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Divorce settlements are agreements made between the parties involved in the dissolution of the marriage. Divorce settlements will detail all the specific terms of a divorce, such as the division of property, assets, and debts. When children are involved in a divorce, the division of parental rights and responsibilities will also be included in divorce settlements. According to national divorce statistics, the average length of time it takes to finalize divorce settlements and other proceedings is one year in the United States. The time it takes for divorce settlements to be reached depends largely on the 6specifics of a divorce case and how agreements are reached.
There are several ways that an agreement can be reached in divorce settlements. When the dissolution of marriage does not involve children, divorcing parties are free to determine the terms of divorce settlements as they see fit, so long as they can agree. When children are involved parents are largely able to determine these terms, but they must be approved by a family law judge. When there are some discrepancies in each party's interests, divorce settlements may be reached with the help of a mediator.
A mediator is a neural third-party who is trained to help people work through divorce settlements. A mediator can be court appointed or privately hired, depending on the divorce case. A mediator can help divorcing parties work through their discrepancies of interest to come to an agreement in divorce settlements. When divorce settlements cannot be made through mediations, a family law judge can hear the divorce case in order to determine the terms of divorce settlements.
In divorce settlements the division of assets and debts is subject to specific state law. Some states have community property laws which state that all of the marital property, assets, and debts will be divided fifty-fifty in divorce settlements. In other states, divorce settlements are reached based on equitable distribution statutes. Equitable distribution laws state that the division of marital property shall be divided fairly based on a number of case specific factors. The length of the marriage, individual earning capacities, and a number of other factors may be taken into consideration when determining the terms of divorce settlements.
Divorce settlements can also have details about court-ordered spousal or child support. Spousal support or alimony is one partner's legal obligation to provide support to the other party as indicated by the family court. Child support will be determined in conjunction with the other child related terms of divorce settlements.
In divorce settlements, legal decisions involving children will always be made in the best interests of the children. Family law courts and judges will consistently judge in the best interests of the children when determining legal and physical custody as well as child support. Legal custody of children gives the parent(s) or guardian(s) decision-making authority while physical custody determines who the child will live with and be cared for.
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Child custody rights may be shared by both parents or, primary child custody rights may be awarded to one parent or legal guardian. Since the 1970s the family court will award child custody rights contingent with the best interests of the child.
Child custody for fathers following a divorce is one of the most important aspects of a dissolving marriage. Throughout history the legal presumptions about child custody for fathers has changed significantly. Before the twentieth century children were regarded as the property of their father. Under common law, child custody for fathers was commonly awarded, as children were considered a father's rightful property. A major shift occurred after this period in history, as family courts came to favor mothers in child custody cases. It was presumed that under normal circumstances, children did better when placed in the sole custody of their mothers.