During a typical divorce is common for spouses to run into problems associated with one another. Not only are you trying to coordinate an exit strategy from your marriage with your spouse, but you also have to manage familial, relational, emotional, and financial aspects of your marriage in one process. This provides ample opportunity for both of you two be at odds with the other and disagree about any number of these subjects. While it is true that most divorces are not as dramatic and contentious as television may have you believe, it will be and for them not to be any disagreements in your divorce.
This is just the reality of most divorces. I am not trying to dissuade you from getting a divorce, necessarily. If you can avoid divorce and maintain your marriage, then I don't think anyone would try to stop you. However, it is clear to both you and your spouse that you need a divorce. You should be prepared for some activities and behaviors during the divorce that are troublesome and difficult to get past from an emotional or practical standpoint. It is best to understand this and move past it once you have taken steps to prepare for it.
Let's spend our time in today's blog post focusing on financial and community property-related aspects of divorce. Divorce is about more than just money, but today's blog posts are devoted almost entirely to this subject. I want to share some perspective on a subject that hopefully will not be a part of your divorce but that I can tell you from experience can be an essential part of the process.
The subject that I am referring to is the hiding of assets by your spouse in the divorce. Your spouse may be motivated to hide assets from you for a variety of reasons. However, whatever the reason is, this sort of behavior can hurt your case a great deal and prolong the process for everyone involved.
How complex your divorce is will determine the likelihood of asset hiding.
Many divorces are not complex at all from a financial perspective. Suppose you own a small home with a mortgage. In that case, rent at home and have no mortgage, have little in retirement, and only simple savings and checking account at a credit union, Then the ability for you to hide assets is probably minimal. You probably won't be hiding assets because you don't have any beyond your savings at the credit union then you lack how to hide assets in the first place. This is not a judgment on you, but it is a frank assessment of where most people are financial. My wife and I have a very straightforward financial plan that we employ in our lives and would probably fall into the "simple" category as far as our financial lives are concerned.
On the other hand, some of you reading this blog post may have much more complicated and detailed financial lives. You may be high earners whose incomes outpace most of the people living around you. Or, you may not be a high earner, but you may have complicated business dealings or investments that provide you with more of a cover to hide assets if that were to be a goal of yours. Still, others have debts that they have been afraid to share with their spouse and hide for years. If any of these circumstances describe you, or if you think these circumstances told your spouse, then you ought to pay attention to the remainder of today's blog post.
Have a plan for dividing property before your divorce begins
The best advice that I can give to anyone preparing for a divorce is to have a plan and be intentional throughout the process—being deliberate means having a reason As to why you do anything associated with your divorce. I get the impression that many people who go through a divorce do so with an overall goal of being divorced at the end of the process but have not thought of the concrete steps it takes to get there. Rather than drifting through your divorce and expecting your attorney to make decisions for you, it is better to have goals in mind and plans on how to get there. This means starting before the divorce begins hi having a goal-setting session with yourself.
Meeting with an experienced family law attorney regarding your divorce is critical. It is especially essential for those of you who have complex cases in your finances. You may often have a divorce upcoming, which includes a small business operated by your spouse that you have little to no knowledge of. Your spouse may own A company that you have stepped foot inside of, but you have no knowledge of the operations and no idea about the assets or debts associated with it. All you know is that when you need to go to the grocery store, your debit card always has money to spend.
This is a dangerous situation for you to put yourself in and one that I would do everything you could to avoid. A big part of preventing a scenario like that would be to hire an experienced family law attorney capable of helping you uncover assets and debts and examine finances with a keen eye for detail. You want to avoid a situation where purchases or deaths were missed in the divorce, and you somehow became responsible for them when your case was set all said and done. It is important to note that you will not be able to reopen your divorce case to settle these debts or assign ownership to particular assets.
Whoever makes the financial decisions in your family will hold a distinct advantage in the divorce.
Based on my experiences working with folks who are getting divorced, most families have one spouse handle the finances, and the other spouse address other areas of the marriage. As I was alluding to earlier in today's blog post, if you are the spouse who does not have direct control over the earning of income or the finances in general, then you are at a distinct disadvantage in your divorce. You are at a disadvantage because a great deal of your case depends on specific knowledge of your finances and how to approach that issue in your case.
If you lack a sound knowledge of your financial situation, Then there is no way that you can attempt to negotiate in good faith with your spouse. You would be doing yourself and your spouse a disservice by trying to do so without specific knowledge of where things are in your family as far as property, assets, and debts. To avoid problems negotiating in this regard, I recommend that you begin to organize documents like tax returns, retirement statements, and even checking account statements to have a better idea about what sort of assets are in play for your divorce.
These sorts of documents are the bedrock or the backbone to most families in their financial circumstances. A tax return is significant because you can probably determine what kind of property is owned in your marriage if you did not already know. If your spouse owns a small business, you can learn about what sort of income the company generated and the costs of running that business. You may also learn more about the assets owned by the industry and any debts in curd in running that business daily.
If you cannot put into practice any of the other pieces of advice I'm about to give you, I would recommend at least following through with this first piece of advice. The reality is that if you take basic steps to protect yourself by closely examining financial documents that are so basic, like tax returns, you can put yourself in a position to negotiate in good faith with your spouse during the divorce. Solid, basic knowledge of your finances is more than many people going through divorce end up having.
Examine the behavior of your spouse about your finances
The final thrust of today's blog post will focus on your needing to closely examine your spouse's behavior about your finances. It is not enough for you to assume that your spouse is honest about your financial situation. The more knowledge you have of your finances, the more trusting you can be. However, if you have been lax in the past about keeping up with anything that happened to do with finances, then you most certainly should not take anything for granted in this regard for your divorce.
Dividing your community estate in the divorce not only impacts this one area of your case but impacts you in many others as well. For example, child support and spousal maintenance after the divorce conclude depend in large part on how much community property you can walk away with. If you do not get a fair share of the community property pool, then the amount of child support or the amount of spousal support you are eligible to receive may be impacted as well. Do not take anything for granted, and do not assume that one area of your case does not affect other sites. A divorce is a complex ecosystem where many different systems impact many others.
Take a look at your bank statements and look to see if withdrawals or deposits are made regularly or if large amounts of money are taken out or deposited at seemingly random intervals. You will want to identify patterns and look for the source of income. You and your attorney can do a little legwork to determine where income is sourced and whether or not your spouse has reasonable explanations for any activity that appears to be suspicious. Trust your spouse and do the legwork to verify that what they are saying is accurate.
It would help if you were wary of bills or other statements not being sent to your home address instead of being diverted to your spouse's business. If you become aware that your spouse is making debt payments that you were unaware of, you have a potentially big problem to sort through in your divorce. Going through your checking statement line by line in the item by item is a basic but solid way to determine where your money is being spent. If you see credit cards that you were unaware of or other creditors listed, then you need to either ask your spouse about these issues or pull your credit report to determine what bills, if any, are listed in your name.
A considerable problem you will want to avoid is having debts taken out in your name that you were unaware of. Some spouses will take such liberties with their partner's information. An identity that they will attempt to take out debt without their other spouse knowing about it. This is a significant violation of trust and is illegal behavior on top of that. These are issues that can be sorted through but are more easily dealt with during the divorce than afterward.
Questions about the material contained in today's 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. I appreciate your interest in our law office, and we hope you will return to our blog tomorrow as we continue to post unique content regarding the world of Texas family law.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring 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 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 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 Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, 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.