Maintaining solid relationships with your children during a divorce or child custody case and determining what sort of financial commitment your Texas family case will cost are two of the most frequently asked questions that I receive. This is with good reason. A family court case involves children and money, almost exclusively. There are very few relevant issues in your case other than these two. Today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will seek to provide you with some guidance on these subjects.
Money concerns about family law cases
Almost every person wants to know the same things associated with a family law case: how much will the case cost? How much child support will I be responsible for paying? The flip side to this question relates to how much child support you will be receiving. Other considerations center around health insurance, spousal support, and contractual alimony. The bottom line is that people in your position are frequently concerned that their family law case (usually a divorce) will end up ruining them from a financial perspective.
Let's talk first about how much it costs to hire a family law attorney to represent you in your case. The overall cost of your case depends mainly on you and your opposing party. If you and your spouse are not communicating at all and have no desire to do so, it means that your case will likely take longer to complete. The more time needed to be devoted to a family law case means that more money will need to be spent.
The specific subject matter is that you are in disagreement with your spouse about issues. If your significant disagreements center around who gets the silverware, then your case can likely be resolved quickly. If your considerable disagreements center around your children, then you probably have a more extended case on your hands. If you and your spouse are willing to compromise and meet one another halfway on any issues that need to be sorted out, then your case is not going to be a marathon-length nightmare that your friends have warned you about.
Finally, issues like medical support and spousal support may be relevant in your case. These are factors that many people do not consider in the lead-up to their case. Keep in mind that the better prepared your attorney is to help you, the better shape you will be in. You can work to tell your attorney about relevant information at the beginning of your relationship with them. You can also save money by organizing materials that your attorney asks you for. If you leave that responsibility to your attorney or their staff, you will end up paying for services that you could have done yourself.
What happens to your credit as a result of a divorce?
When it comes to divorce cases specifically, it is easy to imagine a scenario where your credit score takes a hit. You may have started your divorce with having no credit score to speak of. Taking out loans or spending on credit may have been something you never had to explore. Once you find yourself involved in a family law case, your income will be stretched to an extent, and you can find yourself needing to rely on credit cards and loans to pay your bills and even pay your attorney.
Decision-making in a family case carries with it a potential financial impact.
For each decision you make in conjunction with your family law case, there is a certain amount of financial impact inherent in doing so. One of the first questions you will need to ask yourself when it comes to a child custody or divorce case is whether or not you will want to hire an attorney to represent you.
Think about what is at stake in your case and the circumstances you find yourself in. If you believe that you will not gain enough of an advantage or enough benefit from hiring an attorney, likely, you will not do so. People hire attorneys because they are not legal experts and believe that their benefit from hiring an attorney will outweigh the financial costs associated with doing so.
You must understand what is at stake in your family case and how you can achieve your goals. Going to court or negotiating with an opposing attorney is not as simple as you may think. Indeed, the field of work that you are engaged in has subtleties that take time to learn. The same can be said of the legal world. Leaving these sorts of things to chance by not hiring a lawyer may save you money in the short term but will almost certainly cost you much money in the long run.
If you decide to hire an attorney, you need to put forth a great deal of effort into that relationship to get your money's worth. Look for an attorney who you believe reflects your values and offers you the best opportunity to reach a timely and fair resolution with your opposing party. It may be necessary for your case to go all the way to a trial. However, consider that most cases settle in informal settlement negotiations or mediation. Hiring an attorney who understands how vital negotiation is essential to your escaping from your family law case.
I have seen many family law cases where the parties have worked out an agreement between themselves wind up in court because the other attorney did not believe the deal to be fair or equitable. I will admit that those informal agreements often do need to have some specifics worked out. However, if you and your spouse settle your case informally, it is not a good sign if your attorney attempts to void that agreement over issues that are not important to you. This is your case, after all. You are the final decision maker regarding what is and what is not essential.
You are maintaining your relationship with your kids during a family law case.
Probably the most frustrating circumstance associated with a family case involves the other parent withholding your children from being able to visit with you. Being in a position where you would do anything to see your children but having an unwilling parent on the other side is enough to drive a person to file a family law case.
Other circumstances that can lead to filing a family case are if you are the primary caretaker for your kids and you are not receiving any financial assistance from their other parent. Whether you live with your child, you owe them a duty of financial care and support. If you and your significant other split up and are not helping to support your child, you have the right to initiate a child support case to remedy that situation.
Still, other situations that involve your relationship with your child are related to your desire to spend more time with them. Maybe you are operating under a prior court order where you were only given weekend visitation with your kids. Now you find yourself in a position where you are working in a job with more flexibility with your schedule. Or, your children may have voiced a desire to live with you primarily instead of your ex-spouse.
Your children must have access to both you and their other parents. The whole family law system in Texas is based upon the premise that children are more likely to thrive when exposed to both parents. Your kids seek attention and love from both of their parents. Your ability to return that love and affection is as essential to their upbringing as any other factor in their lives. A resolution with your spouse on how to divide up time with your children can be among the most critical factors in saving time and money in a family law case.
Will the debt be a relevant factor in your child custody or divorce case?
Maybe the least discussed, yet most important, a topic that I can think of in conjunction with divorces is debt. The way it works out in Texas is that you may become responsible for the debts incurred by your spouse. You want to minimize your exposure to your spouse's obligations, especially if those debts are entirely unrelated to you.
Deciding how to divide debt up in your divorce can be just as important as determining how to divide up property in your divorce. Obligations can come in all shapes and sizes. From the smallest credit card debt to a home mortgage, you need to know what deficits exist in your name and your spouse's. I recommend that clients pull a copy of their credit report early on in the case. This way, you can know exactly what credit accounts are in your name without any surprises popping up at the end of your case.
Another critical issue but not often considered is what will happen to your mortgage after your divorce. For example, suppose that you agree to leave the family home and your wife agrees to take over the mortgage payments in exchange for being awarded the house in your divorce. This all sounds fine and dandy until you begin to consider what can happen if your ex-spouse falls behind on the mortgage. If that mortgage bears your name, you will be taking a hit to your credit- no matter what the divorce decree says.
This is because your divorce decree does not impact your loan with the lending company. You can agree to whatever you want with your spouse in the divorce, but that will not necessarily affect how any lender treats your loan. What you agreed to with them years ago when you took out your loan will still be controlling- not what is contained in your final orders. You will need to have a plan to remove your name from the mortgage, and if that is not a possibility (as with a refinance), you need to have a backup plan to handle future missed mortgage payments by your ex-spouse.
Credit cards that allow your spouse to be an authorized user and even cars titled to you but used by your soon-to-be ex-spouse are other concerns related to debt that may arise in your divorce case. Do you know how to handle these situations? Does your attorney? Ask yourself these questions before your divorce even begins so that you can wisely choose an attorney to represent you.
Issues of safety and family law cases will be discussed in tomorrow's blog post.
In tomorrow's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we will discuss topics that center around your safety and that of your children. As much as I would like this not to be the case, family law cases frequently involve issues regarding family violence, child abuse, and generally hot tempers. Learning how to keep yourself and your kids safe during a family case is of the utmost importance, as a result.
If you have any questions about the material that we covered in today's blog post or are seeking clarification on any other subject in Texas family law, 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. These consultations are an excellent opportunity to have your questions answered and issues addressed by an attorney with experience working with people in situations just like yours.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's essential to speak with one of our Houston, TX, Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.