Signing divorce papers

The choice to divorce can be a complicated and difficult one. Knowing what to do and what steps to take to protect your interests and your family’s interests after filing for divorce can be overwhelming. For many, the divorce process can be confusing. 

While nearly 50% of all marriages end in divorce, no two divorces are the same, which can bring up various questions about what you are entitled to and your rights. During a divorce, you have rights and your rights are protected under law. 

Spousal Support (Alimony)

The laws regarding alimony vary from state to state, so it can be difficult to assess who may be eligible for alimony. Spousal support, also called alimony, is a tool used by the courts to provide financial assistance to a spouse due to the divorce to help maintain the lifestyle a spouse had during the marriage. The court system may award alimony in a divorce settlement if a spouse does not have property and/or cannot support themselves financially following a divorce.

The amount and duration of alimony will also depend on a variety of factors so it can be difficult to estimate amounts without the help of an experienced attorney. “Ultimately, the decision to order spousal support, at what amount, and the duration of that support, is at the court’s discretion,” note Los Angeles alimony attorneys at Fernandez & Karney, “Since the court is granted the latitude to consider any equitable factors, it has broad discretion when making spousal support orders.”

Child Custody

The court system will prioritize the welfare of the child before anything else when evaluating child custody arrangements during divorce proceedings. This said, typically the courts will assume that if a couple has children while married, the parents have joint guardianship and equal parental rights of the children. 

There are various types of custody, such as joint, sole, physical, and legal; if you have questions, a family law attorney in your area will be able to help explain which types of custody will be applicable to your unique case. In circumstances where domestic violence, abuse, or general threat to the child’s safety is present, the courts may deny custody or visitation rights. In cases where a parent abandoned their child, the other parent may be eligible for sole custody.


Depending on your state’s laws about equitable distribution or community property, property can be divided in one of two ways. Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin are all community property states, which means the couple’s property is either community or separate property. Community property constitutes as all income and assets acquired during the marriage and traditionally will be split 50/50 in a divorce case.

In equitable distribution states, the court may award spouses a percentage of total value of property, which does not always mean physical division. Each spouse will receive property, assets, and debts to add up to a certain percentage.  

Learn More About Your Rights

When facing divorce proceedings, remember you have rights. Depending on your circumstances, you have the right to alimony, child custody, and marital property. To learn more about your specific case and what you may be entitled to, consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney in your area. A family law firm can help prepare you for the divorce process and ensure your rights are protected in court. 

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