Book an appointment using SetMore

Divorce considerations as a firefighter

Going through a divorce as a firefighter means bearing in mind different considerations that may be important to you and your family. While every person’s circumstances in a divorce are unique There are also additional difficulties when considering firefighter divorces. When discussing the most common factors that may be relevant to firefighter divorce there are a few that Stick out in my mind. Let's walk through those issues right now to see how divorce cases where firefighters can be especially unique and challenging.

Child custody issues related to your work schedule

It is no secret that you as a Firefighter work a schedule that is atypical. This atypical schedule sees you work shifts that can last for as long as 24 hours at a time. Having a schedule like this may be what your community needs from you but is not necessarily conducive to having a traditional custody schedule with your children. This is important both in terms of conservatorships and a visitation schedule.

Conservatorships refer to being able to make decisions and have rights over your children. Also, you have duties to support them and provide them with an education, clothing, a place to live, and to protect them. The primary conservator of children lives with the kids on a full-time basis. On the other hand, He was a firefighter and may be best suited to have visitation rather than primary possession due to your schedule. This does not mean that you cannot have a say in the decision-making regarding your child's everyday life. However, it does acknowledge that You may not be able to get your children to school every day or put them to bed. This does not mean you're a bad parent just that your work Commitments do not put you in a position to always be present for your children in this regard.

What do your work commitments as a firefighter mean for your ability to Tablet visitation schedule with your children? In a standard possession order, You would have visitation with your children on the first, 3rd, and 5th weekends of each month. However, probably, the shifts that you work as a firefighter do not make even this kind of visitation arrangement simple. In that case, you and your spouse need to be able to work together to create a visitation arrangement that works well for all parties.

For instance, having a schedule that is based on your work schedule makes a great deal of sense. As your schedule may change from month to month or even week to week including language in your order to require you to provide your spouse with the schedule in advance to determine how to structure visitation would make a great deal of sense. That way the two of you could create a let's schedule based on your work schedule as it changes.

Issues related to your firefighter pension

In some circumstances, you may find yourself in a position where you are receiving where retirement benefits because of your service with the fire department. In most cases, this will come in the form of a pension. A defined benefits plan like a pension allows for you to have a certain amount of money paid to you upon retirement. However, you do not have direct control over the pension and the investment of the pension. Your responsibility would be to inform your attorney of the pension. You and your spouse could negotiate over dividing the pension based on your circumstances and needs.

Spousal support after the divorce 

In Texas, spousal support is a relatively recent phenomenon. It is only since 1995 that judges were able to award spousal maintenance to a spouse after a divorce. If you and your spouse have been married for longer than 10 years, then spousal maintenance is a possibility in your case. However, it would need to be determined that your spouse has a need to receive spousal maintenance and that you have the ability in your budget to pay this maintenance. Many times, a judge Well order a disproportionate division of your community and state to avoid having spousal maintenance be paid. However, there would need to be sufficient property to divide in your community state for this to occur.

Talk to an attorney before proceeding with your divorce

If you and your spouse are headed towards divorce but have a good relationship with one another, you may think that you could potentially get a divorce without consulting with an experienced family law attorney. However, I would caution you that if you have children, a significant community estate, or both then it is in your best interest to at least speak to an attorney before proceeding with your case. 

An experienced family law attorney can help you to understand the complex nature of the Texas family code and how it applies to your life. A divorce is not something where you can afford to go into the process without a plan. If you have responsibilities in your life: a job, a family, and other interests, then being able to devote your attention single-mindedly to divorce is probably not something possible. However, that is the exact amount of attention that a divorce demands. You need to be able to understand and manage the changing circumstances of a divorce as well as the circumstances of your life. Having an attorney by your side can help you to do these things.

If you are concerned with being able to meet with an attorney given your hectic schedule, then you are in luck. The attorneys with the law office of Brian Fagan offer a convenient array of methods by which you can meet with us. This begins with being able to meet with one of our attorneys in a free-of-charge consultation at one of our two Houston area office locations. We have our primary office in the FM 1960 and Champions area which is convenient for most anyone on the north side of Houston. Additionally, we have another office location in Humble to better serve to east and Northeast sides of Houston.

If meeting in person is not something that you can do at the moment, then I would recommend contacting our office to arrange a free of charge consultation by phone or video. Even as the pandemic recedes the need for some people to be able to meet conveniently like on the computer has not dissipated. Our attorneys and staff understand your schedule may not allow for you to be present physically for a meeting with one of our attorneys. That is why we want to make available to you every method possible for you to sit down and speak with one of our lawyers.

Is your divorce going to be one where it is a knockdown, drag-out fight?

Most people that I talked to and work with as they head into a divorce case believe that their case is going to be one where it is inevitable that they and their spouse get into several arguments where nobody can work towards a resolution without fighting. I can't say that I blame these folks for thinking this way. Movies and television have been telling us for generations that divorce is this way. In addition, we've all heard divorce horror stories from people in our lives. It would only be normal to expect, therefore that your divorce would have to be the same way. 

This is not the reality for most people who go through a divorce in Texas. Even if you and your spouse do not see eye to eye on most subjects related to your case the reality is that most divorces in Texas are settled before you go to court. For example, most family court judges in Texas now require that you attend at least one session of mediation before going to a temporary order hearing or trial period mediation allows for you and your spouse to engage in intentional and direct methods of negotiation on a settlement. Putting the two of you and a setting where distractions are limited, and a deadline approaches often can produce great results when it comes to avoiding court and settling your case without much acrimony. 

In addition, you may find that the process of negotiating informally with your spouse is more effective than you would have been led to believe by others. I have experienced several cases where first responders, police officers, and firefighters can take the lead in negotiations with their spouses directly. Nobody knows your situation better than you and your spouse. If you can enlist the help of any supportive services offered to you by your fire department then that is for the best. Combined with the efforts of your skilled family law attorney you and your spouse are likely going to be able to avoid as much acrimony as possible. At the very least, odds are in your favor that a divorce trial will not be necessary.

In Texas, there are two different types of divorces. There are contested divorces and uncontested divorces. Most cases are contested divorces where you and your spouse have not concluded all issues related to your case before filing it. Uncontested divorces are ones where you and your spouse agree on all issues in your case. There are no outstanding issues to sort through and the two of you simply need to file the case and proceed to draft an order based on the issues that you have already agreed upon. This is a difficult arrangement to find yourself in and it only takes 1 issue where there is a disagreement for your case to become contested. 

The benefit of an uncontested divorce is that you and your spouse do not have to go through the normal divorce process in terms of negotiating on every subject related to your case. Additionally, you do not run the risk of having to go to court to have a family court judge determine how the issues of your case will be sorted out. You want to hold onto as much a decision-making ability regarding your case as possible. Putting your case in the hands of a family court judge usually means that the conclusion of the case will not be as desirable for either party as it would have been for the two of you if you were able to reach an agreement together.

Bear in mind that Texas divorce cases have a minimum length of the period from the date that your divorce is filed until the date that a judge can sign your final decree of divorce at least 60 days must have passed. These 60 days. Is designed to give both you and your spouse ample opportunity to consider whether you want to get divorced. Believe it or not, many people who go through a divorce process end up staying married after they realize that the divorce was not really what either of them wanted. Additionally, if you do decide to move forward with the divorce then the 60 days. Allows for ample time to begin the negotiation process. Please note that most divorces in Texas take longer than 60 days to complete.

Keep in mind that your divorce covers three main areas: dividing up your community estate, child custody, and the possibility of spousal maintenance. It is important to bear in mind that each of these areas can be impacted the others. For example, spousal maintenance may not be needed if you have a large enough community estate that can be divided to compensate your spouse for having a less advantageous position as far as finances and a living situation. 

Community property division in a Texas firefighter divorce

Probably the most notable and important aspect of property division in a Texas divorce is that we live in a community property state. Community property presumes that all property owned at the time of your divorce is subject to division. It does not matter whose money was used to purchase the items. As long as the property was purchased during the marriage it is subject to division and thus community property. This is because most any income earned during your marriage is considered to be community property income. This is in stark contrast to how most states characterize community income and income in general. 

This reality comes as a shock to many people who get divorced in Texas. I think there is a broad-based assumption that if you earn the money that purchases an item then that item should go to you in your divorce. For example, if you are the spouse who works outside the home then the property purchased with your income should be yours. The same goes for retirement and other investments. It doesn't matter who worked and who stayed at home, however. Or if you earned more than your spouse or she more than you. 

Separate property can also be owned by either you or your spouse. This would be property owned by either of you before your marriage. In addition, you may inherit property during the marriage or acquire property by gift during the marriage. These are the main ways for property to be classified as separately owned in a Texas divorce. You may find yourself in a position where there is a disagreement as to whether a particular item belongs in the community estate or either of your separate estates. 

Separate property cannot be divided in a Texas divorce. Ultimately it is up to you and your spouse how this property is classified, however. You and your spouse can work to classify this property however you would like. You may have even entered into a premarital or marital property agreement where you classified property in advance of a divorce. 

Child custody 

It is presumed in Texas that appointing you and your spouse as joint managing conservators is in the best interests of your child. This means that the two of you will share in the responsibilities of raising your child but also in sharing time with your child. To learn more about the options you may have as far as custody and possession of your children you should contact an experienced family attorney. This is an important point to make since you need some creativity when it comes to creating custody arrangements for a firefighter parent. With a lawyer who is experienced in handling these sorts of cases, you run the risk of losing time with your kids. 

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 consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. If you are interested in learning more about firefighter divorces, please look at our blog. We have an assortment of blog posts covering divorce is related to firefighters and first responders. Thank you for your interest in our law office and we hope that you will join us again on our blog tomorrow as we continue to share unique and interesting content about the world of Texas family law.

Sign Up Here to Download Our eBook!

Fill out the form below 
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.