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Alimony in Texas…What Does the Law Say?

If you are like most people, one of the ways that you have probably tried to learn more about the divorce process in Texas is by asking someone who has been through the process before. This is a reasonable way to go about learning a subject that you may know very little about. When it comes to divorce there are so many misnomers’ half-truths and falsehoods that come up about this subject that can sometimes be difficult to know who to turn to. Even trusted friends and family members can sometimes lead you astray and puts you in a position where you gain knowledge that isn't necessarily accurate.

Heading into a divorce, and receiving bad information can be a deflating feeling. Thinking that you knew something when you did not can make it feel like the wool has been pulled over your eyes. The last thing you want is to feel that you are unprepared for such an important part of your life. Also, you can feel like your friend or family member led you astray when that was never their intent in the first place. Likely, your friend or family member was just giving you advice based on their lived experience in their case. Since their circumstances may differ greatly from your own it is entirely possible that what was accurate for their case may have been incredibly inaccurate advice for your own.

So, where can you turn next for advice and perspective about your divorce? Well, other than getting first-hand advice from friends or family members I'm willing to bet that the next likeliest source of income that you may come across in your situation would be from the Internet. The Internet can be a give-and-take situation as far as information is concerned. On the plus side, you can gain a lot more information from the Internet than you could from a friend or family member. Whereas the friend or family member has only their perspective to go off, the Internet has a seemingly unlimited amount of information when it comes to divorce cases. You can surely learn as much as you would ever like to know about any number of issues related to divorce from the computer.

On the other hand, sometimes it is difficult to verify the trustworthiness of an Internet source and you have a limited amount of knowledge yourself to verify the trustworthiness. While you would like to believe that everything you read from, an attorney's website or other source is completely accurate, you don't know that it is. You may also be reading about subject matter that is seemingly on point in your situation, but it can be misleading due to it being related to subject matter that isn't exactly what you are looking for or need to read.

As you can tell, it is difficult to find credible sources of information about much of anything on the Internet not to mention divorce law. For every quality source, you find there may be a dozen misleading or inaccurate sources. Beyond reading the Texas family code word for word what you need is accurate and up-to-date information about the subject matter that is most pressing for you and your family in a divorce scenario. Otherwise, what you may find is that you become more frustrated than needed, and the divorce would get off to a bad start when it otherwise did not need to.

Working with an experienced Texas family law attorney here's your best bet for success in a divorce

With all of that said, I think your best bet in a divorce scenario is to consider working with an experienced family law attorney like those with the law office of Brian Fagan. Whether it is alimony or any other subject in a divorce, being able to focus on your case and your family while allowing someone who has been there and done that to help guide you throughout the process is very important. It is one of the biggest challenges you will face in your life when we talk about a divorce. There is nothing wrong with feeling like you have more questions and answers and may even be unsure about whether it is even time for you to proceed into this type of case.

To be completely fair, there is no way to completely guarantee your success in a divorce. Even working alongside diligent and experienced family law attorneys like those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is not necessarily enough to guarantee you anything in the divorce. Strange things tend to happen in divorce cases and even the most prepared people and their attorneys may find themselves struggling to find answers at times during a divorce. What's more, the rest of your life will still go on at the same speed despite the divorce. With so much up in the air the best you can do is to prepare as diligently as possible and two be consistent in developing a strategy and then implementing that strategy in the case.

All of this begins with a meeting with an experienced family law attorney. To be sure, there are many family law attorneys In Southeast Texas who would be happy to take your divorce case. Many times, you may even get the wrong idea about what it means to hire a lawyer and what type of attorney will serve you best in your divorce case. When it comes to a divorce in Texas, Having the advice and perspective of an experienced family law attorney means that you will be working with someone who has served people like you in situations like yours previously. Without a doubt, it is to your advantage to hire an attorney, and even more important for that attorney to work in family law.

The attorneys with the law office of Brian Fagan offer a level of experience and expertise that you could certainly stand to benefit from in your divorce case. Do not make the same mistake that so many others have over the years when it comes to a divorce. That mistake would be to begin your divorce without an attorney and then make mistakes along the way. These mistakes could be in drafting documents, filing documents, work simply meeting deadlines. All the while your spouse he's able to take advantage of those mistakes and you're having to go back and correct those errors. 

Rather, you are better suited to sit down with an experienced attorney from the beginning of your case to learn about the process, and how the law may impact your family and then you can decide about hiring a lawyer. This will put you in a position where you do not get behind the ball when it comes to your case, and you can begin on strong footing as opposed to having to play catch up compared to your spouse. Fortunately for you, the experienced family law attorneys with the law office of Brian Fagan offer free of charge consultation six days a week at our three Houston area locations, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are free of charge and can certainly help you to learn more about the circumstances you are facing in a divorce as well as the possible impacts of a divorce on your family both now and in the future.

Should you try to hide your income to avoid paying alimony

When it comes to post-divorce spousal support the type that can be ordered by a family court judge in a trial is known as spousal maintenance. Alimony, strictly speaking, is not a thing that can be awarded in Texas. Contractual alimony, on the other hand, can be negotiated between you and your spouse in mediation or negotiations before a trial period however, if you and your spouse cannot agree on alimony contractually then spousal maintenance can be ordered by a judge.

What you also need to know is that the Texas family code is clear that your spouse may only receive spousal maintenance if he or she proves that they have a legitimate need and cannot pay their minimum basic needs out of their income or from liquidating property that they own. These are limited circumstances. Many people have the misconception that spousal maintenance can be ordered in situations simply to allow your spouse to live a certain lifestyle or be a little bit more comfortable financially after the divorce. Rather, he or she would need to be able to prove a need to the judge and that can be difficult to do in many circumstances.

The other side of the coin is that you must be able to afford to pay special maintenance for a judge to award it to your spouse. Your income may be stretched thin after the divorce when it comes to attorney’s fees, paying off debts, finding a new place to live, day-to-day bills, and child support. So, even if a family court judge would be inclined to order special maintenance in your case and it's possible for you to simply show that you cannot afford to pay due to having a limited budget. to accomplish this means that you would need to be prepared to submit a budget to your spouse to the judge to show a rundown of household costs and your income. Preferably, you would have this information available to your spouse in mediation so that he or she can't see ahead of time what your income looks like compared to your budget period in this way you may be able to avoid going to a trial in the first place. 

However, when we talk about the ability to pay special maintenance it is also very likely that your spouse has a good understanding of what your income is. For example, if you worked at a bank come on a typical company, or even had an hourly wage job then your spouse probably has a decent understanding of what you earn monthly. It may even be the case that your income is extremely consistent month over month and that your spouse was intricately involved in creating a family budget for your family. As a result, the information that you share with him or her in the divorce may not come as much of a surprise to him or her. Frankly, you both may be in a position where you could stand to benefit from spousal maintenance but neither of you may be able to pay it to the other.

An exception to this general rule where your spouse may have specific knowledge of your income would be that situation where you or a small business owner. As a small business owner, you may have the ability to hide or shelter income or assets easily. This can be done in several ways and at certain times depending upon the situation. At various times of the year, you may choose to take home more money than others. If you know in advance that a divorce is coming down for you and your spouse, then you may even be tempted to hide income to avoid paying special maintenance. It could be possible to doctor the books of your business to show that your business is less profitable than your spouse would have imagined or to show that your income is lower than it is. Not only can this impact that potential award special maintenance but also child support. To this extent, there are certainly benefits, in an underhanded way, when it comes to hiding your assets.

On the other hand, let's put yourself in the shoes of a spouse who is needing spousal maintenance after a divorce. If you have been a stay-at-home parent or otherwise have not earned an income during your marriage, then you may now be in a position where you are having to confront the idea of going out into the workforce to earn a living for your family. Even earning a disproportionate share of your community estate in the divorce may not be enough to necessarily keep your head above water in your case. When your minimum needs cannot be met by other means special maintenance may be the best option for you. 

if this is true, then reading the preceding paragraphs about how a person can potentially hide income in a divorce may be troubling to you. If you have never worked within the business with your spouse, then you may have no idea about the ways that your spouse could conceivably hide income from you. That hidden income not only could affect the division of your community estate but also whether you could be ordered to receive special maintenance. Fortunately, there are ways to hold your spouse accountable for the process and you should not spend every waking hour in concern for your well-being after a divorce.

For one, trying to lie to a family court judge is not a good idea. An experienced family law attorney can also be tough to fool when it comes to trying to hide income. In the age of social media trying to hide come can even be more difficult considering how the entire world can see what kind of lifestyle you lead. Fancy trips with your family, nice clothes, and a great lifestyle do not necessarily go hand in hand with the person whose business is struggling or someone who cannot afford to pay a reasonable amount of special maintenance.

Trying to adjust your taxable income is a crime that is otherwise known as tax fraud. It is certainly possible for your spouse to assert that you underreported your income on your taxes with the goal of not paying as much in child support or Spousal maintenance. There are ways for you to minimize your liability when it comes to spousal maintenance that does not involve lying to your attorney, spouse, the opposing lawyer, the judge, and the IRS. Even if he managed to fool one person or another the likelihood of fooling all these groups of people is not very high.

To summarize, alimony in Texas is broken down into contractual alimony and spousal maintenance. Contractual alimony is negotiated between you and your spouse before a trial. on the other hand, it's about so maintenance can only be ordered by a family court judge after a trial and has significant limitations for both eligibility and duration of the award. To position yourself as best as possible when it comes to either paying or receiving spousal maintenance you should work with an experienced family law attorney in Texas.

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. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

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