Divorce is a tough time for everyone, especially when there are children involved. Hard as it is to say it, however, the world keeps on turning, and divorcing couples need to settle so that they can move on to the next chapter in their lives.
If you and your spouse remain on reasonable terms, it’s generally better to seek an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces tend to be quicker and less expensive; plus, you can also avoid the damaging conflict, confrontation, and bad feelings that are sometimes associated with a court case.
With a contested divorce, the case has to go to court, typically resulting in a lengthier and more costly process. Divorcing couples often don’t realize that they’re losing control over the terms of their settlement when they go to court. Instead, it's the judge who has responsibility for the ultimate decision.
Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, your settlement still needs to address a wide range of important issues. Discover which areas you need to cover in a divorce settlement, common mistakes to avoid, what factors the courts consider, and why it’s important not to rush into a final agreement. Read on for practical, helpful, and balanced suggestions about your divorce settlement.
Several key areas in any divorce need to be covered: the division of property, assets, and debts, alimony payments, and, if you have children, custody, visitation rights, and support. Let’s explore each of those areas in a little more detail.
Don’t underestimate how much work is involved in listing your property and then deciding how to divide it. You have to take into account literally everything you own: properties, investments, autos, pensions, antiques, jewelry, and so on.
There are some exemptions and exceptions, including inheritances and property owned before the marriage. Still, by and large, you should work based on a 50/50 division, or what might be termed an equitable split. That said, couples in an uncontested divorce are free to divide up property as they wish.
You must also list any debts you hold jointly and independently and give reasons if you believe certain debts shouldn’t be shared.
After a divorce, there are two forms of ongoing financial support: alimony (also known as spousal/partner support) and child support. The overarching principle here is that spouses and children are entitled to live in a manner they’re already accustomed to. That said, whether alimony is granted depends on a number of different factors. You should also be aware that under the law, certain time limitations may apply to spousal maintenance.
Deciding on what the outcome is regarding the children is typically the most significant struggle during the divorce process. The final agreement covers physical custody (who the child lives with) and legal custody (who gets to make crucial decisions on the child’s upbringing). Both physical and legal custody can be decided on a sole or joint basis. Your divorce agreement also covers visitation rights and child support payments.
Texas is an actual no-fault divorce state, which means the person who wants to separate doesn’t have to produce evidence of any wrongdoing by the other party. However, judges in the Lone Star State are allowed to consider fault when it comes to property division.
That means it’s clearly in your interest if you can prove a fault: examples include adultery, abuse, estrangement/living apart for at least three years, and the incarceration of the other party.
It’s easy to overlook or mess up certain vital matters with so many different areas to consider in a Texas divorce settlement. For starters, you need to be extremely careful about how you choose to settle on your possessions. You may split assets on a simple financial basis, but if you have to pay tax on your assets while your partner doesn’t, you’re not getting a good deal.
Don’t forget to include pensions and long-term investments like bonds and annuities, tax liabilities, and health insurance in your calculations. If you have life insurance, it pays to reach an agreement early on who the beneficiary is. All of which leads to one final practical step after your divorce: remember to update your will to reflect your new circumstances.
Divorce is a very stressful and challenging time, and with emotions running high, you may make the wrong choices or decisions. It’s also easy to overlook small details that can have a significant impact further down the line or to be too generous to the other party in your wish to finalize everything quickly.
Rush through the process, and you may agree to something you subsequently regret. Worse still, you may face the additional cost, stress, and hassle of having to go back to court to resolve an issue.
The decisions you make in your divorce might have a severe impact on the rest of your life - and if you have children, on theirs too. So take your time to get everything right.
It’s possible to get a quickie DIY divorce online, potentially saving you time and money. But while it may be possible, it’s essential to ask yourself this question: is it wise? You could be making an expensive mistake, missing out on something important, or signing up to conditions that have unexpected consequences.
Because divorce is such a tumultuous period, many individuals decide that their best course of action is to turn to a local, experienced family lawyer’s services. A professional attorney is there to help you reach your ideal settlement. They can navigate you through all the complexities and ensure you end up with an equitable and fair agreement - one that’s robust enough to secure your future and that of your children.
By turning to a professional attorney for support, there’s a good chance that you may be able to avoid going to court altogether. Equally, if you and your partner cannot resolve your differences, an experienced lawyer can guide and support you through the entire court process and advise you on what - and what not - to do.
Divorce is likely to be one of the most stressful and challenging times in your life, so anything you can do to facilitate the process, minimize conflict, and ensure you receive a fair settlement is well worth your while. Given the potential life-changing implications of a divorce, many people conclude that their best and safest option is to work with a professional divorce lawyer.