The tough part about a divorce is that it offers two different kinds of challenges. The first challenge is that of a complex transactional matter involving important issues related to your life. Your finances, your children and your post-divorce life all hang in the balance during a Texas divorce. As such, you need to be able to negotiate through these issues with a rational mind and with a set of goals to accomplish. Wandering into a divorce is not a good idea because you have no plan in place to accomplish any goals or to go about setting yourself up for success in your post-divorce life.
The other aspect of your case that is difficult to manage will be those parts of your case that are sentimental in nature get involved longstanding emotion over important areas of your life as well. I am thinking about topics like your family home, the relationship you have to your children personal assets of sentimental value and things of this nature. These are topics and subjects that can be both important from a financial perspective and also extremely important from an emotional perspective. That is what you get in a Texas divorce: emotional and practical issues that are extremely important and need to be balanced by you and your attorney.
Today's blog post is going to focus on where the world of practical in financial meets the world of emotional and sentimental. Within a Texas divorce you will be asked to identify property that falls into your community estate and then work through dividing those assets up with your spouse during the course of your divorce. This is an incredibly important responsibility for you to work through. Not only will it impact your life in the present and future from a financial perspective, but it will also leave an imprint on your case in life from an emotional perspective as well. How you manage these issues and decide to divide these assets can you pay dividends for you or cost you a great deal.
Be intentional about whatever you decide to do
The first piece of advice I would give to you in regard to dividing up assets in a divorce is do, above all else, be intentional about what you do. This means that you need to be prepared to work through issues in your divorce by understanding what is at stake in your case and then planning ahead for how to achieve whatever results you want to accomplish. Above all else, you should not consider any topic in regard to dividing up assets without understanding why it is you want to do something.
Begin by determining what goals you have for your case. Some of these goals may be essential, high priority or at the most optional. It is up to you to determine what goals you can absolutely not bend on in terms of their importance what goals you are willing to concede in particular circumstances. Many people associate particular goals about their children to be the most important send have the opinion of their financial goals are less important. As a parent myself, I cannot say that I blame you if this is the way that you feel.
However, you should also understand that accomplishing and having set financial goals for your divorce is also very important. Determining why those goals are important to you is an incredibly worthwhile exercise to engage in, as well. When you really think about why something is important to you, I'll tell you how much effort to put forth when achieving that goal and whether or not it is worth it to accomplish that goal rather than focus your time and energy on something else. Again, I think that sentimentality in a divorce has its place and certainly impacts your decision-making.
If you have financial assets that are of great importance to you then I would sit and determine whether the importance of those assets is objective and based on certain benchmarks or financial realities in your life or whether those assets are important to you from an emotional or sentimental perspective. I am not here to judge you based on how you feel about any specific item in your life. All of us have things in our life that are more sentimental and importance to us rather than financial. However, if you learn why something is important to you it may impact how you prepare to negotiate for it within your case.
Determine whether you actually have to divide the property in question
Before we even get into strategy or methods to divide assets that have sentimental importance when he defers think about whether or not the property actually has to be divided up anyways. The answer to this question boils down to whether the property is part of the community estate of you and your spouse or is one of your separate pieces of property. Community property laws are fairly unique to Texas and just a few other states. For that reason, I would like to spend some time talking about community versus separate property in a Texas divorce.
All property owned by you and your spouse at the time of your divorce is presumed to be Community property. This means that, absent evidence to the contrary, property in your home in outside your home that is owned by you and your spouse will be presumed to be needed to be divided up in the divorce. Property that is separately owned by you and your spouse will be classified as separate property it is not divisible in a Texas divorce. Typically, we're talking about property that was owned by either of you before your marriage or that you came into ownership of during the divorce via gift or inheritance.
For many married couples, the vast majority of their property will be classified as Community property within the divorce. This means that you need to have a firm grasp on what property is in play for your divorce and how would it most likely be classified by a judge if your case made it to that step. At the outset of your case I would begin by inventorying your home, financial assets, vehicles investments or anything else in your lives that maybe subject to division by a court.
The next step in this process is to classify all this property as either being part of your separate estate, community estate or belonging in the separate estate of your spouse. Once you have done this you can distinguish between the property that can be develop a beautiful voice ever property cannot be. This will save you a great deal of time and effort down the line it will help you to stay organized. This does not have to be a detailed or complex method of division or preparation. You can simply go to each room in your house and snap photographs of various items and then get out a legal pad and write down the items that you see. Photographing bank accounts or retirement savings is not as effective but the same process can be repeated for financial accounts and things of that nature.
Since we're talking about assets that hold sentimental value, I am going to assume that various financial accounts in retirement savings vehicles are not items that you hold particularly close to your heart. You may understand on an objective level that these assets are a value to you, but you don't held any deep emotional attachment to any of them. They are simply a means by which you can get from one place to another - vehicle, in other words.
If, after analyzing your financial life, you have come to find that many of the assets that are part of your community state are also ones that you hold a deep sentimental attachment to then you have a problem on your hands that you need to overcome. That problem will likely not be one that is the most important for you in your case, but it is a problem, nonetheless. The problem that I am talking about is How to divide up these assets that are both important from a financial and an emotional perspective. Every one of us places different amounts of importance on individual assets from each of these perspectives. My objective in talking to you about them is to give you general advice on how you could choose to problem solve your way through these various issues.
There is the house and everything else
As far as assets are concerned that you have sentimental attachment to, I would recommend that you look at them from the perspective of which ones are your home and which ones are everything else. The family house in a divorce takes on a life of its own. First there are the obvious financial ramifications of purchasing and selling a house. For most people, it is the most important inexpensive transaction you will make in your life. Add on to that the obvious reality that your family has lived in that home and that you have many memories between those four walls. As such, the family house takes on added importance both from a financial and emotional perspective.
With that said, you need to make sure that if you are trying to remain in the family house after a divorce that you do so because it is what is best for you and your family. Simply staying in a house because you have an emotional attachment to it is not a good plan. On the contrary, if he remains in a house just because you are attached to it from a sentimental perspective that can end up hurting you a great deal from a financial perspective. You need to be sure that you can take on all the costs of a house without the assistance of your spouse’s income.
If you can afford the payments on the home and if remaining in the house is what is best for you and your children both now and years into the future, there is nothing wrong with pushing to remain in the family house after the divorce. However, simply staying in the house because you feel like consistency for your children is paramount over any other issue would be a mistake in my opinion. Temporarily down grading in house in order to collect yourself financially and emotionally after a divorce is not a bad idea at all. kids are more adaptable inflexible then we give them credit for. Do not let an overly emotional attachment to the house harm your divorce and post-divorce lives.
For all other assets that hold sentimental value you need to really determine why it is you hold those assets as being particularly impactful from a sentimental perspective. There are certain assets that I believe rightfully carry with them a great deal of sentimentality. Things like your grandfathers Bible, items given to you by a deceased relative prior to their passing, photographs of cherished memories and things related to your children are all items with great sentimentality attached to them in many cases, these highly sentimental assets have little to no monetary value. Therefore, be prepared to negotiate for them with this in mind and don't fool yourself into thinking that they have any added importance beyond the sentimental value itself.
Hopefully you and your spouse would be able to negotiate your way around the items that you have an emotional attachment to. Odds are good that your spouse also feels emotionally attached to various items in your home that have little to no monetary value. These are items that should not delay your divorce but can if you and your spouse are not intentional but how you negotiate through them maybe devising a plan to allow him or her to retain certain items while allowing you to retain certain others would be the best way to attack items that have sentimental value but perhaps don't have as much in the way of monetary value.
Questions about the material contained in this blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone and via video.