You likely have many concerns that will come across during a Texas divorce case. After all, the stakes are high in a divorce, even if you don't have any children or much in the way of property. Simply hiring a lawyer, filing a lawsuit, and ending a marriage of any length is enough to feel like there is a burden upon your shoulders. If you feel the stress of an upcoming divorce, I want you to know that you are not alone. Many people are reading this blog post today that are in similar circumstances as you. Just like you, these folks feel stressed out, apprehensive about the future in the question of how they're going to manage to get through a difficult divorce case.
There are ways for you to make it through a divorce and succeed and accomplish goals while involved in the process. A Point I make to people when it comes to getting divorced is that the goal of your case should not simply be to make it out in one piece or end your marriage. Just about everyone who begins a divorce case will end up getting divorced at some point. The difference between getting divorced on someone else's terms and getting divorced on your terms is a world of difference.
That is where proper planning and diligent effort come into play; when you become intentional about near divorce and begin to come up with goals for the case, that is when you can take advantage of your circumstances and make the best out of a bad situation. I am not here to tell you that you can suddenly turn a divorce into the greatest experience of your life. That would be silly. However, you can and should take the process seriously and devote time and effort towards being intentional about your case.
That begins and ends with hiring the right attorney for your case. If you were not aware, there is no requirement in the Texas family code for you to hire an attorney to represent you in your divorce. Many, if not most, people do hire attorneys to help them get through a divorce process. If you would like specific information about why I believe people should hire an attorney for divorce, then you can spend some time on our blog reading through dozens of posts that relate to the advantages of hiring an experienced divorce attorney for your divorce case. Suffice it to say, however, accomplishing meaningful goals in a divorce is greatly helped when you have an attorney by your side.
Almost without question, the number one goal and the number one concern, but most people going through a divorce have to do with finances. This is true because not every divorce case involves children, but every divorce involves some degree of the property is divided up between spouses after a case. Instinctively, even if you didn't know anything else about a divorce, you likely know this to be the case. You need to ask yourself what you can do to prepare for success in a divorce, financially speaking.
Notably, I am thinking about if you are in a situation where you have been a stay-at-home parent or spouse for many years and are now finding yourself in need of an income, given that you and your spouse are living in separate households. While it sounds nice to say that you should take this opportunity to return to school, earn a certification, or 10 some vocational training as a means to distract yourself from the divorce, I realize that this may not be feasible for many parents. Likewise, even if you do not have children, you may lack the resources to go back to school or complete a certification to further yourself professionally.
The question remains then, what can you do to keep your head above water from a financial perspective during a Texas divorce? You haven't worked in many years or ever are there options for you when it comes to ensuring that your 4 walls are maintained, your children have plenty to eat, and that you can have some breathing room in your budget while you attempt to sort out all of the issues inherent in a divorce case?
Fortunately, there are mechanisms set up through the Texas family courts that would allow for you to be protected in this type of situation. Namely, I am referencing temporary spousal support, spousal maintenance, and contractual alimony. These are different forms of financial assistance that can be paid to you by your spouse after a divorce if you have a proven financial need; when it comes to having to prove a financial need, that gets back to our prior discussion about the advantage of having an attorney by your side to represent you.
In today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, I would like to discuss what it means to request and have granted spousal support to you during a divorce and spousal support after a divorce. Like anything else in family law, there is a process for achieving your goals; you know, I would like to go over acquiring temporary spousal support and spousal maintenance and contractual alimony after the conclusion of a divorce.
While there are no two divorces exactly alike, I can tell you from experience that the types of arguments in evidence that are necessary and effective in a circumstance where spousal support may be needed are common across many different types of divorce cases. For that reason, I think there is a great deal of merit in sharing this type of information with you all in today's blog post. However, if you have additional questions at the end of today's blog or face unique circumstances that were not outlined in today's blog post, I highly recommend that you reach out to one of our attorneys.
The experienced family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan offer free of charge consultations six days a week. These consultations are a great opportunity for you to learn about the world of Texas family law and what a divorce can look like for your family, and how your family's circumstances may change temporarily due to the firing of this type of case. With that straight, let's talk about special support during and after a Texas divorce case.
Temporary spousal support
From a personal financial situation and perspective, the most significant aspect of divorce in this area of your life will be that your household income will decrease, at least temporarily, due to your divorce. It could be that you are the primary breadwinner in your family, and as a result, you are responsible for paying the bills and keeping the lights on in the house. That's the case will likely be the one paying spousal support rather than receiving it. For today's blog post, I will write about this subject as if you are a parent or spouse who has not worked in some time or has perhaps never worked outside of the house. If you find yourself in that type of situation where your household budget is about to undergo a significant change, what are your options for keeping your head above water financially during your divorce?
Probably the first step towards determining your actual needs when it comes to finances during a divorce is to create a brand new budget for your family. For some of you, this will mean updating a budget that has already been created and that you and your family have been living off of. On the other hand, your family may never have been keen to budget to plan for the future financially. As a result, this may require you to think about these subjects for the first time. If this is true, you will need to learn how to budget and develop a strategy for overtime.
The cost of hiring an attorney, the possible need to pay for childcare for the first time during a divorce, and any costs associated with applying for jobs are all part and parcel of getting a divorce. These are costs that almost certainly were not a part of your budget before your divorce. Therefore, we need to develop a strategy for getting organized and getting organized quickly when paying for these items. Once you have done so, you will have a good idea of your financial needs every month.
Should you be unable to provide for your minimal monthly needs based on your income, then it is likely that you will need to request spousal maintenance at least temporarily. The most significant factor in this discussion would be that your spouse has to have the ability to pay for the special maintenance. As the old saying goes, you cannot get blood out of a turnip. This means that if your spouse does not have money in the budget to spare, then no matter how much you beg or how effective your arguments are, a judge will not award you special maintenance. This is true either on a temporary or permanent basis after divorce comes to a close.
Coming up with a budget during your divorce is also important from the perspective of if you expect to go to temporary orders hearing to ask a judge to award you temporary spousal support. You will need to show what your income is effectively and what the outgo is each month. You cannot expect to walk into a temporary orders hearing and ask for money and expect that money to be given to you. Rather, you need to have a detailed budget provided to your opposing party and the judge. At that time, a judge would be able to assess your specific need or temporary spousal support and determine if your spouse can pay you temporary spousal support.
An additional factor to bear in mind is that the spousal support you receive temporarily during your divorce is not intended to maintain a certain lifestyle. Rather, the spousal support you would receive would be awarded only to meet your minimal financial needs every month. This is a significant factor for you to bear in mind. It may cause you to begin to make some adjustments to your lifestyle, if only temporarily. Even if you are fortunate enough to be awarded temporary spousal support, the amount of money that you receive could be rather small considering what your lifestyle has been like to that point.
All in all, temporary spousal support is somewhat easier to negotiate for in mediation for temporary orders and is also somewhat easier to be ordered by a court in a temporary order hearing. On the other hand, having a court award you spousal maintenance or being able to negotiate for contractual alimony after the divorce may prove to be significantly more difficult. This is due not only to the circumstances of your case but also to the proclivity of family court judges in Texas not to award spousal maintenance unless it is necessary.
Spousal maintenance and contractual alimony
In Texas, there are two types of special support that you may be eligible for after your divorce comes to an end. The first is spousal maintenance. A court orders spousal maintenance after a divorce trial. Again, if you prove that you have a significant financial need and cannot meet your minimal bills every month with your income or from the Community property awarded to you in the divorce, then a judge may be able to issue an award for special maintenance. Typically, 20% of your spouse's gross income per month can be paid to you in spousal maintenance.
On the other hand, contractual alimony can be achieved in a mediation setting where you negotiate post-divorce spousal support. In a situation where you are merely negotiating on the subject, it is even more important for you to have an attorney and be prepared to present evidence as to why contractual alimony is needed in your case. If your spouse is not convinced that it is, they may believe that the risk is worth taking to see what a judge would have to say on the subject. As a result, you need to be very clear and detailed about why you believe spousal maintenance would be ordered in a trial and why your spouse is better off agreeing to some degree of contractual alimony in mediation.
There are limits on the length of time a court judge can award you special maintenance. First of all, you and your spouse must have been married at least ten years for spousal maintenance of any kind to be ordered. An exception to this rule would be if you have a disability that prevents you from working, you are the primary caretaker for a child who has a disability, and due to this, you are unable to work, or you have been the victim of family violence within the past two years.
Otherwise, those of you who were married for less than 10 years should not expect a family court judge to be able to avoid use council maintenance. Generally speaking, the longer you have married means, the longer the judge can award you special maintenance. Even still, family court judges are limited in terms of how long I know special maintenance can be ordered in a divorce trial. Even for marriages that are 40 years in length or longer, you may be hard-pressed to see a family court judge order maintenance that lasts longer than 10 years.
Simply put, most family court judges are not overly eager to award spousal maintenance in a divorce. A judge will be much more likely to award you a disproportionate share of your Community property not to obligate your spouse to pay you special millions after a divorce. In certain courts, in certain circumstances, these trends may be changing; this is a general rule that I will advise clients on. As a result, you need to be squared away as far as what case you will make as to why special maintenance is needed in a divorce trial.
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