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
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
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