What can I do to minimize Divorce costs?

An image of a wedding ring and a document about divorce

Going through a divorce can be one of the most challenging periods of your life. Things are likely to be difficult both emotionally and financially even if the split is amicable. Moreover, divorces can quickly turn messy and have the potential to be incredibly expensive. Unfortunately, time is often the only thing that can finally help to heal the emotional wounds, but at least you can attempt to make sure your divorce doesn’t also destroy you financially. Therefore, read on to learn everything you need to know to hopefully minimize your divorce costs.

Understanding the True Cost of Divorce

Simply saying divorce can be expensive is a bit of an understatement. The truth is that few if any, other events in your life can have as big and as instant of an impact on your finances. Depending on the terms of the divorce, you could essentially end up losing half of all of your money, property, and possessions overnight—no matter whether you were the family’s main or even sole earner.

Not only that, but you could potentially end up spending thousands in legal fees on top of that. Exactly how much you can expect to pay depends in part on where you live as both lawyer and court fees can vary quite drastically from city to city and state to state. Nonetheless, the fact that the US average for divorce costs ranges anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 should serve as sufficient evidence of just how expensive splitting up with your partner can really be.

Litigation Always Equals Increased Costs

Not taking into account any money or property you give up as part of your divorce settlement, the single biggest part of your total divorce costs will usually go straight to your divorce lawyer. A good family lawyer is never going to be cheap, but their knowledge and experience usually make it more than worth paying for their time.

The issue is that contested divorces can be extremely complicated. This can mean lots of hours of work on the part of your lawyer to help sort out issues with splitting up your possessions, alimony payments, etc. Things become even more difficult when children are involved since you now also have to negotiate custody and child support issues.

In this sense, the single biggest thing you can to do lessen the overall costs of your divorce is to come to some sort of agreement with your spouse beforehand. If your divorce ends up having to be contested in court, both you and your partner will be on the losing end due to the increased legal fees. Therefore, it is well worth trying arbitration or some other method of reaching an agreement. Absolutely anything is better than litigation in most cases since it can be incredibly destructive and expensive.

An Expensive Lawyer Doesn’t Necessarily Mean a Good Lawyer

Your choice of Dallas family lawyer can also have a huge impact on the total costs of your divorce. In this sense, it’s not only how much the lawyer charges per hour that’s important, but also what they do with their time. One thing you never want to do is hire a lawyer and give them carte blanche to bill you for as many hours as they want. Instead, it is better to either try to negotiate a fixed rate or at least make sure your chosen lawyer regularly gives you full breakdowns on the costs you’ve incurred so far. A professional legal firm should easily be able to explain exactly how their time was spent working on your case and why each of their actions was necessary or productive in terms of helping you achieve your goals.

The fact that divorce can be so destructive to so many different aspects of your life means it is essential that you get the help you need in the form of an experienced Dallas family lawyer. Attorney Robert Thornton has years of experience helping people get through their divorce in the most effective and efficient way possible, and this makes Thornton Law a fantastic choice for anyone worried about struggling with the expenses of their pending divorce. Therefore, don’t hesitate to contact us to see how our family law specialists can help to limit the damage caused by your divorce.

For more information on our Dallas Family Lawyer, please visit our site.

How is Spousal Maintenance decided and can it be Modified?

One spouse paying spousal maintenance to his ex wife

When a couple is married, it isn’t uncommon for one person to work while the other stays home to care for the kids. It also isn’t uncommon for one spouse to have fewer or less valuable assets than the other. In a divorce, the spouse who has greater financial resources may be ordered to provide cash payments to the one who has fewer financial resources.

How Is Spousal Maintenance Decided?

There are many factors that determine if a person is allowed to receive financial support from a spouse after a divorce is finalized. For instance, a judge may consider the length of the marriage as a key factor in their ruling. Generally speaking, a person is more likely to receive maintenance payments if a marriage lasted for 10 years or more.

A judge can also look at the earning potential of each spouse after the marriage ends. An individual who has a college degree and relevant job skills may receive less money or receive fewer payments compared to someone who lacks an education or job skills. However, an individual may be ordered to enroll in classes or take other steps to become employable in a reasonable amount of time.

An individual’s age at the time of a divorce can also be a factor in how much spousal maintenance is awarded. Typically, older individuals are more likely to receive payments as they may be seen as less likely to be able to obtain a job that maintains a reasonable standard of living. Dallas family lawyer Robert Thornton may be able to explain in greater detail how these or other factors may apply in a spousal support ruling.

Can Spousal Support Be Modified After an Order Is Granted?

It is possible for a spousal support order to be modified for a variety of reasons. In fact, requests for spousal support order modifications occur in roughly 80 percent of divorce cases in which it is granted. Just as there are many reasons for creating spousal support orders, there are many reasons why they could be modified.

For example, a payee could have lost their job or encountered other unexpected expenses. If a recipient gets married, that may also influence their eligibility for future payments. Speaking with Dallas family lawyer Robert Thornton can make it easier to understand how or why an order may be modified and the impact it could have on your finances.

Those who have questions about the process of obtaining spousal support or modifying an order should contact Robert Thornton today. Working with a Dallas family law professional may make it easier to understand your rights and obtain a favorable outcome in your case.

For more information on our Dallas Spousal Maintenance Lawyer, please visit our site.

My spouse had more debt when we married, do I have to pay?

Dallas Divorce Debt Attorney

Finances may not be the top concern when a marriage comes to an end but sooner or later, you are bound to find yourself asking important questions about who is responsible for the debt. How debt is divided in a divorce can depend on many factors, including the type of debt, the agreement with creditors, and when the debt was acquired.

California is a community property state which means all income and debt earned during a marriage belong equally to both spouses. The key is this only applies to debt that is earned during the marriage. Debt that existed prior to the marriage date is treated very differently during divorce.

How Premarital Debt Is Treated in Divorce

If your spouse came into the marriage with pre-existing debt, you will not be financially responsible for the debt. Just like the income and property each spouse had before marriage, any debt that was incurred before the marriage is considered separate property. Even if a married couple chooses to pay down separate debts together with marital income, the remaining pre-existing debt in a divorce will still belong to the spouse who incurred the debt.

Separate debt can become marital debt in two ways: if you have your name added to a pre-existing debt or you agree to take over the debt in the divorce. This is sometimes the case with pre-existing secured debt.

Secured Debt in a Divorce

Secured debt is secured by some type of collateral, usually a home or a car. It’s not uncommon for secured debt to be in the name of only one spouse even though both spouses use the collateral. For example, one spouse may enter into the marriage with a home and a mortgage but both spouses live in the home and use the marital income to continue paying the mortgage. The home has also appreciated in value which does create community property.

Let’s say for example one spouse owns a home before marriage and it is never occupied by the spouses together or used as a marital home, the mortgage is paid off, and no marital money is used to maintain or pay for the home, the other spouse has no right to the home or any passive appreciation. When both spouses contribute either sweat equity or money to the home, it’s considered active appreciation and the other spouse may have a right to some of the home’s value.

This can also affect the mortgage debt itself. Even though the debt may be in one spouse’s name and the home was bought before the marriage, both spouses may agree that the other spouse will keep the home, especially if they have primary custody of the children. In this case, the court may try to make the division more equitable by awarding the spouse who bought the home with additional assets.

As a general rule, you don’t need to worry about being responsible for or paying for a spouse’s debt that was acquired prior to the marriage. Still, debt can become complicated in some cases, especially when it involves a home or marital assets and income that comingles. It’s usually best to discuss debts with a family law attorney like Robert Thornton before deciding if any debt should be paid before the divorce. Contact Thornton Law for a consultation with a Dallas family lawyer to discuss your concerns and protect your interests in a divorce.

For more information on our Dallas Divorce Debt Attorney, please visit our site.

Why it’s important to speak to an experienced Trial Attorney

A gavel and some law books out of focus.

From celebrities to everyday working people, issues surrounding Family Law can have a big impact on people’s lives. A recent Time magazine article stated that while divorce rates in the United States have been declining, still approximately 17 of every 1000 individuals experience a divorce each year. Along with divorce comes a myriad of other issues. Child custody, child support, division of assets and the payment of debt obligations are just some of the issues which may arise in a typical divorce.

While some divorces are resolved amicably and equitably, this is not always the case. When disputes arise, the resulting stress and anxiety can take a heavy toll on all of the parties involved. For most people engaging in a custody dispute or a divorce, it is a new and sometimes very difficult experience. The disruption to lives that occurs during the dissolution of a relationship can take a heavy emotional toll on everyone involved.

In addition, Texas law surrounding the resolution of these issues can be quite complex. In these types of situations, it is both prudent and wise to retain an attorney to serve as a guide through the legal system. If the need should arise for a trial, it is vital to arrange for competent legal counsel to represent your interests in the courts. Failing to do so could result in court rulings that could have an adverse impact on your life for many years to come.

Attorney Robert Thornton is a knowledgeable and experienced guide who can help you navigate your way through the legal system. Even in an amicable divorce is a good idea to have someone ensure that you receive a fair and equitable settlement. In more difficult situations, an attorney will ensure that your rights are protected under Texas law. You need an advocate who will stand up for you and your rights during this difficult period in your life. Our law firm can help you.

If you have already been through a divorce, you may still find yourself in need of a Family Law attorney. Due to life changes, you may have a need to renegotiate custody arrangements. In addition, a recent United States government census report indicated that less than half of custodial parents who had received a child support award received full payment of that amount. Attorney Robert Thornton can assist you in obtaining the child support payments awarded to you.

If you are in need of a Family Law attorney, Thornton Law PLLC has a lengthy and strong track record for helping families in the greater Dallas area. Robert Thornton can provide you with guidance and the legal expertise to help you through this difficult and stressful time in your life. His legal knowledge and experience will ensure that you receive what is fair under the law and that your rights are protected.

For more information on our Dallas Trial Attorney, please visit our site.

What is Joint Custody?

Child custody can affect a child's life forever.

Child custody is called conservatorship in Dallas. Child custody agreements must conform to the Uniform Child Custody Act. The Act seeks to decrease the possibility of conflicts when parents live in different states. Conservatorship is fluid and parents usually rely on family law lawyers like Robert Thornton to explain the complexity of joint custody.

What is Joint Conservatorship?

Joint custody is the legal right for both parents to live with and make decisions about their child. This custody option often requires both parents to make discuss decisions and come to an agreement about issues like where their children go to school. Joint custody is an alternative to sole custody.

Sole custody is granted to only one parent. They may decide where the child lives and/or how they are raised depending on the type of custody arrangement they have. The other parent receives visitation right. Visitation allows the other parent to spend time with their child. It may be supervised or unsupervised. Supervised visitation means a third party watches the parent and child interact. Abuse or neglect is usually the reason for supervised visitations.

Joint Custody Has Two Options

Joint custody is separated into two legal rights: legal and physical joint custody. A legal joint conservatorship allows both parents to make decisions about how their child is raised. For instance, parents decided where their child attends school and what type of medical care the child receives.

Joint physical conservatorship focuses on where the child lives. Joint custody gives each parent 50 percent custody rights. This means the parents must agree on when the child lives with each parent. It often takes some negotiation because parents aren’t always on speaking terms. Also, the negotiations are tough because they must come up with the right parenting schedule that agrees with each parent’s work schedule.

What Happens if Parents Who have Joint Conservatorship Don’t Agree?

Parents sometimes don’t agree on an issue such as which religion a child will practice. Many parents rely on their family law lawyer to help them take the heated emotions out of the negotiations. If negotiations fail, either parent can seek legal recourse in court.

A family law hearing is scheduled. Both parents present their cases. The presiding family court judge makes a ruling. The ruling may be in favor of one parent or hybrid ruling where both parents get what they want. It could be a ruling that both parents are don’t like. This can happen because a family court judge always bases their ruling on what is in the best interest of the child, not the parents.

Always Contact a Family Law Lawyer about Joint Custody

Raising a child requires a lot of decision-making. Child custody is also ever-changing. Thus, parents need to make sure they are following Dallas child custody laws and work together when they have joint custody. A parent needs a family law lawyer like Robert Thornton to help them understand child custody issues, and get the best possible outcome available in their situation. A family lawyer is always a good idea to represent them in court hearings too.

For more information on our Dallas Child Custody Attorney, please visit our site.

What is the Role of a Trial Attorney?

Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept.

Many people in Texas deal with family law issues. This could involve estate matters or disputes of inheritance, divorce and child custody and a variety of other issues. These legal matters are very important to family members and the outcome of these cases often impacts those involved for the rest of their lives. To this end, it is vitally important that you get the best representation possible for your case. While there are many family law firms available to choose from in Dallas, there is one important and distinguishing factor that may set them apart: their experience with handling trials.

Many of our clients may assume every lawyer understands how to handle a trial, appear before a judge and jury, and argue a case in court. They may be surprised to learn that this is often not the case. In fact, many attorneys, even those with years of experience, may have never actually taken a case to trial or appeared in court to represent their clients. This is likely due to the fact that most civil lawyers, such as those who practice family law, often don’t have to take their cases to trial. Roughly 90 percent of all family law cases are settled out of court. This may be done through a settlement offer that avoids trial or through a less intensive resolution process such as mediation.

Most attorneys encourage making a settlement or going through mediation. There are many reasons for this that do benefit clients. A trial can become very expensive, so avoiding one often saves the client a great deal of money in legal expenses. Trials often prolong a case and may take months or even years to resolve fully. From a family law perspective, a trial is often seen as the most negative outcome, showing that spouses or family members involved cannot come to terms and must have their disputes decided for them.

That said, having a trial lawyer on your side is vitally important. A lawyer and the client may do everything possible to avoid going to trial, but the attorney must always be prepared to go to trial. They must be prepared to argue their case before a judge or jury and represent the client to the best of their ability in court. Since many lawyers have little experience doing this, those who do have the experience and expertise are far more likely to be successful in the courtroom.

The need for a skilled trial lawyer is one of the many reasons to hire an attorney from an experienced firm that does not shy away from the courtroom. Sometimes a trial is simply the best way to resolve a case in the client’s favor. A Dallas Family Lawyer like Robert Thornton has experience as a trial lawyer and will not hesitate to bring your case to the courtroom if that is the best option for you. They will represent you at every step of the process. This means examining your case in its entirety, possibly suggesting means to reach a settlement or mediation and representing you throughout each step. If you have a family law matter to resolve, contact Thornton Law today.

For more information on our Dallas Trial Attorney, please visit our site.

What happens if my spouse and I can’t agree on Custody of our Children?

Sad little boy hearing his parents arguing in a kitchen about child custody matters

We know you want what’s best for your children, and we can help you achieve an outcome in your favor. Child custody matters are serious and can prove to be complicated and confusing. On top of that, spouses often disagree on custody issues. Drawn-out custody battles can cause unnecessary emotional distress for children. Hiring an attorney like Robert Thornton, who is experienced in family law, can make all the difference in bringing about the best possible outcome for you and your children.

Types of Custody in Texas

In Texas, there are two types of custody: joint and sole custody. Joint custody means that both parents will have equal rights to the child and will share equal responsibility, even if the child or children live primarily with one parent while the other parent has visitation. Custody rights include accessing the child’s records (medical, dental, psychological, educational), being able to consent to any needed treatments, and communicating with the child’s school. The courts often lean heavily toward joint custody in order to preserve family relationships.

There are different types of joint custody in Texas. Joint legal custody means the child or children live primarily with one parent while the other has visitation. Both parents share the decision-making rights. Another type is shared custody. This is when the children live with each parent for at least 35% of the time. Finally, split custody is less common. This occurs when the children are separated, and each parent has full custody of at least one of the children.

Sole custody occurs when only one parent is given the rights and responsibility to the children. This only occurs when one parent is considered unfit for one of many reasons such as drug/alcohol abuse, a history of criminal activity, domestic violence issues, or being absent from the child’s life. Navigating sole custody is especially challenging and is best attempted with the help of an experienced attorney.

What to Do

Obviously, there are several options available for custody. In the end, a judge will make the final decision on what is in the best interest of the children. The court will look for the best home available for the children, each parents’ ability to care for them, the parents’ financial abilities, and many other issues when making a ruling. This is why it’s a good idea to find the right representation for your case in and out of the courtroom. It’s important to get legal help especially when your spouse disagrees with your plan of action. At Thornton Law, we can help you navigate the legal process, prepare you for court, and prepare and file complicated paperwork for the court.

If you’re looking for the best possible outcome for you and your children, we can help. Contact us at Thornton Law; we’re here to help you understand the process and your rights.

For more information on one of the Best Family Law Attorneys in Dallas, please visit our site.

Does Paternity Establishment affect Visitation and Custody?

Dad walking with his daughter in a park - Child Visitation Schedules

Establishing paternity is the first step to getting child custody or visitation rights in Texas. It also carries other rights and responsibilities with it such as requiring the father to provide support for the child and allowing the child to inherit from the father in the event of the father’s death.

It is not necessary to establish paternity if the parents are married at the time of the child’s birth. In that case, it is automatically assumed that the husband is the father’s child, and his name is included on the birth certificate. Paternity can also be voluntarily established at the time of the child’s birth or shortly after. The father simply needs to sign a form called an acknowledgment of paternity.

It is also possible to establish voluntary paternity after the time for signing the acknowledgment of paternity has passed. A Dallas family lawyer may be able to assist parents at this time in obtaining the paternity order. The parents must agree about custody, visitation and health care. The attorney may also be able to assist the parents if the mother’s husband was not the child’s father but the husband was listed on the birth certificate.

Paternity may also be established even if the father is unwilling to acknowledge the child. A mother can get a court order that compels the father to submit to DNA testing. A father can also get assistance from an attorney in establishing paternity if he believes he is the father of a child but the mother is denying him access.

Having a relationship with the father can be critical to a child’s well-being and development. It can also be important for a mother who can draw on the financial help the father is required to provide. For fathers, the process of struggling to get custody or visitation rights to a child when the mother is trying to block access can be heartbreaking. In all of these situations, a Dallas family lawyer such as Robert Thornton may be able to help.

Robert Thornton blends a no-nonsense approach to family law with compassion and works to get the best possible outcome for parents and children. Thornton Law is dedicated to helping parents and children even when the traditional ties of marriage have been dissolved or do not exist, and the firm has a record of positive outcomes in family law cases.

Establishing paternity can mean that the parents share custody of the child, or the child may have a visitation schedule that includes some weekends and weekdays with one parent while living primarily with the other parent.

The office of the Texas Attorney General has more information on establishing paternity. If you are in Dallas, Texas, contact Thornton Law to discuss your case and the ways in which the firm may be able to assist you in establishing paternity and helping you get the best result for your child and your family.

For more information on our Dallas Child Support Attorney, please visit our site.

How long does it take to finalize a Divorce in Texas?

A couple arguing at the end of their relationship

A divorce is the legal end of a marriage which allows both spouses to remarry without committing bigamy. Bigamy is the act of marrying more than one person at the same time. How long it takes to finalize a divorce in Dallas, Texas depends on how cooperative the spouses are in ending their marriage and other factors.

Texas Family Law Requires a 60-Day Waiting Period after the Divorce Petition is Filed

According to Texas family law, it requires every couple filing for divorce to wait 60 days from the day the petition was filed in court. The fastest a divorce can be finalized in Dallas is 61 days. This means the couple waited through the 60-day waiting period and no marriage-related issues slowed the divorce proceedings. It can take longer depending on the court docket. Thus, if a lot of couples are getting divorced at the same time, it may take longer for a family court judge to finalize the divorce. However, it will take a shorter time than if the marriage is contested.

A Spouse can obtain a Divorce even if the other Spouse Contests the Divorce

According to FindLaw, an uncontested divorce is a divorce proceeding where spouses agree to legally end the marriage and on marriage-related issues. These issues arose during the marriage and include child custody, the division of property and spousal support. When a couple cannot agree on these issues such as who keeps the house, their divorce drags on for a longer time. Other factors come into play such as the court’s schedule and the complexity of contested issues. The latter often involves high assets divorce.

One of the most important factors that determine how long a divorce takes to finalize is the conduct of the spouses. A divorce process is an emotional time in a person’s life. It doesn’t matter if the spouse wanted the divorce or not. It takes a lot of time and emotional energy to resolve marital issues. Sometimes, one or both spouses will fight over an issue such as child custody. This takes more time to finalize a divorce. It can take several months or years to finalize a divorce when both parties don’t agree.

This instance, it’s helpful to have a Dallas divorce lawyer to help a spouse resolve issues quickly. For example, if the spouse is intent on punishing their spouse, their lawyer can get them to focus on ending the marriage instead. If it is the other spouse who refuses to work on resolving an issue, the lawyer will work to negotiate a fair settlement.

Understanding the Divorce Process in Dallas

A Dallas divorce lawyer like Robert Thornton has represented many individuals in their divorces. In fact, Thornton Law has helped numerous spouses resolve their marital issues and achieve favorable outcomes for them. No one ever gets married to get divorced. Divorce happens, Thornton Law helps clients understand Dallas divorce laws, how the laws affect the outcome and what their options are to quickly finalize their divorce. Contact Bob today to schedule a case evaluation.

For more information on our Dallas Divorce Lawyer, please visit our site.

What is Community Property?

Community Property in Dallas

Texas is one of nine states considered a community property state. This means that in a divorce, most property acquired during the marriage is considered the property of both spouses and must be divided “equitably” under Texas law. Understanding the difference between community and separate property is important to understand how assets and even debts will be divided in a divorce.

What Is Considered Community Property?

As a general rule, property acquired during the marriage is considered as belonging to both spouses equally. Community property may include the family home, the mortgage interest income earned by investments, furniture, and wages earned during the marriage by either spouse. A pension, 401k, or employee benefit plan that accumulates during the marriage is also considered community property.

Separate property is considered any property or debt that was owned prior to the marriage or after the date of separation. Gifts and inheritances received during the marriage are also considered separate property if held separately.

Some property may begin as separate property and become community property during the marriage. For example, some equity in the family home may be separate property if the down payment was provided by one spouse’s separate property prior to marriage but it may become community property as time goes by and assets are mixed. This is also true of an inheritance. While an inheritance is considered separate property, even if it’s received during the marriage, it can become community property if the inheritance is mixed with marital funds and no separation is maintained.

The definition of community property can be changed with a prenuptial agreement or a postnup. By signing a written agreement, some or all community property in a marriage can be made separate property or vice versa.

How Is Community Property Divided?

Texas courts have a goal of dividing community property equitably, which is not necessarily 50/50. A judge may consider each spouse’s earning capacity, which has primary custody of any children, whether there are fault grounds for divorce, the health and age of each spouse, and more. For example, the spouse who is the primary custodian of the children may be awarded the family home in the divorce but the judge may award a larger share of other marital assets to the other spouse to make the arrangement more equitable.

Division of community assets can be quite complicated and contentious. When it comes to a pension or retirement account, for example, each spouse may own a portion of the benefit but these accounts do not need to be divided 50/50 between spouses. If each spouse has their own pension or retirement account, the court may simply award each spouse their own account if they have a similar balance or award other community property to make up for the difference between the two. If the divorce involves a closely held business or even a professional practice, it may be considered community property. Of course, a business can’t be divided like other assets so an appraiser or CPA may be hired to determine the value of the business.

The division of assets is often one of the most contentious and stressful aspects of a divorce. How assets and property are divided can also have a long-term financial impact, depending on the court’s decision. If you are planning to file for divorce, a family law attorney can help you explore your options and protect your best interests. Robert Thornton at Thornton Law has helped many families in Dallas, Texas resolve complicated issues while seeking a favorable outcome. Contact Robert Thornton today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

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