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Expenses of a Texas Divorce: How they are calculated and the role of attorney's fees

Not only is divorce a fairly expensive process but it takes away resources from that already expensive and time-consuming commitment that we all share called our day to day lives.

If you are considering a divorce and feel yourself badly in need of one I do not tell you that divorce is expensive in order to dissuade you from getting a divorce. I note that divorce is expensive in order to alert you to the fact that if you don’t have your financial house in order a divorce will cause you to do so.

Failing to prioritize your spending based on your circumstances is recipe for a disaster in a divorce. I have seen most people going through a divorce find solace not in their support systems or family but in spending on unnecessary items. First of all this likely goes against the temporary or standing orders in your case- thus placing you in violation of a judge’s orders. Secondly, you are taking your finite resources and spending them on frivolous things.

Use your divorce as an opportunity to constrain your spending, prioritize your goals and set a course for the remainder of the rest of your life. For the time being, consider that your monthly expenses will play a role in your divorce. This is especially true if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on temporary orders and need to proceed to a hearing in front of the judge. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will get into this subject and a few others before the day is through.

Expenses in your divorce

In yesterday’s blog post we discussed how income is calculated and considered in your divorce. Today we will shift gears and discuss what role expenses play in a divorce. When I say expenses I do not necessarily mean only legal expenses- although those are important as well. Expenses for the purposes of your divorce mean the day to day living expenses that we all encounter. Remember- a divorce is a family law case. It centers around the most sensitive and important topics in our lives.

Your attorney will counsel you on the specifics of filling out an expenses sheet that will need to be provided to your spouse and to the court. The more specific that you can be (and the more accurate that you can be) the better off you will be in the long run.

The reason being is that it can be used to help a judge identify the standard of living that you have been accustomed to. It will also identify how much money you would require to operate your household on a monthly basis. Depending on if you will be the spouse who is expected to pay temporary spousal support or receive the support, this can impact you a great deal.

It is not in your best interests to attempt to overestimate your monthly expenses in order to try and get a leg up in negotiations with your spouse. Every line of that document would be discussed in a hearing and the judge will ask you to account for each line item that you submit. If you cannot do so then a judge is likely to disregard that expense item and then look at you with less credibility on this subject.

On the other hand, if your divorce is one that proceeds into mediation (either for final or temporary orders) then your spouse is not the person that you should be exaggerating to when it comes to your household expenses. Doing so would likely cause your spouse to become frustrated and possibly lose interested in negotiating with you further. Be accurate and reasonable in your listed expenses and you can expect to end up in a good position when it is all said and done.

Estimated, actual and proposed expenses

Estimated expenses are those that are based upon what you have actually experienced during the course of your marriage.

You take those previously incurred expenses and project them into the future to provide your spouse with an idea of what you expect your expenses to look like in the future. This is especially helpful in a situation where you believe that you will need spousal maintenance in order to sustain yourself after a divorce has been finalized.

Next, actual expenses are those that are fairly set in stone and not expected to change all that much from year to year. Rent, mortgage payments, some utilities, property taxes and the tuition for your children are examples to consider for actual expenses. Remember that spousal maintenance payments in Texas are limited in terms of duration and amount so projecting costs decades down the line likely will not be fruitful for you.

Finally, the proposed expenses are those expenses that in your married life were not incurred, but because of your divorce will be a part of your new reality. Child care costs jump to mind when discussing this subject. Whereas you may have been at home and able to care for your child during the day or after your child gets home from school you may not be able to now because of the need for you to work full time. Child Support is not intended to pay solely for daycare though you can use your child support to pay for any item related to your child.

What items will need to be presented to a court in terms of monthly expenses

Your family law court will want to see your expenses broken down into a monthly chart so that the costs are more easily understood. The items that we discussed above will all need to be disclosed in all likelihood in addition to internet, cable, insurance costs, food, vehicle-related costs and any other item that is a part of your list of monthly payments.

Failing to present a thorough list of expenses to the court can mean that a particular cost is not accounted for and therefore left unpaid by spousal maintenance. Be sure to meet with your attorney at least one time prior to submitting your expenses log so that you have a chance to go over the list in detail.

Can your spouse be ordered to pay your attorney’s fees?

A comment that I receive quite a bit from clients is that because the divorce is not their idea or that because their spouse caused the divorce to happen due to their infidelity and bad behavior, that their spouse should be made to pay the attorney.

If your spouse has an ability to pay your attorney’s fees and you display a lack of wherewithal to do so then you may be in a strong position to ask for and receive an award for attorney’s fees and court costs. If you and your spouse are in similar financial situations then your position is weakened.

How is credibility related to disclosure of expenses?

You are playing the “long game” in a divorce. This means that you cannot focus on what is happening that day or even the following week. Rather, you are ultimately building the strength of your case for a final push in the trial- if you need to go that route. A judge is relying on your honesty and candor when it comes to stating your income and expenses.

Provide your attorney with all of the information needed to be fully honest and a judge should have no problems believing you to be an honest person.

Technology and divorce to be discussed in tomorrow’s blog post

If you are interested in how your digital life influences your real-world divorce then head back to our blog tomorrow. We will discuss the potential impacts of your online presence on your divorce in detail.

If you have any questions for the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC please do not hesitate to contact us today. We offer free of charge consultations with our licensed family law attorneys six days a week. We would love to hear from you and look forward to being able to serve you and your family.

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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring, 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 important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact 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 Spring, 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.

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