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.

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.

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.

To read more about our Dallas Family Lawyer, please visit our site.

Dealing With Property in a Texas Divorce

Texas is a community property state. Community means the property belongs to both spouses. Property acquired during the marriage is community property. Even property that was acquired while domiciled outside of Texas, but being dealt with in a Texas divorce, is community property. Texas Family Code 3.003 says that property possessed at the time of the divorce filing is presumed to be community property. Presumes means a court will make an assumption about the property, until someone proves otherwise. That is an important point-when a divorce is filed, you have to take active steps to protect and keep your separate property. You must prove it. Any doubt about the property is resolved in favor if the community estate. So if your lawyer asks for deeds, receipts and other documents, get them. Quickly. This relates to my article on the discovery process. More likely than not, if a trial is pending, one party will serve requests for information about your separate property. If you do not answer them, you will not be able to bring that evidence up at the trial. One of the alligator pits of family law litigation.

Separate property is property that exists apart from the marriage.

Separate Property in Texas:

personal injury settlements
gifts
inheritance
property owned before marriage.

For example, say you own a house before you get married. When you file for divorce, the court will assume that the house belongs to both you and your spouse. The court does not know the nature of the property until you tell it. You bring the deed and mortgage documents to court to show when you bought the house. Then, the court will find that the house is your separate property. Separate property is not subject to a just and right division. In other words, separate property does not go into the “pot” to be divided up.

Gifts of Property

When talking about marriage and divorce in Texas, the issue of gifts can be complicated. Gifts to a spouse from a third party are separate property. Gifts from one spouse to another spouse are separate property. Income from a third party gift is community property. Income from a spousal gift is….separate property. So says Texas Family Code 3.005. The court will look to the spouse’s intent to figure out what is what.

What happens when a spouse uses separate property to purchase property that is used by the marriage? Well, this comes up when a spouse uses separate money to purchase or help purchase a house for the marriage. The house is often taken in both parties’ names. This creates a presumption (lots of those in family law) that the spouse using separate property money intended to give the other spouse a one-half interest in that property as a gift. The spouse who spent their separate money must beat the presumption by proof of what they intended when the transaction occurred.

Personal Injury Settlements

Personal injury settlements are separate property. EXCEPT: the part of a personal injury settlement that stands for loss of earning capacity. Texas Family Code 3.001(3).

Property Acquired by Agreement

Spouses can agree in a written agreement that certain property they have acquired or will acquire in the future, is separate property and that income or property arising from a spouse’s separate property will remain separate property. Texas Constitution Article 16, Section 15 and Texas Family Code Section 4.102. This is called a partition agreement.

Spouses can agree in a written right-of-survivorship agreement that all property subject to the agreement will become the separate property of the surviving spouse after the other spouse dies. Texas Constitution, Article 16, Section15.

During a divorce in Texas, property acquired by a spouse while domiciled in another state is considered separate property if it would have been separate property had the spouse been domiciled in Texas when it was acquired. Texas Family Code Section 7.002(b)(1). This is called “quasi-separate property.”

Dealing with Divorce Debt

Just because a debt was run up during the marriage does not always mean both spouses are liable. To be liable for a spouse’s debt depends on the type of goods or services the debt purchased and which property the creditor is trying to get. Basically, if your name is on the debt, you must pay for it. There is no community debt as such. EXCEPTION: the exception is if the debt was run up for life’s necessities, such as food, clothing, housing, maybe those connected to automobiles, both spouses are liable. I should also mention that even though a spouse is not obligated to pay a debt, payment of debt can be agreed to and made part of a settlement.

What’s The Difference Between Alimony and Spousal Support?

Alimony or Spousal Support?

If you’ve been ordered to pay child support in the state of Texas, but you can no longer afford the required amount, you need to speak to an attorney. In Texas, non-custodial parents are required to pay child support until their child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from college. The ordered child support is based on the non-custodial parents’ income. If your income has recently changed, you may be able to request a modification of the order. However, you will need to go to court for that. Here are three reasons why you need to hire an experienced family law attorney before you request a modification to the current orders.

An Attorney will Understand the Law

When it comes to modifying the amount of support you pay for your child each month, there are specific laws that need to be considered. A family law attorney understands those laws, and how they apply to your specific situation. They’ll be able to help you receive the modification you need, based on the current support laws.

An Attorney will File the Appropriate Paperwork

If you’re going to be requesting a modification to your support orders, you’ll need to use the appropriate documentation. Each document will need to be filed in the correct order if you want your case to be heard. If you’re not familiar with the laws, you may file the wrong paperwork, which will jeopardize your case. However, your family law attorney will know exactly what paperwork needs to be filed, and when.

An Attorney will Know the Time Constraints

You might not realize this, but there are specific deadlines in place for filing court documents. Each legal document required for your case will have a deadline requirement attached to it. Failure to meet those deadlines may result in your case being denied. Unfortunately, if your case is denied due to deadline issues, you’ll be required to refile all the paperwork again. By hiring an attorney, you can avoid those deadline issues, which will ensure that your support modification case is processed in a timely manner.

Don’t jeopardize your support modification case. If you need to have your support orders modified, you need to first start by speaking to a family law attorney such as Thornton Law in Plano, TX. Trying to represent yourself in a support modification case could prevent you from receiving the assistance you need. The help of an attorney can make all the difference!

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

What Happens In Texas If My Spouse Wants A Divorce But I Don’t?

If you’ve been hit with divorce papers, then know that you’re not alone. It’s actually pretty common for spouses to be served papers for a divorce that they don’t want to participate in, and we here at Thornton Law have witnessed this.

Here are some of the most common reasons why a spouse wouldn’t agree to a divorce:

1. They were side-swiped by the news of a pending divorce

It’s not uncommon for spouses to feel side-swiped by the news that their spouse wants a divorce. In your mind, the news might seemingly come from nowhere, but to your spouse who has actually filed for the divorce, it’s been getting closer to this outcome for a long time, in a variety of ways. In their mind, they’ve tried to warn you, but you haven’t paid attention.

2. They’re still emotionally involved

Few things are more painful than knowing that your spouse wants a divorce and you don’t, because you still have strong feelings for them. This is why the law in Texas requires a 61 day cooling off period in divorce proceedings.

As it’s fairly common for couples to reconcile after divorce papers have been filed, Texas requires a time for the spouses to make absolutely sure that they want to divorce. But you should note that if after the 61 day cooling off period has passed, your spouse still wants to move forward with the divorce, then they have the legal right to do so, regardless of how you feel about it.

3. They don’t want another person to be with their spouse

One of the most common reasons for divorces is adultery. If your spouse has found someone new to love, then they’ll need to divorce you in order to marry the other person. And even if there was no physical adultery, your spouse might decide that they’re in love with another person, and they want to continue on with life with the new person. This fact might break your heart, but since Texas is a no-fault state regarding divorce filings, your spouse has the right to initiate divorce proceedings, even if you don’t want the new person to be with your current spouse.

4. They don’t want to see the other spouse move on with their life

Sometimes, there doesn’t have to be a new person involved. You might feel that your life is going to be empty without your current spouse, and how dare they decide to start a new life without you in it? Therefore, you might feel tempted to cause them the same misery you feel, by refusing to sign papers. However, Texas law allows your spouse to leave you, regardless of how you feel about it.

5. They’re concerned about the welfare of the children

Many don’t want to divorce because they’re worried about the welfare of their children. If you and your spouse have minor children, then provisions will be made during the divorce proceedings for the financial and emotional welfare of your children. Texas law can’t force a spouse to remain married for the sake of the children, but the law will protect their welfare, as much as possible.

Divorce isn’t an easy time for you to endure, but we here at Thornton Law can help you to understand your rights and options from a legal perspective. The fact is, your spouse doesn’t need your permission to divorce you, but you can leave your marriage with your community and family rights intact. Contact us today, it can make a great difference in your case!

For more information on our Plano Divorce Attorney please visit our site.

How to File for a Divorce in Texas

In Texas, petitions are filed to end a marriage due to an irretrievable breakdown. Petitioners have the right to choose any grounds that apply when starting their case. The petitioner must meet all the requirements to receive a final decree. Local attorneys provide assistance for individuals who need answers about filing for a divorce.

The Prerequisites of Filing

All petitioners must meet the residency requirements before filing. The individual must have lived in Texas for no less than six months and their current county for ninety days. Military members can file in Texas if they were stationed in the state for at least six months. Pregnant wives must provide full disclosure of their pregnancy. The state doesn’t allow wives to file a petition until after the child’s birth. A failure to disclose the pregnancy could nullify the final decree and lead to fraud charges.

What Grounds are Used in Texas?

Adultery or infidelity is a common fault-based ground used in cases. It indicates that a spouse was involved in an extramarital affair. Evidence of the affair is used to support the claim.

Abandonment indicates that the defendant left the marital home without any intentions of returning. The standard requirement for the ground is one year. However, couples could claim abandonment after one year or indicate that they’ve lived separate lives after three years.

Incarceration and mental incapacity are also grounds used in the proceedings. A spouse must be in prison for at least one year to claim incarceration grounds or be admitted into a mental facility for no less than three years to use mental incapacity or insanity as the grounds.

Intolerable cruelty or domestic violence require evidence of threats or abuse. A record of arrests for abuse or domestic violence provides evidence to support the claim. The petitioner also acquires a protection order to protect them or their children from additional attacks.

How are Marital Properties and Assets Divided?

A community property state requires an even split of all marital assets. The assets include but are not limited to the marital home, automobiles, pension and/or retirement plans, IRAs, and stocks and/or savings accounts. Additional monetary payments are provided to balance out any shortcomings in marital property divisions.

Conditions that Apply to Spousal Support

A petitioner receives alimony if their spouse was convicted of domestic violence and/or if the couple has been married for no less than ten years. If alimony is awarded, the duration and value of the payments depend on specific factors.

The spouse receives alimony if their earning capacity prevents them from supporting themselves after the divorce. The spousal support is provided to cover specific medical expenses and/or to support them if the spouse has a disability that prevents them from working. The payments are provided while a spouse completes career-based training or degree program.

Temporary alimony is provided until the spouse completes the educational program and increases their earning capacity. Lifetime alimony is provided when it was included in a prenuptial agreement. It is also required if the spouse is unable to increase their earning capacity due to their age or a permanent condition. The lifetime alimony arrangements end if the individual remarries.

In Texas, petitioners file a motion to end their marriage when it isn’t possible to continue the relationship due to intolerable conditions. The petitioners must follow all laws associated with their case. Petitioners who are ready to start a petition contact Thornton Law in Plano, Texas, directly or visit https://www.boblawyer.com/ to schedule an appointment now.

For more information on our Plano Family Attorney please visit our site.

How is Debt Divided in a Divorce in Texas?

If you are heading to a dissolution of your marriage, you need to have a basic understanding of the divorce process in Texas. One of the areas in which you need to become familiar is the manner in which a Texas court divides debt in a divorce case.

Equitable Division of Assets and Debts

The state of Texas utilizes the equitable division of property standard in a divorce case. Under this legal standard, the assets and debts of a married couple are subject to being divided in a manner that is deemed fair and equitable based on the facts and circumstances of a case.

Equitable division does not mean that the debts accumulated by the parties to a divorce during a marriage are split equally between them. An equal division only occurs if that proves to be the fair way in which debt should be distributed between the spouses.

Equitable division of assets and debts can be contrasted with the community property standard. The community property standard does require an even division of assets and debts unless there exists a compelling reason to divide in a different manner.

The equitable division standard is used in the majority of states in the United States. The community property standard is used in about 10 states, including California.

What is Marital Debt?

Only marital debt is subject to division in a divorce case. In other words, if a spouse accumulated debt before a marriage, those financial liabilities are not subject to division during divorce proceedings. The same holds true for assets or property.

If a spouse accumulated some type of debt without the knowledge of the other spouse, the individual who did this may well be responsible for dealing with this debt on their own following a divorce. The other spouse will not be penalized for the misconduct of the spouse that secretly accumulated debt during the marriage.

Financial Disclosures at the Start of a Divorce Case

When a divorce case commences in Texas, both spouses are required by law to complete financial disclosure statements to the court and to the other spouse. These disclosures represent a starting point in determining what assets and debts are going to be subject to distribution during the marriage dissolution proceedings.

Retain a Skilled Texas Divorce Lawyer from Thornton Law in Plano, Texas

It’s best to protect your legal rights in a marriage dissolution case by taking a proactive approach and retaining a skilled, experienced Texas divorce lawyer, like Robert Thornton at Thornton Law in Plano, Texas. The first step in hiring a divorce attorney is to schedule an initial consultation.

During the initial consultation, a lawyer will provide an evaluation of your case. You will have the opportunity to ask questions, including about the Texas divorce process.

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