Are you considering re-marrying after a recent divorce? Or perhaps you are a single person who just found out that you are pregnant or your partner/significant other is pregnant? These are not only life-defining moments for you but can be moments and events that define your financial life as well. As such, you should not enter into them lightly or without regard for the implications of the decisions you make- both in the immediate sense and on into the future.
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, would like to single out a handful of these life events and discuss with you the impact each can have on your financial future.
Beyond the superficial sound bites like "Having a kid is expensive!" or "Marriage is grand, but divorce is fifty grand!" we would like to share our perspective on them so that you can be a well-educated and informed person in this regard.
Getting married and starting a family
You may be surprised to click on our blog today only to find that family law attorneys discuss marriage, not divorce. Deciding with your partner to get married or live together as a couple and then have children requires that you be well informed of the issues associated with each of those decisions. The majority of people don't have a lot of wiggle room in their budget to make bad decisions concerning these subjects.
There are ways to escape bad decisions, but those decisions have consequences. Often those consequences have a dollar sign at the beginning and a few zeroes at the end, unfortunately.
Especially if you have been divorced before, getting married again means that you must be involved in the decision-making with your spouse regarding financial decisions. If you did not learn this from your divorce, your spouse's decisions regarding finances would affect you in an authentic sense.
Remember that most of the property and income you and your spouse acquire during your marriage will be considered community property when you get married. The property you came out of your first marriage with or owned before you were ever married is your separate property. The same can be said of the property owned by your spouse to be.
If you came out of your first marriage with debts that you did not specifically take out, it might be a good idea to speak to your spouse regarding your family's opinions and thoughts on debt. What debts need to be paid off?
Would you all be utilizing debt in the future? The most challenging part of paying debt continually is that you cannot use that money to build wealth for the future. Being bitten by the debt bug may be enough to swear you off the subject altogether. Communicate this to your fiancé and see where the discussion takes you.
Decision making regarding property
Once you get married again, the ownership associated with your and your spouse's property changes; if you are interested in keeping as your separate property an item that would otherwise be considered to be community property, your best bet is to draft a premarital agreement with your spouse before getting married. This legally binding document designates that particular property as either community or separate.
For instance, if you incurred a debt you incurred in your first marriage that you and your fiancé agree should be separate and not subject to division in your divorce, then you can isolate that debt as your individual property in the premarital agreement.
It may not be romantic m it may be challenging to discuss, but you may want to ask your fiancé to pull their credit report, and you can do the same. Take a look to verify all your accounts are correct and to confirm any balances with creditors. Now is a better time to find this information out than after you have said, "I do." Plan instead of going back in time to erase a prior mistake.
Finally, learn from your fiancé whether or not he has any child support payments that are outstanding or any responsibility to pay child support at all. You would be surprised to learn that some people find out that their spouse has a child from a prior relationship only after they have married one another. This is a financial commitment that can stretch years into the future depending upon the age of your fiancé's child.
Financial issues related to children
If you don't have children currently but are considering starting a family, you should be aware that time and money before the rarest and the most important of commodities once you bring a little life into this world. It will seem like you can never have enough of either.
My advice in this section is intended as legal advice, but more so things to think about to avoid making mistakes that may cause you to find yourself needing to hire a family law attorney down the road.
It is essential to keep in mind that when you decide to have a child, you or your spouse may need to cut back your hours worked or even change jobs entirely. Again, ensure that you and your spouse talk about these issues before having a child so that there are no problems once your little one is born. Arguments and conflict in an already high-stress environment can lead to a breakdown of your marriage.
Above all else, you should be focusing your attention on your child, not on ancillary issues that could have been resolved well in advance of your child being born.
Financial issues related to divorce
From a financial perspective, it is not uncommon for a stable family to find itself doing a complete 180-degree turn if either you or your spouse files for divorce. Aside from the emotions associated with divorce, your divorce will be a financial transaction.
As crude, crass, or unfair as it seems, that is an inescapable truth from my experience. Whether it is dividing up the property, income, or retirement savings, there are many financial implications connected to your divorce.
Retirement income accrued during your marriage is considered community property in Texas and is therefore subject to division. There are specific requirements for dividing many retirement plans that your attorney can discuss with you. You will need to learn what retirement plans you and your spouse have under your names and the requirements of each plan to divide them upon divorce.
Additionally, if you and your spouse were married for more than ten years, you can apply to receive social security benefits based on your ex-spouse's work record as long as you are single when you use. So long as your ex-spouse is alive, you can collect half of the benefits they are entitled to. You can receive benefits based on your or your ex-spouse's work history- but not both.
More on the financial implications of family law issues to be discussed tomorrow.
Stay tuned with us tomorrow, and we will complete our discussion on family law issues and their potential impact on your life from a financial perspective. After reading our blog today, please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, for a free-of-charge consultation if you have any questions. Our licensed family law attorneys can meet with you to answer questions and discuss your specific circumstances.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's essential to speak with one of our Houston, TX, Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, 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.