Divorce is complex. There are intensely individual components to divorce which make the process heart-wrenching. You are separating, legally and figuratively, from your life partner and the stability which marriage can instill in our lives. All of the equity you have built up in that relationship with that person will be destroyed in a matter of months. The most challenging part is that one of you is asking the State of Texas to make it so.
On the other hand, you have divorce's practical/financial components. You will no longer be living with your spouse, so you need to ask yourself where you will live. Should you stay at home? Can you afford to stay in the home without your spouse's income? You've worked hard throughout your life to save up for retirement- one that you assumed would include your spouse. Now that you are getting a divorce, you may be thinking about where all the retirement savings will go. Will you have anything to show for your years of frugality and planning once your divorce is done?
Learning is the most important thing you can do for yourself before a divorce.
I imagine that some attorneys would tell you that the best thing to do when you find yourself in a vulnerable position is to go on the offensive and fight back. To some degree, this is true, but not before you take the necessary steps to learn as much as you can about divorce in Texas and the implications of all of the circumstances of your particular case on the processes and laws surrounding divorce in our state.
Understanding the law and how your case is likely to fit within the confines of the law allows you to operate with a level of confidence that you could not possess otherwise. If you are confident in the facts of your case, you can be confident in making decisions, and yes, in advocating for yourself and your rights.
Divorce is complex- I think you may have read that at some point in your life (maybe just a few paragraphs earlier). That doesn't mean that you need to understand and know every issue regarding divorce in Texas. You don't even need to know everything there is to know about your spouse. You need to know basic concepts and likely outcomes based on your case. Having an experienced family law attorney by your side to assist you during this process is one of the most important aspects of divorce.
Today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will introduce the topic of financial planning in anticipation of divorce. Specifically- the steps that you can take on your own before you even hire an attorney to prepare, what property is subject to division in a Texas divorce, and how it is likely to be divided up is also relevant and will be discussed. While there is no surefire way to ensure that no missteps or errors in judgment will be made in your case, thoughtful planning and constant learning are essential to minimizing wrong turns.
Where will my/their/our property end up after the divorce?
Maybe the most frequently asked question regarding the personal finances of potential clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, is where the person's property will end once the divorce is all said and done. Will they be able to keep their retirement account? Will it be divided? What about the retirement savings of their spouse? How will that be divided (if at all)? These are all valid questions to ask, of course. You want to know the ending to the story and eliminate any fears or concerns about getting to that endpoint.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you (nor can any attorney, for that matter) exactly how your divorce is going to end up. There are just too many circumstances and factors that will weigh on your divorce that nobody can predict with 100% accuracy. With that said, we can provide you with some additional information that can help guide you in the right direction. For instance, if your divorce is uncontested, your property and that of your spouse may be divided up by the two of you with no intervention from the court. This means that there can be no outstanding issues regarding property division. Questions about how to classify property as either community property or separate property need to have been answered by this stage. If you and your spouse have children, you can have disputes as to the kids and end up in a trial, but if you have settled all issues related to the property, then much of the financial
planning in your case is done on an uncontested
However, if you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide your property, then a court may have to insert itself into your situation to solve the dispute. Let's break down how property is classified in Texas and the effects on your divorce case.
Community property is all property you and your spouse acquired during your marriage. Exceptions to this rule are for the property you inherited from deceased relatives or property you owned before your marriage. In Texas, there is a presumption that all property owned by two spouses is considered community property, so you should be prepared to prove to a judge that a piece of property is your separate property if it is a disputed fact in your divorce case.
Speak to your family law attorney before negotiating on this subject so that you can prepare a game plan as to how you see the property in your marriage being divided up. If you need to organize your paperwork to show title in your name only for a home, boat, or another piece of property, you ought to do so, as well.
Just and Right division of marital property.
The State of Texas will attempt to arrive at an equitable (fair) division of whatever property is ultimately deemed as community property. This means that the circumstances of your case will be evaluated to determine the best way to divide property that both you and your spouse have a claim to. The degree to which your employment earnings contributed to the purchase of the specific item, as well as the future needs of each spouse, will be determined by your judge.
Create a checklist to determine what is relevant in your life
No two divorces are created equal. Even if your attorney is highly experienced in family law (which they should be if you hire them to represent you), they have never seen a case quite like yours. Help your attorney compile a list that details what you believe to be the most critical issues in your case. Whether it is considerations regarding your or your spouse's business interests, health insurance concerns, tax questions about divorce, or the implications of divorce on your retirement, create a list and discuss it with your lawyer. Do not expect your lawyer to have the ability to read your mind about what is essential in your case.
More information on the financial components of divorce is to be posted tomorrow.
If you have any immediate questions about how personal finances impact divorce cases, please get in touch with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free consultations six days a week with a licensed family law provider.
Thank you for taking an interest in the topic of personal finances and divorce. Tomorrow we will discuss the topic of credit and its effect on people like yourself who are going through the divorce process. Utilizing credit intelligently is essential in making it out of your divorce in a solid financial position.