Paul McCartney wrote, “I go back so far, I’m ahead of myself.” Right on, Sir Paul!
Indeed, I’ve become a sage guide on this perilous part life’s river. While the rapids and the rocks are the same each trip down, every crew in the raft is different, thus no trip is the same.
So it is with any divorce case.
Before you start out, read these 10 things I always tell my divorce clients… and don’t remove your life-vest!
- There’s the emotional divorce and the legal divorce; one affects the other. A divorce is no ordinary business transaction, it’s the unwinding of a relationship and even a family. Decisions are often driven by emotion rather than reason.
- In a divorce, your community estate will be divided. When considering the division of property, use your date of marriage as the starting point and then think of everything you’ve acquired since that date. Don’t forget, your retirement and other accounts are all community property if contributions have been made after marriage.
- Your creditors don’t care about your divorce. There really is no community debt. If you signed a contract promising to pay a creditor, such as a credit card application, you are obligated to pay the balance regardless of what’s in your divorce decree.
- A fair and equitable property division is not always 50-50. While most property divisions are equal, a Texas divorce court can consider many factors in dividing your community estate and, when necessary, order a disproportionate division.
- Employ a cost-benefit analysis in your divorce. Divorce lawyers charge for their time. Resistance takes time, and time is money. To get a little perspective, I always ask divorce clients to tell me where they want to be in a year. For those less introspective, I say, “don’t spend a dollar fighting for a dime.”
- Texas has spousal maintenance, not alimony. If you’re going through a divorce and expect to live “in the manner to which you’ve become accustomed,” guess again. There is no alimony in Texas. Instead, we have “spousal maintenance” which applies in few instances, lasts for a limited time, and is intended to be “rehabilitative” in nature.
- There is no legal separation in Texas. In some states, you must wait months to divorce…not here. Texas divorce law only requires a 60-day waiting period from the date of filing before finalization. In many cases though, Texas divorce courts enter temporary orders for use of property, payment of debt, and child custody while a case is pending. Hint: most divorce cases are not finalized on the 61st day after filing!
- Almost all divorce settlements occur prior to final trial, the only question is when. Once you and your spouse cut through the fog of anger and emotion in your divorce, you’ll come to an agreement. Courts order divorce mediation to encourage couples to find their own solutions.
- Things will be different after your divorce. Divorce is a reordering of the very foundations of your life. Accept that things will be different. If you were a two-income family and have extended yourselves to your limits, a budget correction may be in order.
- How you incorporate your divorce into your life’s story is up to you. I make it a point to stay in contact with my clients after their divorce. Most have processed their divorce and the inevitable loss, freeing themselves for new relationships and the next chapter of their lives. Others, sadly, live the conflict, anew, every day… refusing to move on. As I say, we play the music that is sweetest to our own ears. You make the choice.
Gregory L. Housewirth is an attorney and a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist. He has devoted his career to helping clients through life’s most challenging times.
Greg Housewirth, Attorney/Mediator
1329 College Avenue
Suite 100Fort Worth, Texas 76104
P: (817) 923-9999
F: (817) 717-5003