What Are My Legal Rights in a Divorce?

Updated March 16, 2017

In preparing to file for divorce you must understand your basic legal rights. Your basic legal rights in a divorce case are divided in categories that include property and finances, children and court proceedings.


A major right in a divorce case is to receive a fair share of assets. Some states employ a community property standard that results in setting aside 50 per cent of the assets obtained during the marriage to each spouse. Other states use equitable division that allows for more flexibility in distributing assets.


A right in a divorce action is to obtain a fair distribution of the debts acquired during the marriage. An appropriate distribution of debt is made between the parties so that no spouse is unfairly burdened.


Depending on your financial status and work history, a right to seek maintenance (formerly known as alimony) exists. Maintenance allows you to receive a set payment from your ex-spouse for a specific period of time to permit you to maintain the lifestyle you enjoyed before the divorce.


One of your legal rights in a divorce is to obtain custody of your child. In most cases, courts order joint custody through which major decisions in the child's life are made jointly by both parents.

Parenting Time

If you do not have primary custody of a child born during the marriage, you have the right to parenting time. Parenting time (formerly known as visitation) is to be "reasonable and regular" to give you the ability to develop a meaningful relationship with your child.


A fundamental right in your divorce case is to be properly notified of all hearings and to have the opportunity to present your case and contentions at these court sessions.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Mike Broemmel began writing in 1982. He is an author/lecturer with two novels on the market internationally, "The Shadow Cast" and "The Miller Moth." Broemmel served on the staff of the White House Office of Media Relations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science from Benedictine College and a Juris Doctorate from Washburn University. He also attended Brunel University, London.