Want To Divorce An Incarcerated Spouse? Know These Things First

In many aspects, divorcing an incarcerated spouse is similar to divorcing a spouse who is free. For example, you still need to serve them the divorce papers and negotiate for your fair share of marital assets. However, there are some little-but-important details that you should know if planning to divorce a spouse in prison; here are three examples:

Incarceration Can Be Grounds for Divorce

Incarceration is valid grounds for divorce in some states. Individual states, however, determines which type of incarceration qualifies. For example, some states will only allow you to use incarceration as grounds for divorce after your spouse has served a minimum number of years in prison. Other states will allow you to cite incarceration as soon as your spouse is sentenced to a specified number of years in prison.

Evaluate the pros and cons of filing for at-fault divorce before making a move. For example, a successful at-fault divorce may entitle you to a larger portion of your marital assets than a no-fault divorce. On the other hand, you will need to prove your allegations (the grounds for divorce), which means you may spend more resources than if you just opted for a no-fault divorce.

Child Support May Not Be Forthcoming

Another thing you should know is that you aren't likely to get child support if your spouse doesn't have income or assets they can use to pay child support when incarcerated. Spouses who have businesses, company shares, or money in bank accounts may use them for child support. Unfortunately, you may not get anything if your spouse was solely reliant on their employment income. If that's the case, ask your lawyer about financial support from the government, such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

It Might Take Longer

Lastly, you should know that divorcing an incarcerated spouse might take longer than divorcing a partner who is free. The main reason for this is that you won't have the freedom to meet anytime you want to discuss your issues or negotiate your settlement.

For example, if both of you are free and you are going through an amicable divorce, you can call each other on the phone at any time to discuss your issues. In some cases, you will still be living in the same house while going through a divorce. This means you will have ample time to discuss and negotiate things. If a spouse is in jail, however, most meetings have to be scheduled, and that may take time.

It is these little details that complicate the process of divorcing a spouse in prison. Since you need all the help you can get at this time, it's advisable to hire a divorce attorney, such as those found at Reagan, Melton, & Delaney LLP, to help you with the process.