Every divorce case is unique, and if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement regarding the home, a judge will evaluate the specific circumstances. The presence of children plays a pivotal role in this evaluation. The judge will aim to provide stability and consistency for your children amidst the turmoil of divorce. Whether you anticipate receiving spousal maintenance or worry about having to pay it, understanding this aspect of divorce is likewise crucial.
If one of you can afford the mortgage on a single income and is awarded primary custody of the children, that individual is likely to have a stronger claim to keeping the family home. The judge will prioritize the well-being of the children in making this decision.
However, if neither party can manage the mortgage payments, the judge is likely to order the sale of the house, with the proceeds divided between you and your spouse, considering the principles of community property.
An alternative approach, which some judges may consider, is to grant one parent the right to reside in the family home until the children graduate from high school or another fair date. Afterward, the house would be sold, and the proceeds divided according to the judge’s instructions. This approach provides stability for the children while ensuring both parents benefit from the home’s sale.
Examining Spousal Maintenance
Spousal maintenance involves one spouse providing financial support to the other for basic living expenses when the recipient cannot meet those needs independently. This situation may arise due to disability, lack of education, or a prolonged absence from the workforce.
Consider this scenario: you are a physician earning $250,000 annually, while your spouse has been a homemaker with only a high school education. She worked part-time as a waitress to support herself through your medical school. In this case, paying spousal maintenance is not only justifiable but also a recognition of her contribution to your career. It can be seen as a way to repay her for supporting your education.
How Common Is Spousal Maintenance in Texas Divorces?
In my experience, spousal maintenance is not frequently ordered. Judges are cautious about awarding it, reserving it for cases where it is deemed necessary for fairness and survival. Additionally, spousal maintenance is less common today because many spouses have similar education and earning potential.
Child Custody in Texas Divorces
After delving into property and financial matters, it’s time to address the vital issue of child custody.
While the term “child custody” is not explicitly used in the Texas family code, it encompasses several rights and responsibilities, including determining the child’s primary residence, making decisions on education, healthcare, and other important matters.
One common concern is whether wives have an advantage in custody disputes. It’s essential to understand that the law does not favor one gender over the other. Judges are expected to make custody decisions based on merit and the child’s best interests. Fathers should not assume they are at a disadvantage; rather, both parents must present evidence supporting their suitability as primary caregivers.
In tomorrow’s blog post, we will delve deeper into this topic, exploring how parents can navigate child custody disputes effectively.
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Bryan Fagan, a native of Atascocita, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney inspired by John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.” He is the first lawyer in his family, which includes two adopted brothers. Bryan’s commitment to family is personal and professional; he cared for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s while completing his degree and attended the South Texas College of Law at night.
Married with three children, Bryan’s personal experiences enrich his understanding of family dynamics, which is central to his legal practice. He specializes in family law, offering innovative and efficient legal services. A certified member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Bryan is part of an elite group of legal professionals committed to ongoing education and high-level expertise.
His legal practice covers divorce, custody disputes, property disputes, adoption, paternity, and mediation. Bryan is also experienced in drafting marital property agreements. He leads a team dedicated to complex family law cases and protecting families from false CPS allegations.
Based in Houston, Bryan is active in the Houston Family Law Sector of the Houston Bar Association and various family law groups in Texas. His deep understanding of family values and his professional dedication make him a compassionate advocate for families navigating Texas family law.