • Religious/moral reasons
  • To remain on one spouse’s medical insurance
  • Tax benefits that are given to married couples
  • Divorce feels too permanent
  • They want to live apart but want the court to create a legal agreement that addresses child custody and support

Contact Our Arkansas Separation & Divorce Lawyers

The end of a legal relationship can be difficult and complicated, that’s why it is ideal to have an attorney on your side. At Destiny Law, we are committed to helping our clients navigate the separation and divorce process. We fight for the best possible outcome for the entire family while also protecting your rights.

Our Little Rock and Hot Springs, Arkansas legal separation and divorce lawyers offer one-hour consultations for a set fee to evaluate your case with you. We will explain to you how legal separation and divorce law work and provide you with an overview of your rights. After this consultation, the required retainer and costs can then be estimated.

Contact Our Divorce/Separation Lawyers
child with parents arguing in background

Divorce Rules for Parents

By | Divorce

Divorce Rules for Parents

Going through a divorce can be one of the most challenging events in one’s life. Not only does this major change affect you and your spouse, but if you have children, they can also feel the emotional strain and stress. Watch this TED Talk with Professor Tamara D. Afifi on The Impact of Divorce on Children.

What you can do to help ease this difficult time is leave your children out of the conflict. You can do this by being mindful of your words and actions that involve the other parent when your children are present. We understand that may be easier said than done! Our divorce and family lawyers in Little Rock are here to help. The Destiny Law divorce attorneys in Little Rock have compiled some guidelines below that you and your spouse should follow throughout your divorce, for the sake of your children.

How to Handle Divorce and Children

  • Do not badmouth, judge, or criticize the other parent. When you attack the other parent, you hurt your children. Your children will feel torn between the two of you and this can negatively impact how they feel about themselves. This also goes for the other parent’s relatives and friends. Do not let your feelings impact your children’s’ relationships with those close to the other parent. Let your children care for someone, even if you don’t.
  • Be mindful of who is around when speaking about a divorce or custody issue. Although you may not be talking directly to the children, they hear everything. They are like sponges soaking up information even when you think they aren’t.
  • Try to maintain composure when the children are present. If you have negative thoughts, words, or feelings about the other parent, children pick up on those cues as well.
  • Do not let anyone else speak about divorce issues, custody issues, or negative opinions about the other parent while in the presence or earshot of your children.
  • Do not talk about the divorce or other adult issues with your children as if they are your confidants. Rarely is it ever in the best interest of children to be exposed to information regarding the specifics of your divorce. Children should not be made to feel responsible for their parent’s emotional well-being. Instead, share your feelings about the divorce with a therapist or an adult friend.
  • Do not talk about money or child support with them, as this can make children feel guilty or like they are possessions instead of your children.
  • Do not argue in front of your children or on the phone when they are in earshot, furthermore, do not fight fire with fire when the other parent says or does something damaging. Not only does this cause stress, but it sets a bad example for conflict resolution. Handle any disputes such as child support or custody in private or with the help of a Little Rock divorce attorney through mediation.
  • Do not keep your children from seeing or calling the other parent, and do not make them feel bad about spending time with their parent. It is important for your children to have ongoing contact with each of their parents, but when they are with the other parent, do not interrupt their time by calling too often.
  • Do not ask them to keep secrets from the other parent or spy for you at the other parent’s house. This can make them feel disloyal, dishonest, and bad about themselves.
  • Do not ask your children intrusive questions about other parent’s life. This puts them in an uncomfortable position where they may feel conflicted about what they should share.
  • Do not have your children deliver messages to the other parent, verbal or written. This can make them feel anxious about their parent’s reaction, or they may read the note which could include details they do not need to know. There are many forms of communication that do not require your children to be the “middle man.”
  • Do not blame the other parent for the divorce or the things wrong in your life. Children should not be made to feel sorry for you or feel like they need to defend the other parent.
  • Do not ignore or sit far away from the other parent when at school, sports, or public events, as this can make children feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. It is best to try to have a cordial co-parenting relationship.
  • Realize that your children now have two homes, and allow them to bring items back and forth between their homes. This may help make their new living situation feel a little more consistent. However, do not put them in the position where they feel they have to choose by asking them where they like living better.
  • Do not try to buy your children’s’ love or outdo the other parent. Moreover, do not use guilt or try to pressure them to “love you more.” They love you both and it should not be a competition.
  • Let your children see each of you as much as possible. Keeping a strong, positive relationship with both parents helps children cope with divorce. Try to be inclusive and flexible with the other parent, even when it’s not part of the regular schedule. Inform the other parent of special events, school functions, or extracurricular activities whenever possible.
  • If you need help managing a difficult co-parenting relationship, there are many tools available to assist you, including but not limited to individual therapy, co-parenting counseling/therapy, and parenting apps to help make communications between you and the other parent less emotional and more productive.

Contact Our Arkansas Divorce Lawyers

At Destiny Law, we are committed to helping our clients navigate the divorce process and get to the best possible outcome for the entire family while also protecting their rights. If you are ending your marriage, you need to have a trusted divorce lawyer by your side. Let us help you through this complicated life change.

Our Little Rock and Hot Springs, Arkansas divorce lawyers offer one-hour consultations for a set fee to evaluate your case with you. We will explain to you how divorce law works and provide you with an overview of your rights. After this consultation, the required retainer and costs can then be estimated.

Contact Our Divorce Lawyers
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How COVID-19 Could Impact Your Divorce Settlement

By | Divorce

How COVID-19 Could Impact Your Divorce Settlement

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many aspects of most people’s lives, including couples going through the divorce process. When it comes to figuring out finances and dividing property, the process can be daunting on its own, but during COVID-19, it has become even more uncertain. The Little Rock divorce attorneys at Destiny Law are here to help make the divorce process easier for you and your family. Here is what you need to know about divorce settlements during COVID-19:

Virtual Hearings

Many courts are operating in a limited capacity because of the pandemic, which has subsequently impacted the methods of handling divorce cases through the court system. To help facilitate the divorce process and that of other types of cases that normally go through the courts, many courts have allowed for e-filing along with the conducting of virtual hearings, which entail video conferencing between attorneys and judges.

Because of the interruption of court proceedings, couples are also seeking alternatives to trial such as mediation, which can be more easily conducted virtually or via telephone conferencing. Our divorce attorneys can help determine how to approach a case if there are any delays or cancellations in your court proceedings.

Employment and Financial Standing

The pandemic resulted in an increased unemployment rate, with many workers furloughed. The ensuing recession will inevitably result in layoffs across the country, or at the very least pay cuts for many who are still able to work.

If you are in the middle of the divorce process, any negative change in your employment status could be detrimental, resulting in an inability to make child support and other payments. While the stimulus check offered some assistance, that assistance wasn’t enough for many families who are still struggling.

It’s best for couples to discuss the financial situation they’re in so that they can develop realistic expectations and come to reasonable agreements over the financial aspects of the divorce.

Decreased Share Prices and Affected Pensions

As share prices have decreased substantially, pensions have also decreased in value as a result of share-invested funds. Subsequently, all cash equivalent values (CEVs) will become outdated. While depreciated pensions may be acceptable if a couple shares them, the hit experienced with offset pensions kept by one individual may cause more uneven financial damage.

On the other hand, the pandemic may not impact final salary public sector pensions, seeing as the pension comes with a guarantee of income, which is still in place. However, offsetting for these pensions may still be unfair because while the pension doesn’t change in value, the value of the home may decrease, which brings us to our next point.

Uncertainty Around Real Estate

It can be difficult to gauge whether real estate will be negatively or positively affected, but it’s important to monitor the markets if real estate is involved in a divorce. You may experience delays if selling real estate, so take this into consideration when figuring out carrying costs and the division of property.

Consult with Reputable Little Rock Divorce Lawyers

If you are getting divorced, you need a skilled attorney on your side. The divorce attorneys at Destiny Law in Little Rock can take all of the uncertainties due to COVID-19 into consideration and advocate for you during the divorce process.

Contact us today for a free consultation!

signing divorce papers, destiny law

What To Do When Getting a Divorce

By | Divorce

Planning For Divorce – Complete Checklist

Going through a divorce can be an extremely complex and difficult time in one’s life. The end of a marriage often puts an emotional strain on every family member and they may all experience stress. Even when couples decide to end things mutually and on decent terms, the divorce process can still be uncertain and exhausting. So, where do you begin?

The best place to start is with Destiny Law. Our experienced divorce and family lawyers in Little Rock understand that at the end of the separation, you may still need some type of relationship with your ex for the benefit of your children. We are committed to helping our clients navigate the divorce process and get to the best possible outcome for the entire family while also protecting your rights.

Divorce Checklist

If you are starting the divorce process or planning to do so, you may feel overwhelmed. That is extremely normal; however, you do not have to go at it alone. Our divorce checklist can get you on the right path:

Family Matters

  • Establish new boundaries and determine when you will tell your family
  • Begin discussing new living situations
  • If you have children, determine a visitation/time sharing schedule, who will provide health insurance, claim them on taxes, etc.

Financial Matters

  • Make a plan for closing joint bank accounts and paying off and dividing credit accounts
  • Open new credit card accounts in your own name
  • Review and update your monthly budget
  • Gather all of your financial information, such as:
    • Debt
    • Assets
    • Expenses
    • Property
    • Copies of all financial records and tax returns, etc.

Legal Matters

  • Consult with an experienced divorce attorney
  • Provide your divorce lawyer with necessary documents, such as:
    • Proof of income for you and your spouse
    • Bank / Financial statements
    • Insurance policies
    • Property appraisals
    • Debts
    • Assets
    • Property
    • Tax Records, etc.

Download Divorce Checklist

This is an extensive list but it is not exhaustive. Every marriage is different and thus every divorce will be different. It is best to speak with a divorce attorney about the specifics of your marriage, assets, and expenses for them to get a more accurate understanding of your situation.

For more information on what to do during a divorce, read our divorce FAQs.

Little Rock Divorce Attorney

If you are going through a divorce, you need to have a trusted Little Rock divorce attorney by your side. Let Destiny Law help you through this complicated life change. We have the skills and resources to help you come to a solution that you are comfortable with and can go your own way to begin your separate lives. Contact us today for a free consultation.