Husband Loves His Wife and Wants a Divorce in Texas "On Paper" for Strategic Financial Reasons?

This article addresses whether there are strategic financial reasons for getting a divorce in Harris and Montgomery County in Texas to take advantage of governmental benefits.

Today I got a call from a man whose first question was “would it be financially beneficial for me to get a divorce?” This question took me a little by surprise. My first thought was “No! Getting a divorce will probably hurt your pocket book a lot.”

After my initial gut reaction, I started ask my caller some questions to get some background on his situation to see if there was anything legally I could do to help him. As I understood his situation his wife had some serious health problems and they were both on fixed incomes. The caller was interested in finding out if he got a divorce "on paper" whether his wife might be able to qualify for more governmental programs without his added income.

I let my caller know I was not sure. I then started to do a little preliminary research while he was on the phone. A few cursory searches and some additional questions to my caller about his wife and his income I was able to see that it might be beneficial. I let him know what I had found out but I would like to do some more research before I gave him an answer and would call him back.

This was not the first time I encountered a husband wanting to get a divorce from his wife because he loved her and wanted to protect her financially. I remember a professor I had while I was still pursuing my bachelor’s degree had mentioned doing something similar. With that in mind I began my research.

Texas Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

While my caller was still on the phone I first started looking at food stamps. The first one I looked at was Texas Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which is a program to help buy nutritious food.

Below are the household income limits based on household size for this program.

Texas Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Household income Limit

Looking at the above table I noticed that a household with only 1 person in it could qualify even if they made $15,301. However a household with 2 people was only allowed to make an additional $5,408.

It appears that if my caller and his wife did not qualify for this program based on their combined income then getting a divorce might make a difference for his wife if it would bring her income below the requirement for a household with 1 person in it.

Section 8 Housing

This information was not as easy to find. Reading the HUD website I learned that in order to be eligible to receive a housing voucher “in general, the family's income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which the family chooses to live. By law, a PHA must provide 75 percent of its voucher to applicants whose incomes do not exceed 30 percent of the area median income. Median income levels are published by HUD and vary by location.”

I having found out that I then began to try and track down what that meant for Harris and Montgomery County, Texas.

In Harris County:

Harris County Section 8 Household Income Limit

In Montgomery County:

Montgomery County Section 8 Household Income Limit

Based on this information I was able to conclude yes getting a divorce might make a difference in getting governmental assistance for Section 8 housing vouchers.

However, both Harris and Montgomery County’s websites warned that “applications are only available when the voucher program waiting list is open! Please be aware that MCHA is only able to assist families depending upon available federal funding.”

I also saw on the Houston Chronicle website that about 17,000 people apply each year in Harris County but there are only about 2000 vouchers available.

Social Security

My Caller also specifically asked about social security and whether his wife would be able to get more social security if she was divorced. Not having had this issue come up before I continued to research.

My research revealed that there may be an advantage that divorced couples enjoy over married couples. Both divorced spouses can collect a full spousal benefit once they reach full retirement age while letting their own retirement benefit continue to grow through age 70. Married folks can only do this for one of the two spouses.

My cursory research revealed that it is not a given that two spousal benefits are better than one. Much like other questions regarding social security the answer depended on when you were born and when you would be retiring. Fortunately Economist Laurence Kotlikoff, has created a program located at MaximizeMySocialSecurity.com, which allows couples on his site to run the numbers as married and divorced so they can judge for themselves what the best strategy might be.

Tax Reasons

There might be possible tax reasons for getting a divorce. One article I read was about a couple who considered a divorce to avoid Alternative Minimum Taxes. The United States tax code puts many people in a higher tax bracket once they tie the knot. I am not a tax professional and would suggest that anyone considering this for CPA first.

Other Considerations

This is an interesting an interesting topic and one I probably will revisit. It is pretty oxymoronic, that laws concerning taxes and various benefits are so different between married and single people that it might possibly be beneficial to get a divorce.

However, some additional things to consider is that the divorce could mean some additional costs such two households to support in other words 2 rents, 2 electric bills, 2 gas bills, furniture etc. I discuss these considerations in another article I wrote “Should I move out of the marital home during a divorce?” In that article I talk about how “the income that once supported one household stretch to take care of two. This can be a difficult thing to do. For this reason some couples continue living together in the family home because they cannot otherwise afford to support a second household.” My gut reaction is that getting a divorce is not a magic bullet and maybe more trouble then any financial benefit it would provide. However, I also believe this is a very fact intensive problem that would have to be decided for each case scenario.

Book an appointment with Law Office of Bryan Fagan using SetMore

Ebook

If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: 16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce

Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. 6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas
  2. I Want a Texas Divorce but My Husband Doesn't: What can I do?
  3. Am I Married? - Marital Status in Texas
  4. Can I sue my spouse's mistress in Texas?
  5. 6 Tips - On How to prepare for a Texas Divorce
  6. Roadmap of Basic Divorce Procedure in Texas
  7. Child Custody Basics in Texas
  8. 6 Mistakes that can Destroy Your Texas Divorce Case
  9. 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
  10. Does it Matter who Files First in a Texas Divorce?

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

Comments

No Comments Posted
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Our blog features a wealth of knowledge pertaining to some of the most frequently asked family law questions.

    Read More
  • Sign Up For Our Free E-Course

    Click here to sign up for our free E-Course on Divorce! It has been specifically created to help people who are considering divorce and wish to learn more about the divorce process

    Sign Up Now
  • Schedule Your Free Consultation Now

    Schedule a risk-free consultation today and we can assess your case.

    Book Now
  • Meet With a Finance Specialist

    Discuss payment plan options and more with a finance specialist.

    Get Started Now

Contact Us

Law Office of Bryan Fagan
Spring Divorce Attorney
Located at: 3707 Farm to Market 1960 W.,
Suite 400,

Houston, TX 77068
View Map
Phone: (281) 810-9760
Office Hours:
Mon-Fri 8 AM – 6 PM
Saturday- By Appointment Only
Website:
© 2017 All Rights Reserved.

Disclaimer

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.