When you finally decide to get a divorce, you have likely gone over several different questions in your head several times about the important issues in every case. Wondering about subjects like child custody, property division, and a host of other financial concerns are perfectly normal to have at this stage of a case. You have not yet storage case, and you probably have more questions than answers at this point. It would be best if you did at this stage of a case they seek out answers wherever you can find them.
The tough part is being able to find the correct answer is from reputable sources. So much of the time, when we are looking for guidance, we look to sources that may be close to us but may not have the right information to provide us with. For example, you may be leaning on friends or family members to help guide you in a divorce, but you need to ask yourself whether or not these folks have experience or specific knowledge such that their advice is worth taking.
That doesn't mean that I disregard what your friends your family have to say or that you should. However, the important thing for you to be able to consider when it comes to your well-being in your family is that facts are more important than feelings. This means that those people who can offer you information based on facts rather than feelings are critical at this stage of your life in the stage of your case.
It should be noted that there is a place for advice based on emotion and feeling. A big part of your divorce will involve those subjects. However, in my years of practicing law, I've found that when it comes to answering difficult questions, facts are just more helpful than relying on emotion. You may be emotional about your divorce. You may want to do everything you can to get past this divorce, and getting angry and upset won’t help you. What will help you is learning the basic information of a divorce to make good decisions when your case begins.
Dividing property in a divorce Step 1: Filing for divorce
It may sound silly to point this out, but it is important to your case for you to file for divorce. Many people spend months or even years going back and forth on whether or not to get a divorce. Meanwhile, their life is passing before their eyes, and the need for the divorce increases with each passing month. Unfortunately, many of you reading this blog post may find yourselves in this position. None of the benefits of a divorce can occur in your life unless you go ahead and file for divorce.
In my years as an attorney, I have seen many instances of people simply deciding to move apart from one another rather than taking the initiative to move forward with the divorce. Understandably, most of these folks have no idea about the liability of remaining married to a person long after you no longer live with them, period; consider the consequences of remaining married to someone you do not trust or otherwise lives life on terms of that you agree with. This is a huge risk to you and your children.
Consider that your spouse could take out large amounts of debt, use your name to sign up for particular loans or lines of credit, or perform other actions that are particularly egregious while you are so married to them. Yes, it is likely in a divorce that your attorney could present evidence showing that this was fraudulently and without cause. However, it is better not to put yourself in a position where your spouse could act in this way. Being married to someone gives that person a certain degree of power to utilize your information or have the least access to it.
Another example of why you do not want to wait to get divorced even if you are no longer living with that person is because you may not be able to get a home loan or even be qualified to rent a home to live in if you are married to someone who has problems with their credit or issues with their criminal history. Landlords will often check and see if you are married and whether or not that person has good or bad credit. This is done to protect the landlord from having a spouse try to hide the identity of their partner to rent a home or an apartment.
So, it is better not to sit on your hands and rather move forward with a divorce when you believe it is necessary. It could end up that your spouse does nothing to harm you financially while you are married but not living together. However, it makes much more sense to get a divorce from a person whose values are not aligned with your own. At some point, you have to move forward with your life to have some finality and closure to the situation.
When it comes to dividing property in a Texas divorce case, once your divorce has been filed, you should begin to organize new property, including real estate, personal property, and investments. Once you do so, you can begin to determine the property's approximate value and take steps to plan how you envision the property being divided in your divorce case.
Dividing property in a divorce Step 2:begin to inventory and appraise the property
The tricky part about getting a divorce is that you do not necessarily know exactly how and when your case will come to a close. You will know pretty confidently that there will be certain steps associated with closing out your divorce. However, you do not know exactly when the case will end and what those circumstances will be. This is especially important regarding your marital home. Not only is the home a valuable asset in your life, but it also contains a lot of important information.
For instance, you likely have physical copies of tax documents, insurance paperwork, investment prospectuses, and other important bits of information contained in file cabinets and desk drawers in your home. While many of us keep important information virtually on a cloud these days, it may be that you have information stored specifically on your home computer that you may need access to in the future. Whatever your circumstances are, the key to understanding a divorce is that you may not.
With that said, you need to begin to organize and inventory your life from a property perspective as soon as possible in conjunction with your divorce. This means that you can begin to do so even before the divorce is filed. I would argue that this is the best time to begin this sort of process. Not only do you not have the pressure of divorce hanging over your shoulders, but you will have access to all of the locations in your home where important information is kept. Why you should never hide or destroy documents or other property during this time is important for your case for you to organize and keep track of this information.
For instance, one of the most simple things you can do during this stage is photograph and document the property that you own. I recommend that they go into each room in their home and photograph the room from multiple angles. This would include opening up desk drawers, and the dresser is to document or is in each drawer and location at the beginning of your case. You can open up closets, safes, and other private locations to document what is included in each.
Why is this so important? For starters, there is no guarantee that you will be able to access your home after a divorce has started. Eventually, you may be ordered by the court to leave your home, and then your ability to get inside of the marital home may be minimal. For that reason, you need to strike while the iron is hot and begin to document the property in your home as quickly as possible. This may sound like I recommend that you do some secret spy activities, but I can assure you that I am not.
All you need to do is photograph these locations and keep the photos handy to inventory your own property. This will come to your assistance later on in your case when you can't seem to recall how many sets of silverware you own or how much cash you had in a safe or in your desk drawer. With so much going on during a divorce, you should not be expected to have to recall everything you own to a judge or your attorney. Therefore, it is better to be sure about the property you own when you have a chance to document it. Take photos and begin to organize your property sooner rather than later in a divorce.
Finally, you may want to start appraising or estimating the approximate value of your property sooner rather than later. A large part of dividing property in a divorce is determining the overall value of your community estate. To arrive at this figure, the approximate value of your property needs to be determined. The best way for you to come to a judge with this value is to inventory and appraise the property. Simply going through your photos and financial documents and estimating the value of your accounts, property, and investments is a great place to start.
Dividing property in a divorce Step 3: negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.
One of the biggest misnomers about divorce in Texas is that the case will most likely end up going to a trial. I can't say that I would blame you for believing that this is the case, given how movies and television tend to shape our collective opinions on this subject. Those mediums tend to show almost exclusively how divorce cases wind up in court. With that said, it is not true that divorces mostly end before a judge. The vast majority of divorce cases in Texas settle before a trial. Therefore, you need to negotiate with your spouse in all areas of your divorce but especially when it comes to your property.
At the beginning of a divorce, I like to talk to our clients about their goals regarding property division. I get the impression that some attorneys tend to apply blanket beliefs about how property should be divided across their clients. However, I think that it would be a mistake to function in this way. To prevent your case from falling into this state, I recommend talking to your attorney early and often about your particular goals for your divorce.
For instance, do you want to keep the family house so that your children can have a familiar and comfortable place for them coming out of the divorce? Are you particularly concerned about retirement and how you are going to live comfortably in your golden years? Are you concerned about your life immediately after the divorce and how you will make ends meet once your divorce is finalized? These are the sort of basic, valid questions that clients have asked me as they head into a divorce. I’m willing to bet that you find yourself asking similar questions as you head into a divorce of your own.
Once you determine your specific goals for the divorce when it comes to your property, you should begin to engage in a dialogue with your opposing party on where you all see your case going. It may be that your spouse has similar goals and views as you when it comes to dividing up property. You may not be able to see eye to eye with your spouse on every issue on the property but identifying those areas where you agree is important.
Community property is all property that is acquired during your marriage. This means that it is likely the vast majority of the property that you and your spouse own must be divided in the divorce. It would be best if you worked on this with your spouse rather than the two of you, leaving that question to be answered by a family court judge. While the judge may be willing to listen to both of you in a trial or temporary orders hearing, they will never be able to gain as much of an understanding about your lives as either of you possess
Usually, a divorce case ends in a setting known as mediation. Mediation is an opportunity for you and your spouse to attend a meeting with one another at the office of an unbiased, neutral third party. That third party is very likely to be a practicing family law attorney themselves. This is a great advantage for you and your spouse and that you were able to learn the viewpoint of another person who is frequently involved in family law cases such as your own.
Each of you and your attorneys will be in separate rooms where the mediator can act as a go-between for settlement offers and questions to the other side. When negotiating over a division of your property, each of you must have multiple settlements offers ready and specific figures of your property ready to provide to the other side. Up to date values of retirement accounts and values and appraisals of your home if you were going to sell a home are also important.
The more precise you are with your inventory and appraisement, your spouse's more likely to play ball with you and negotiate with you in good faith. If you go into mediation with estimates and outdated information when it comes to your property value, then you will be unlikely to be able to settle based on the circumstances of your case.
Questions about the materials 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. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and about how your family may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. I appreciate your interest in our law office. We hope you will join us again tomorrow as we continue to share updated information about the world of Texas family law.