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Approaching your Texas divorce from a financial perspective

Married persons tend to earn more money than single people. There are a number of studies that will tell you this. Go search the internet for a couple and you will see what I am talking about. Whether it is building wealth, saving for your children's college education or simply avoiding being in a situation where you become impoverished, marriage is a key factor in the financial success of many people.

Then you also have to take into consideration the fact that you are losing a big chunk of your household income when you divorce your spouse. You may have become accustomed to a certain way of living that after your divorce is no longer achievable for you. This could be especially true if you are a stay at home mother or wife who has been out of the workforce for some time and is now being forced to return to the job market. 

It is common to run into financial problems as a result of divorce. In fact, I would argue that it is an exceptional case that sees a person going through a divorce not suffer some degree of financial hardship. Supporting two households when there are not two, full-time incomes can be a near impossible expectation to lay out for a struggling family. Community property (that property which is acquired during the course of your marriage other than inherited property or gifts) will be divided in your divorce. The manner in which it is divided will go a long way towards determining how positive your post-divorce financial outlook will be. 

When you consider that the vast majority of children in divorce cases, from my experience, live with their mother primarily after a divorce, the financial implications of the process can have a significant impact on their lives. Although more women are in the workplace now than in any prior generation, it is usually women who earn less money compared to their spouses and have a greater need for financial assistance after the divorce. 

The first year after a divorce is usually the most difficult for families

When it comes to shouldering a significant financial burden, it is my belief that the first year after the divorce is the most difficult for families. This can be especially true for women. As a wife/mother it is possible that you were not in a position to contribute financially to the marriage due to your taking on a role as homemaker and mother. While you contributed a definite economic benefit through those services, you were not in earning an income. 

Therefore, you will likely have to return to the workforce after a many-year absence. Relying upon public assistance programs is probably not what you want to do but that is a reality that many newly-single moms face after going through a divorce. My point in mentioning all of this is to say that if you are a woman and are considering whether or not to file for divorce this is a worthwhile issue to plan for. Do not put yourself into a position where you have gotten a divorce but are not prepared financially to move forward once the divorce has completed. 

Staying home with the children after a divorce may not be possible

If you are a stay at home mom who has fulfilled that role for your family since the birth of your child, you may find that you are not in a financial position to be able to do so after your divorce. This is difficult not only for your kids but for you as well. The way that you value yourself and the impact on your children may be derived in large part from your ability to parent that child on a regular basis. Having to return to work and leave that child with a relative or child care provider could be something that is extremely difficult for you.

The financial problems associated with childcare are many. For one, if you are have recently re-integrated back into the workforce, your income likely is not that high. As such, child care costs would eat into the majority of what you earn on a monthly basis. You need to be sure in your divorce that you either negotiate for a significant enough portion of your communicate estate or negotiate a child support total that will allow for you and your children to pay for your essentials.

What are the main financial issues for men that are associated with a divorce?

Men feel the effects of divorce as well from a financial perspective, perhaps just not as acutely as do women. The most obvious financial impact of a divorce on a husband/father is the need to pay child support/spousal maintenance. If you are not named as the parent with the right to determine the primary residence of your child then you will likely be paying child support. The amount you pay is a function of how much your income you earn and how many children you have.

Spousal support is a little trickier to discuss as far as a blanket rule to give you. Typically, if you and your spouse have not been married for at least ten years then you cannot be ordered to pay spousal maintenance upon the conclusion of your divorce. Marriages that have lasted at least for a ten year period have various percentages that apply to an income as well as a limitation on how long the spousal maintenance can be ordered to be paid. 

All of these costs that you may incur as a husband/father come into play at the same time as you are needing to buy new furniture, rent an apartment or home and pay any legal expenses associated with the divorce itself. Budgeting your money is critical for men and women going through a divorce, especially if you have never created a budget and lived within your means previously.

What legal options are available to you in regard to getting a divorce in Texas?

Unless your personal safety is at risk, you do not need to file for divorce on a whim or without thinking about your options first. Like we just went over, having a plan is a good thing as you head into a divorce case. You should work with your support system and family to make a decision as to what is best for you and your children moving forward. A divorce is like anything else that you go through in life- the effort that you put into your case will be equal to the results of your case. 

If you go into your divorce with an aggressive mindset, you are likely to have aggression be the response of your spouse. In some cases, this is inevitable especially if your safety is at risk or your spouse has committed some other act of violence against you or your children. In that type of situation, you can and should file for temporary orders, protective orders and anything else that is available to keep you and your family safe. If your spouse comes back at you with anger and aggression then that just comes with the territory.

How long will your divorce take?

Divorces in Texas can take anywhere from two months to two years to complete. Very few divorces wrap up in two months and even fewer divorces will take two years. Divorce can be expensive but in most cases, it does not have to be. From my experience, most people going through divorces in Texas do not have the assets or the facts that necessitate a long and drawn out divorce case. Your case may involve children and some amount of community property but the solutions to solving whatever problems you have are likely not that complex and can be arrived at via negotiation.

Is your divorce uncontested?

This is a phrase that I hear from clients all the time when they will optimistically come into my office to speak to us about divorce. He or she is sure that their divorce will be uncontested. I'm not exactly sure how you define that word, but for me, uncontested means that there are no contested issues in your divorce. This means that you and your spouse must truly agree on every issue regarding financial matters and your children. If you disagree on any subject then you do not have an uncontested divorce.

However, if you believe that your divorce is either uncontested or nearly uncontested there may not be a need to proceed with a full-scale divorce case. What I mean by this is that after your petition for divorce has been filed, an Answer received and everyone ready to negotiate, you and your spouse may choose to mediate your case immediately in order to avoid a long and drawn out divorce. 

Mediation is a process whereby you and your attorney and your spouse and their attorney agree to allow a third party, independent family law attorney step into your case and work with you all to negotiate the terms of a settlement. The end result of mediation is a Mediated Settlement Agreement which will be the basis for the final orders of your divorce. 

Mediation allows you to bypass the rigors of a contested divorce and cut right to the chase. Custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and a division of the community estate you share with your spouse will all be completed in mediation. If you cannot come to an agreement on any issue, your case can proceed to either a temporary orders hearing or trial. Likewise, if you learn information in mediation that you need to inquire about further, your attorney can submit requests for discovery upon your spouse so that he or she can provide you with information that may be relevant to your divorce case.

Do you need to hire an attorney for your divorce?

For most people, hiring an attorney is essential when getting a divorce. It is not necessarily because the issues associated with a divorce are overly complex. It is because there are many issues going on in a divorce simultaneously and unless you are experienced in working with divorcing people you will not be able to devote sufficient attention to each issue if you are working alone. The benefit to having a family law attorney represent you in a divorce is not only the level of experience that you are getting but also the attorney's skill at negotiation and multi-tasking within the divorce are crucial to your achieving a just outcome.

Otherwise, if you and your spouse have a truly uncontested divorce, no children and very little in the way of community property to divide, then it may not be necessary for you to hire an attorney to represent you in a divorce. The state of Texas has online documents that can show you how to file for divorce, draft the paperwork and file it with the judge. Of course, issues may arise along the way, mistakes can be made and money can be lost due to delays associated with your case. For these reasons, I recommend hiring an attorney even if your case appears to be clear cut.

Questions about family law and divorce in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

Thank you for spending part of your day with us today learning about family law cases in Texas. If you have any questions or would like feedback about your particular case, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week where we can answer your questions and address whatever specific issues you have. 

Our attorneys practice in all of the family courts in southeast Texas and have achieved positive results for clients in each. We pride ourselves on communicating well, having strong attention to detail and putting the interests of our clients ahead of everything else. We look forward to being able to speak to you about your case and your family
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