When people speak with a divorce lawyer, one of the more surprising facts they may learn is that family law issues are considered separate. In the eyes of the law, questions about custody, child support, and visitation are matters for a different day than the divorce itself. Let's examine why this is and how it might affect your divorce.
There are third main reasons courts break up divorce and family law proceedings, even if there is significant overlap. First, it helps judges to be impartial by separating the noise of a divorce from the practical issues of dealing with family law questions. Second, the court conserves energy because a judge can hear contentious issues over at least two different days. Finally, divorces are final, but family law questions tend to continue for years after a divorce.
Does This Prevent the Parties from Negotiating Issues Together?
Presuming the two sides are open to negotiations, there's nothing in family law that prevents them from hashing these issues out at once. A divorce lawyer will still have to file the paperwork separately, though. That means the suit for divorce will be one filing while the family law issues will be separate filings for however many concerns there are.
Also, be aware that a divorce lawyer may break the issues up for the sake of mental convenience. For example, there shouldn't be a huge overlap between child custody and the division of assets. However, there might be some horse-trading on assets if they can offset a child support obligation. Generally, lawyers don't finalize the paperwork on one front until the two parties are ready to sign everything.
The biggest time the separation of these issues will affect you is if there are disputes. It's normal for a court to enter temporary orders regarding child custody and support while a divorce is still in process, for example. The court will encourage the two sides to negotiate a more long-term solution, but a judge may weigh in if the parties can't resolve the disputes.
Room for Future Revisions
When you file for divorce, you are pursuing a lawsuit that renders a permanent decision. Conversely, the family law issues attached to a divorce may lead to future proceedings even if the judge hands down a permanent order. This is because a court may have to review custody and support questions for a host of reasons, including changing financial circumstances and living arrangements.
To learn more information about divorce, reach out to a divorce lawyer near you.