Your Guide to Alimony as a Small Business Owner

Taking on the tremendous challenge of being a small business owner while managing the complex stand emotionally taxing process of a divorce is not easy. Owning a small business in and of itself is probably one of the greatest challenges that you could choose to take on in your life. On top of that, going through a divorce from your spouse and everything that comes with this process only adds to the difficult nature of owning a small business. Many people see their small businesses suffer during a divorce for several reasons. Your goal should be to take care of business in the divorce so that you can take care of your business outside of the divorce.

That little saying may sound fun and breezy in a blog post environment, but the reality of the situation is that you may not have a plan in place to do either of those things. As someone who operates a small business, you know how important it is to have a plan before engaging in anything new. For instance, you probably would not want to launch a new product or service in your business without having given quite a bit of thought to doing so first. without testing the product or service in the marketplace, asking customers their feelings, or determining a cost for the product before you begin to produce it would mean that you could lead your business into difficult circumstances. Having to go back and correct mistakes associated with not having a plan only adds insult to injury.

Rather, it is a much wiser decision to consider your options and to think ahead in terms of planning to position yourself well when it comes to a new product or service. The same applies to your divorce. If you go into your divorce without a plan, then the odds are good that you will suffer the consequences for not having done so. While many people look at a divorce as something they would prefer not to ever have to engage in, the reality is that sometimes we don’t get choices about the trials we have in our lives. With that said, you can truly benefit yourself, your business, and your family by having a plan before the divorce.

Planning a divorce as a small business owner

Small business owners go through the same stages of divorce as anyone else. The main difference is that as a small business owner you have a few more factors to consider. On a practical level, your income is variable from month to month. While there may be some of you reading this blog post who have consistent incomes monthly due to the nature of your work most of you likely have variable incomes based on several economic factors. The fact is that your income cannot afford to dip during the divorce. Your bills will still come in and you will still have your typical responsibilities to contend with period therefore, you need to be able to figure out how you are going to manage your divorce and take care of your business all at the same time.

From my experience, the best way for you to do this is to develop a plan or strategy and then work to see that plan into action. If you have never gone through a divorce before then it would make a lot of sense for you to work with the person who has. For example, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan have a level of experience that is unsurpassed among Southeast Texas family law attorneys. We have A team of lawyers that worked collaboratively on cases with your best interests in mind as a client. If you want to go from a person who knows nothing about divorce and is worried about your case to a person who feels confident in moving forward no matter what circumstances may come your way, then it is a great idea for you to contact our office.

Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week at our three Houston area locations, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. Reach out to us today and you can begin your journey towards gaining knowledge and learning more about what being represented by our attorneys can mean for you, your family, and your business in a divorce case.

What I like to tell people about divorce is that it is very possible to wander into a divorce, but it is very difficult to wander out of a divorce and accomplish any of your goals. Having your main goal in a divorce to be getting the case over with is not doing yourself any favors. Rather, you can and should develop specific, actionable goals. That means goals that you can set into motion and see accomplished over time. What that means for your case may be very different than what that means for your neighbors’ case and vice versa. However, beginning to think about goal setting and appropriate goals for your case is a great place to begin in a divorce.

Unfortunately, if your spouse has already filed for divorce from you then you do not have the luxury of taking as much time as you would like to come up with goals and brainstorm in that way. Rather, you have a deadline in front of you as far as responding to a divorce petition and possibly collecting evidence to attend a temporary orders hearing, mediation, or respond to discovery. There is an even greater sense of urgency that you should have as far as performing all those steps and developing a strategy and goal-oriented plan for your case.

All the while, your business will need to continue to produce an income for yourself and your family. While it may feel like the entire world has come to a halt due to your divorce the reality is that your life will continue no matter what else is happening. Your customers, the mortgage company in any other persons in your life who rely upon you don’t care as much about your divorce as you do. While that may sound harsh it is the reality of the situation. For that reason, you need to be intentional as possible and two get done what you must as far as your business and your divorce are concerned.

If you are the type of person who struggles with time management and finding enough hours in the day to get done what you need to then a divorce is only going to add to this issue. The pace of your life may seem to take on a breakneck speed due to the time commitments of a divorce as well as the other factors in your life. To keep your life from seeming like it is spiraling out of control I recommend you get on the phone and contact our office today. Not having a plan is a bad idea in a divorce. You know this is true from being a small business owner the same applies to your divorce case. Rather, you can take the steps necessary to contact our office, meet with one of our attorneys and ask questions. Once you learn more about our office you can decide whether you want to take us on as your attorney. The difference between proceeding into a divorce as a small business owner with one of our attorneys versus another option can be significant.

Contractual alimony and spousal maintenance in a Texas divorce

The basics of this subject are that there are two different types of post-divorce spousal support in Texas. The two types are spousal maintenance and contractual alimony. What it means to be awarded either of these types of post-divorce spousal support is quite different. To begin with, spousal maintenance can only be awarded by a family court judge after a divorce trial. On the other hand, contractual alimony can only be negotiated upon by you and your spouse and agreed to either in mediation or informal settlement negotiations.

Spousal maintenance is typically arrived at when you and your spouse cannot agree on a big year for contractual alimony or simply do not agree that post-divorce spousal maintenance is necessary. A family court judge would consider a range of factors and whether you or your spouse would be unable to meet your minimum basic needs after the divorce. So long as the other spouse can pay spousal maintenance then a figure could be awarded. That monthly amount of spousal maintenance could only be awarded if all the factors are met, and you and your spouse had been married for at least 10 years.

Although spousal maintenance takes a trial for it to be awarded, the benefit of spousal maintenance is that it is enforceable by the court judge. For example, if you and your spouse have a relationship where he pays you spousal maintenance after the divorce and then he does not comply with the order you would have the ability to file an enforcement case against him to bring your matter before the judge. In an enforcement case regarding spousal maintenance, you would specify the specific violations of the order, site the language contained in your order and then be able to present an argument as to why relief is necessary. A judge would have a range of options available when it comes to punishment including finding him in contempt of court and even ordering jail time in extreme situations.

On the other hand, contractual alimony can be arrived at much more simply through settlement negotiations with your Co-parent. We see that these settlement negotiations can oftentimes help you and your spouse arrive at a number for contractual alimony that is based on the specific circumstances that you face. Whereas spousal maintenance would be limited to 20% of your spouse’s gross monthly income, there is no such limitation on contractual alimony. Additionally, even if you and your spouse have been not married for 10 years at least you can still negotiate for contractual alimony. As with anything else within the settlement negotiations you and your spouse can consider your specific circumstances and make decisions based on what is in your best interests.

However, that’s not to say that there are no risks associated with negotiating for contractual alimony versus spousal maintenance. Although it is a risk to go to trial to be awarded spousal maintenance it is also a risk to negotiate for contractual alimony in settlement negotiations. The most significant risk is that if your spouse fails to pay, they agreed to the amount of contractual alimony in the future the judge has fewer remedies available when it comes to holding your spouse accountable for their failure to pay. This includes not being able to hold your spouse in contempt of court.

additionally, suppose that you and your spouse had agreed to an amount of contractual alimony that goes well beyond what would have been allowable under spousal maintenance statutes. In that case, a judge could potentially only enforce your contractual alimony orders to the point where he or she would have been able to enforce spousal maintenance. Additionally, it is contract law that governs the enforcement of contractual alimony. This is since contractual alimony is a contract between you and your spouse rather than anything falling under the Texas family code.

How does the post of or spousal maintenance impact you as a business owner?

The amount of spousal maintenance that may be ordered by a family court judge can differ a great deal depending upon the circumstances of your case. Remember that it is the minimum, basic needs of you or your spouse that must be the benchmark for awarding spousal maintenance. In that case, what your minimum basic needs are can differ dramatically from another person. As a result, you will need to look at your budget and truly determine whether you need spousal maintenance. It would be a mistake to proceed to a trial on this subject only to find that the judge disagrees that you cannot meet your minimum basic needs with the income or assets that you own.

The next factor that I would look to when it comes to spousal maintenance and you as a small business owner would be related to the calculation of your income. When I think of a small business center tend to think about you as someone whose income can be dramatically different from month to month. We have already talked about how your income may change based on several factors beyond your control period, for example, if you own a business working in landscaping then you may do much more work in the spring and fall than in the winter and summer. As a result, for six months out of the year, your income may be much lower than other times of the year. However, at least in this example, you would be able to better anticipate the dips and increases in your income based on seasons past.

The income that you have will depend upon the product or service that you offer the public. For example, if you work as a small business owner in a restaurant situation then you may be able to become profitable rather quickly. Finding a market for your food, advertising, and then finding consistent clientele is what it takes to become a profitable restaurant. If you can survive the first few months of operating a restaurant, then the odds are decent that you will become profitable and be able to draw on income from your work period this is as opposed to running a technology startup whose income is much more difficult to quantify and whose profits may be in question for years and to running your operation.

No matter what kind of business you operate, how long you have been in operation, or any other factor associated with the business you need to be able to accurately predict and estimate your income from month to month period this is important not only when it comes to your divorce and spousal maintenance but also for planning out your post-divorce life from a budget perspective. An inexperienced family law attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can help you perform these steps in your divorce and you can use that information to help you plan for your future life once the divorce comes to an end.

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