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The wide ranging financial impacts of a divorce in Texas

It is not just your retirement savings or business interests that can be affected financially in a divorce.

What you will learn quickly in a divorce is that the areas of your life are interconnected to one another in more ways than you may think. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will center around the varied impacts of divorce on your financial life.

Child Support

A court will mandate that child support be paid in your divorce to ensure that whichever parent receives the support is able to provide a basic lifestyle for your children. If you are the parent who will not have the right to determine the primary residence of your children this is likely a responsibility that will fall on your shoulders.

At the beginning of your divorce, you will be asked by your attorney to fill out various forms that disclose your financial status. Your spouse will be asked to do the same in order to determine the relative strength (or weakness) of your financial lives. As with any other statement that you will be making to a judge it is essential that you be truthful above all else when disclosing your income sources.

Child Support is actually a fairly cut and dry subject in Texas, in many regards. Your net monthly income will be determined and a percentage will be applied against that income based on how many children you are responsible for. One child before the court means that 20 percent of your net monthly income will go towards child support. Two children are 25%, three is 30% and so on up to at the most fifty percent of your net monthly income going towards the support of your children.

The devil, as they say, is in the details when it comes to child support. While it may seem straightforward to calculate child support in terms of percentages, it is the net monthly income that takes some diligence in order to calculate.

If you have multiple sources of income- such as from investments, business interests, etc.- in addition to your weekly job then you and your spouse may have different ideas about what should and what should not be taken into consideration.

Keep in mind that whatever the circumstances are in your particular family that a judge would order child support in order to provide your children with a comparable level of living in both homes once your divorce is finalized. As your family has been split in two that means that your family’s income has been split as well. This not only can mean difficulty in paying bills, but it can be difficult for your children as well.

Spousal Maintenance

Despite what many people think, just because you have been married for an extended period of time in Texas does not mean that you are entitled to spousal maintenance as a result. The purpose of having spousal maintenance be ordered in Texas is to help ensure that the spouse who receives the maintenance has the financial wherewithal to support themselves for a certain period of time after the divorce.

As with child support, you and your spouse will be expected to submit estimates about your financial states including income, bills, debts, assets, etc. if your case actually goes before a judge. Spousal maintenance payments are limited to twenty percent of the payor spouse’s monthly income.

A common scenario that leads to spousal maintenance being justified and eventually ordered is if you are a spouse who is staying at home mother who for decades tended the home and cared for children while your spouse went out and earned a significant living for your family.

Your spouse’s advanced education, earning capacity and wealth leave him in a much stronger future position than you. Your sacrifices allowed him to earn his income and you supported him along the way. Depending on the length of your marriage (as long as it was longer than ten years) you will be entitled to specific time periods of spousal maintenance. There is always a specific amount of monthly spousal maintenance that is ordered and a specific duration for the spousal maintenance to be paid.

Courts in Texas may also consider your age and that of your spouse as well as your health statuses. If you are unwell due to a medical condition and will require medical care for the foreseeable future this could be a factor that helps a judge make a determination about whether or not to grant your request for spousal maintenance to be paid.

What is income?

Any person who has created even a basic budget understands that there are two columns that need to be filled: that of income and “outgo” (also known as expenses). With these pieces of information, a court can determine exactly how much surplus one spouse may have and how much of a shortage the other may have. In this section of today’s blog post, I would like to spend some time discussing exactly what income means in your divorce.

Income at its core means all earnings that you have received from various acknowledged sources under the Texas Family Code. If you are interested in going through each of the sources you can search the Code online until your heart is content. For today’s purposes, we will discuss the topic on a more broad level.

Wages, salary, commissions, and tips account for the vast majority of income for most people in the realm of spousal maintenance and child support. Also included in income are Social Security payments, disability and unemployment insurance payments as well.

As I noted in a prior section of this blog post if you have investment income from rental properties, stock dividends these are all valid sources for income to be considered as well. More rarely do people experience onetime windfalls like inheritances and lottery winnings. It is advisable to speak to your attorney about these kinds of situations.

What if your spouse has a cash poor/asset heavy wealth distribution?

The value of real and personal assets of your spouse will be considered in a Texas divorce it is to be their responsibility to pay you either spousal maintenance or child support. Bank account funds and the value of their stocks and mutual funds can even be considered.

I have seen situations involving business owners stating their income is far lower than what their actual level of wealth is. The reason being is that business owners can typically write off many expenses associated with their business and do so legally. This allows a valid tax return to be submitted to a court that does not take into consideration the full extent for their material well being.

Furthermore, it is common for business owners to take deductions from their company’s revenue for personal expenses. This could include your spouse’s cell phone, car expenses, health insurance and other costs that are actually associated with your spouse’s personal life.

Their taxable income goes down significantly as a result. I have seen courts take deductions that are made in these areas and add them back into the income of a spouse who is trying to avoid the full brunt of their child support or spousal maintenance responsibilities. The justification for doing so is that since your spouse would not be paying these expenses out of their own money (but that of their business), the money that would ordinarily be used to pay these expenses out of your spouse’s income are now available for the support of you and your children.

More on expenses, costs and other financial issues in divorce to be posted in tomorrow’s blog

Please come on back to our blog tomorrow to read more about some of the less discussed, yet very important, topics associated with finances and divorce. If you have questions about anything that you’ve read today please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We would be happy to set you up with a free of charge consultation at our office with a licensed family law attorney. We take great pride in representing the people in our community- folks just like you.

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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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