Common mistakes in Texas divorces and how to avoid them

Throughout the course of a divorce there are many, many decisions that people make that can affect their family and their case. If you are considering a divorce then understanding the common mistakes that other people have made in their divorces and then seeking to avoid those mistakes can be the difference between your having peace of mind about the process and suffering from anxiety.

Careful planning and having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to represent you and your interests are at the top of any list that is intended to help potential parties to divorce. You do not have control over the judge, your soon to be ex spouse or the opposing attorney. What you do have control over is yourself and your actions. With that in mind the following is a list of those mistakes that I believe are preventable in your own divorce.

Keep all documents and property intact throughout your divorce

When I first entered law school, stories and urban legends of students hiding reference books around exam time were told as a warning to students to watch your back and look out for yourself around that time of the year. Now, I never experienced that degree of “gamesmanship” but it speaks to a win at all costs mentality that can take over in people when the stakes are high enough.

That little aside from my own life speaks to an issue that I have seen occur in more cases than I care to remember: tampering with and/or destroying evidence in the time preceding or during a divorce case. Now, your attorney will not expect you to know this on your own and what is and what is not relevant to your divorce is not something that is well known for most parties to divorce cases. However, I am here to tell you that if you think something may be relevant to your or your spouse’s case then it is best to leave that item alone for the time being.

You can make your attorney aware of what it is what your thoughts are about it and then rely on their expertise. The last thing you want to do is to throw something in the garbage only to have your spouse ask for it in a discovery request. Temporary Orders or Standing Orders are set up in divorce cases early on in the process to keep parties from doing exactly this. If you find yourself in a situation where you are unsure if something can be disposed of contact your attorney before taking any action.

A less common concern for most people in a divorce is the status of property that you own. If your name appears on a the deed to a parcel of land and you attempt to sell that property or deed the property to another person then your spouse and then the court will certainly ask you to explain your actions. The judge will intend for you to maintain the status quo when it comes to all property during the divorce. Attempting to side-step these legal mandates will leave you in a position where you will be on the hook for paying significant fines to the other side in attorney’s fees, not to mention the marring of your case from a the perspective of the judge.

Stay away from the bank: No new debts during the divorce

Part of any standing order or temporary order is the barring of you or your spouse taking out loans or racking up big credit card bills during the divorce. It doesn’t matter if the credit card or the loan is in your name only and does not take into account your spouse. The reason being is that technically any debt you incur during the course of your marriage is considered to be part of the community estate. This means that you and your spouse own that debt together regardless of who actually took out the loan or used the credit card.

A judge will typically review the sorts of debts that are outstanding and then apply their own analysis of which party deserves to take on the responsibility of paying that particular item. Much like my previous piece of advice surrounding property issues, it is best to not make any rash decisions or to change the quantity of your debts at this stage in the game.

This goes for reducing or paying off debt as well. If you are in the midst of paying off debt my advice would be to tap the breaks on that plan while your divorce is ongoing. The reason is two fold. First, there is no reason to take on that responsibility during the divorce when the judge will likely order you and your spouse to split the debt pretty much 50/50. If you pay down the debt yourself you are taking on a heftier burden that is likely needed. Secondly- the money you are paying the debt down with is likely income that belongs to the community and not your separate estate. If any of that money goes towards paying debt that could be construed as your separate debts then you may have to answer to the judge when the issues of wasting community property arises.

Have more questions on the what to avoid in a Texas divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

There are probably a million pieces of advice an attorney could provide you with in the context of what not to do in a divorce. However, I wanted to share these two pieces with you today as I’ve found them to be incredibly relevant for most people going through a divorce in Texas.

If you have questions on these topics of any other in Texas family law please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. A free of charge consultation is only a phone call away where one of our licensed family law attorneys can sit with you and answer any questions you may have about divorce, child custody or any other topic related to your family.

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