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Assessing the impact of Divorce on Finances in Texas

Money fights and money problems are among the most prevalent reasons why people go through divorces. Especially in the past few years, money has been a major concern for most families across our state and country. With the nature of how and where we work has changed since the pandemic some of you reading this blog post may have lost your job or at least seen your location or hours altered. This can be an intimidating prospect to face down: looking at employment changes that can greatly impact your life. 

On top of that, many people delay getting a divorce because they have money concerns. For one, you may be worried that getting a divorce will force you onto the street or the couch of a relative. Losing your home and losing your spouse's income can be a tremendous concern, understandably. If you have worked part-time or been a homemaker for the majority of your marriage, then not only do you not make much money but your job skills and experiences would be limited. This could be because you have children to care for or have stayed home to support your spouse while he works outside the home. 

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to share with you our thoughts about divorce and finances. Not only how your finances will play a role in the divorce but the impact of the divorce on your finances moving forward. If you are interested in learning more about our office, your situation, or the law in Texas related to divorce then I recommend that you contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about your case and how the laws of Texas related to divorce can impact your family.

Finances impact who you will hire to be your lawyer

Different attorneys charge different amounts to represent you in a divorce. Family law attorneys bill by the hour. That means that our office, the attorney across the street, and the one around the corner from where you work will charge you different rates based on several factors. You would hope that an attorney will charge based on prior successes in the world of divorce but that does not always happen. Often you find that the attorney will charge you more based on how expensive it is to rent their office space, how many car payments the lawyer has, and a host of other factors that are not related to you or your family. 

One of the reasons why I think it is so important for you to be able to have a free-of-charge consultation with one of our attorneys is that we can walk you through a contract. When you decide to hire a lawyer, you will sign a contract with him or her. That contract defines the nature of the attorney-client relationship between you and the attorney. There are important pieces of information for you to read. Our office wants you to be able to look through a contract with our office and ask us if you have any questions. 

For today's blog post, you must understand what your rights are as far as paying for us to represent you. This is a situation where we understand that you will be paying money to have a lawyer represent you in the divorce that you are about to go through. We know the sort of responsibility that we owe to you as a client. As a result, you must have a good understanding of how we will bill you and what our attorneys charge on an hourly basis to represent clients in a divorce case. Our team of attorneys represents clients from all backgrounds, walks of life, and situations. We pride ourselves on being able to provide top-notch legal representation to our neighbors here in southeast Texas. We hope that you will investigate the services that our office can provide and then will come on in and talk to one of our attorneys about the possibility of us representing you in your divorce. 

How much money you have, your income, and the stakes of your case will all make a difference in helping you determine who should be representing you in a divorce. If you have very little at stake in the divorce in terms of assets and community property division then you may decide that hiring any attorney out there to represent you in the divorce may make the most sense. At that point, the cost is the most important factor to you. However, if you have minor children or a lot in the way of community property to divide up then it may make more sense for you to spend more money on a lawyer to gain some experience and know-how when it comes to going through a divorce. Learning the tough lessons of divorce is best done before the case starts. Hiring an inexperienced attorney means that you will be paying that lawyer money to learn about divorce through your case. This may be ideal for the lawyer (to be paid while learning) but it is not exactly the best fit for you. 

I would offer to you today that in my opinion, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan offers the best blend of experience, resiliency, practical knowledge, negotiation skills, trial experience, and teaching skills than any other family law attorney in Texas. Bear in mind that our attorneys have the hearts of a teacher. This means that we will spend your case teaching you about what is going on in the case so that you can make better decisions for yourself and your family. If the attorney, you are talking to spends more time talking than listening then you may have a potential problem on your hands.

Finances impact the decisions you make regarding your children

One of the most expensive kinds of cases that you can pursue within a divorce relates to conservatorship fights with your spouse. Conservatorship refers to the rights and duties that you and your spouse share about your children. If you and your spouse do not agree, for example, on who should be named as the primary conservator of your children then this can be a major reason why the costs of your case skyrocket. 

For starters, people who do not agree on this subject tend to go to temporary order hearings and trials more often than any other kind of divorce. Going to court is expensive. You are paying your attorney to not only go to court with you for a hearing or trial that may last for days but you are also paying him or her to prepare each day for trial or hearing. These are costs that can add up quickly. Rather than going to court, the aim of you and your attorney should be to try and negotiate a fair settlement with your spouse on these issues. Settling your case is the best way to save money within the case itself. No, you should not try to settle your case just because it will save you money. However, if you can successfully negotiate a settlement to your case you can avoid the time and money commitments that go into litigation. We also need to mention that you will be missing time at work to attend hearings and/or trials. This hits your bottom line as far as the income side of the equation. 

So, if you do not have the money to pay for a long and drawn-out custody battle with your spouse then you may not want to dispute conservatorship issues quite as strongly. As a father, for example, you may believe that you are the better-suited parent to become the primary conservator of your children after the divorce. If you are barely able to pay for your attorney now, then your chances of being able to hang on and afford to pay for a long custody battle are slim to none. Unfortunately, this is a situation that happens somewhat frequently in divorce cases, especially when two parents have two different budgets in connection with a divorce. 

If you and your spouse disagree on conservatorship, then you may be in for a longer divorce than you would have ordinarily anticipated. The question that we need to ask ourselves is how much time can you spend in your case? What are the issues that are most important to you? Can a trial solve those issues? What are the chances of a judge ordering what you want in the conservatorship area of your case? Ask yourself these questions and then meet with an experienced family law attorney to learn more about them and what your chances are for success in the conservatorship area. 

Finances impact how you and your spouse divide community property

Community is, by and large, the property that you and your spouse acquired during your marriage. With few exceptions, if you bought property during your marriage then this property is called community property. This is an important lesson for you to learn because community property is subject to being divided up during the divorce. This means that the property can be divided and awarded either to you or to your spouse. The other option would be to have the property sold and the funds from the sale divided up between the two of you in some form or fashion. This is what happens frequently when it comes to the sale of a home, for example. Exceptions to the general rule stated herein regarding community property relate to property acquired by gift or inheritance during the divorce. If you inherit a boat from your uncle during your marriage, then that boat would be your separate property. 

Otherwise, you should plan on most of the property in your life being subject to division in the divorce. This is important given that you need to have a strategy on how to divide the property up in your divorce. Going into this subject matter without a plan is a bad idea. Odds are good that your spouse has been thinking long and hard about how to divide up this property and the better-prepared person tends to get their way often. Couple this with how you and your spouse know your circumstances better than a judge and are therefore better equipped to make long-term decisions about the property like this and you have a situation where it is critical for you all to be able to understand these subjects and move forward with a plan on how to divide up the community property. 

The community property laws of Texas do not pertain necessarily to your settlement negotiations. You can indeed use the laws on property division within your negotiations, you do not have to stick to them. Rather, you can and should consider how you want to see the property divided when negotiating with your spouse. Your financial situation will play into how you negotiate for a division of community property. For example, if you have a substantial amount of separate property and your spouse has virtually no separate property then a judge may be more likely to award your spouse a disproportionate (greater than 50% share of your community estate) to your spouse to compensate for their lack of separate property. 

The same can be said for you if you are a high earner with a strong professional work history and a series of good jobs in your working life. Your spouse may be a stay-at-home parent with no education beyond high school which would mean that she would have a leg up on being awarded more than half of your community estate. You may also want to negotiate for more liquid assets in the divorce if you know that you will need an infusion of cash immediately after your divorce comes to an end. Receiving a lot of retirement account money in the divorce may help you in sixty years but it does not exactly help you now.

Your finances after a divorce

Finally, your finances after the divorce can be acutely impacted by the proceedings of the case itself. If you know that you are going to need a leg up financially after the divorce, then you may seek out spousal maintenance or even contractual alimony through the divorce negotiations. Spousal maintenance is a kind of post-divorce spousal support that can be ordered by a judge. Most of the time you and your spouse must be married for at least 10 years for spousal maintenance to be considered. However, exceptions to this rule exist for situations where you are disabled and unable to work, you care for a child who is disabled and unable to work, or if your spouse has been accused and convicted of family violence crimes within the past two years before the divorce. These circumstances would allow you to petition the court for spousal maintenance and be awarded this in a trial.

Next, you need to be able to consider whether you can afford to remain in the family house after the divorce. Many times, parents will want to keep a family home to provide their children with stability and a sense of consistency during a tumultuous period of change like a divorce. However, you need to be realistic about your finances to determine whether you can afford to pay a mortgage on the home without the assistance of your spouse. You can make a bad situation worse by agreeing to pay a mortgage that you do not have the income or separate property to pay for. It may be best for you and your spouse to sell the home and then divide the equity in the home according to the factors that we have outlined in today's blog post.

In any event, the finances of you and your spouse will have a huge impact on your divorce. While this is true across the board for almost every divorce case filed in Texas it is also true that your specific circumstances will play a large role in shaping your divorce strategy both during and after your case. You can learn more about divorce laws in Texas and how they interact with your life from one of the experienced family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, then please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, 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.

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