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Many a family law client has sat in their lawyer’s office and asked, “Will I get alimony?” (or maybe, “Will I have to pay alimony?”). As with most elements of a divorce case, the answer is, “It depends.” Like with child support, the Texas Family Code specifies factors and limits used to determine what, if any, alimony might be due. In this month’s edition of Graceful Exits, we’ll look at those factors and limits and discuss how you might bolster your case for alimony.
Divorce stinks. No one embarks on this journey with joy and enthusiasm. But hidden in the pile of grief, anger, hurt, and fear that divorce brings, there is a gift: The gift of transformation.
Aside from child custody issues, dividing assets (and debts) in a divorce can be one of the most controversial elements of a case. What is considered marital or separate property? “What will become of your house, your savings account, or your 401(k) once the divorce is final?” If you haven’t been handling the finances, this part of your case may feel intimidating.
You’ve recently been served notice of a divorce petition filed by your spouse. So far, you’ve done all the right things: You’ve interviewed a few attorneys, hired one you feel comfortable with, and you’re gathering up the information they’ve asked you to put together. Everything seems right on track. Until you have a question about money. “How does the pension work?” you ask. Your attorney is a divorce professional. Certainly, they should be able to answer this question, right?
Most of us have an opinion one way or the other about how health insurance works here in the U.S. Regardless of how you feel about the current system, the fact that insurance coverage is often tied to employment means that a non-working or part-time employed spouse in a divorce proceeding may have some healthcare challenges ahead of them after the divorce. If you are in a divorce proceeding (or considering initiating a divorce) and healthcare is on your mind, this article is for you.
Depending on what side of your divorce case you are on, you may be wondering: “How much will I pay in child support?” or “How much will I get in child support?” These are key questions if you are trying to figure out post-divorce finances, and this is one of the few divorce questions we can answer with some measure of confidence.
Negotiations: We all have them nearly every day. We negotiate bedtime with a restless child. We negotiate which movie to see with friends or where to go for dinner with our partner. Depending on your job, you might even negotiate as a part of your professional life. We all do it at one point or another. If you are getting divorced, you’re likely in the middle of one of the biggest negotiations of your life. But how many of us really know how negotiating works?
Texas is a Community Property state. When a couple resides in a Community Property state, the law deems that any property acquired by either member of the couple during the marriage is jointly owned by both members of the couple regardless of how the asset might be titled or whose labor earned the money. Characterization of assets as either Community Property or Separate Property can have a big impact on the value of your divorce settlement.
The family home is often the biggest asset to be divided in a divorce. If there is significant equity, dividing it can become tricky – you may need to get creative. This article outlines some of the lesser-known ways to divide the equity in real property.
If you are newly divorced, you’ve just spent a boatload of money on experts, namely lawyers. You may, in fact, be all “experted” out. But the period just after your divorce can be a critical time. You need to implement your Divorce Decree and rebuild your financial life, and you may have a large settlement to administer. There’s nothing explicitly wrong with going it alone. Failing to work with an expert could lead to mistakes, and those mistakes can be costly. Before you can decide if you want to work with an expert, you need to know what kind of experts are out there.
Sitting in my office one early February morning in 2017, eyes puffy from crying, it finally dawned on me that I had no choice but to leave my marriage. Six days later, I was loading my things into a moving truck bound for my new one-bedroom apartment. Those six days were the easy part. It would take 17 months for my divorce to be settled, and during that time I learned a lot. In this piece I’d like to share some of those experiences in hopes that I can help you avoid some of my mistakes and make your divorce process as smooth as possible.
When I work with divorcing clients in my practice, I often encourage a team approach. Divorce is a complex and emotionally charged process, and very few professionals are equipped to effectively answer every single need that a client may have. This article aims to outline the various professionals who might make up your team, and help you decide when to call on them.
Ending a relationship, especially a marriage, is hard. There are heated emotions, hurt feelings, money anxieties, and complicated logistics (not to mention kid issues if there are children still at home). If you’ve decided to end your marriage but haven’t figured out how to start the process, you aren’t alone.
Divorce is by nature a messy process, and it’s common to make mistakes. Some are small (forgetting that one dinky investing account), and some are big (not addressing a major issue like taxes thoroughly in your decree). If you are wrapping up a divorce, you may find that mistakes were made.
The holidays are about family. And that fact can be painful for someone whose family has radically changed due to a divorce. Maybe this is the first holiday season you’ll spend “alone” in a very long time. While learning to be unmatched during this festive season may not be easy, it’s doable. Here are some practical tips on getting through and finding some joy.
Most married couples I know choose to burden only one member of the couple with tax return preparation — delegation and work splitting are keys to a happy home life, after all. So, if you are divorcing after a long marriage, you may be doing your own taxes for the first time (or the first in a long time). The U.S. tax code is a mystery to the typical individual. But federal taxes (not to mention state and local taxes) are a big expense for most of us — and it’s hard to be tax-aware when you don’t even know the basic mechanics of the tax system. Here, I’ve put together a primer to get you started on your journey to understanding taxes a little better.
If you are lucky, you’ll only have to get divorced once in your life. And since this is likely your first time, you haven’t yet had a chance to learn from your mistakes. In the spirit of making divorce less terrible for everyone, here are the top 10 mistakes to avoid in your divorce.
“I’m so bad with money!” I hear this phrase fall from the lips of my female clients with startling frequency. I hear it even more often when I’m working with a client who is divorcing. Is it really possible that all these women are just naturally “bad with money?
Many divorce cases fail to settle in a timely fashion because of fights over money. How to divide the house, bank accounts, retirement accounts, investing accounts, and so forth can take a good deal of back and forth. One asset some couples try to fight about is Social Security Benefits. But I have good news! Social Security Benefits are one thing you don’t need to address in your divorce settlement. The Federal government already has rules in place for how a divorced person can claim Social Security Benefits, and very little that your soon-to-be-ex-spouse does will affect your benefit.
The year of and the year after your divorce will bring many firsts in your new life: your first birthday, Valentine’s Day, and holiday season spent without your spouse, for example. If you are among the lucky few for whom these days feel celebratory in the wake of divorce, read no further. But if you are like most people, some or all of these days may be difficult or emotionally charged. This edition of Graceful Exits will outline some of the things you can do to help prepare for and cope with these important days.
The time between late January and early April is sometimes referred to as “divorce season” by those who work in Family Law. This is the period right after the holidays and just after the New Year when many people are thinking of making big changes to improve their lives. If you are one of those people looking to leave their marriage, you’re going to need representation and you may be wondering how to hire a divorce lawyer.
When many of us think of divorce, we envision a courtroom with a judge, attorneys, and the warring parties set against each other in a legal battle royale. That may be how it goes in the movies, but the fact is that a very small number of divorce cases end up in a courtroom. Most are settled elsewhere, only involving a judge when it comes time for the presiding justice to sign the divorce decree. If you are considering asking for a divorce, consider also how you think your case may be best settled. It may be less stressful, less costly, and less painful than you think.
The tropes of the “unhappily divorced man” or “bitter divorcee” are prevalent in our society. We see these characters depicted on TV, in books, and in movies. You may even know someone who never quite got over their divorce, who is still mourning even long after the case is settled. And no matter the real circumstances, there seems to be a perception that divorce is always a personal disaster or black mark on one’s life. But it is possible that your divorce can be the best thing that ever happens to you. In reality, there are plenty of benefits from divorce that you may not yet see while you’re in the thick of it.
It is common in divorce cases for one spouse to be more financially- or investment-savvy than the other. Maybe this is by accident, or maybe it’s by design. Either way, if you’re newly divorced with a settlement to administer and you’re the less-investment-savvy spouse, you’ve got a learning curve to navigate. I know from experience that having to learn about finance and investing can be one of the most stressful elements of someone’s post-divorce life. This article is designed to equip you with basic knowledge.
For most clients, divorce is a calamity and a crisis unlike any they’ve experienced before. For you, their attorney, it is business as usual. It’s easy to forget that for your client divorce is a personal, emotional, financial, and potentially life-threatening event (where domestic violence is a factor). As such, emotions are super-charged, and stress is high. So how can you do your job, maintain your own emotional health, and keep your client on track?
If you have decided to pursue divorce, there are lots of things to be done. Some are vital; others are less so. This checklist is designed to help you get organized before you start the process.
If you are getting divorced, it's possible that you’ll need to use a QDRO (pronounced “quah-droh”). But what is a QDRO, when do you need one, how do you get one, and how do they work? This month I explore the whats, whys, and hows of QDROs.
Being awarded real property in a divorce will have implications in terms of ongoing costs, refinancing, and taxes. Before you agree to (or ask to) be awarded the family home, consider these factors.
Divorce is rarely a short process. Here in Texas, it takes no fewer than 61 days for a divorce to become final, and often requires up to a year depending on how complex your case is. Quite a lot can happen in a year; here on the Gulf Coast, hurricanes and flooding events are common enough to be a threat while your case works its way through the system. So what happens to you, your property, and your case if there is a natural disaster during your divorce?
Pension benefits are largely going the way of the dinosaur. But for those who have them, it’s important to accurately assess their value — both monetarily and in the context of a settlement agreement. This article will outline what a pension benefit is, how it’s divided, and how you can assess its value.
Divorce is difficult during normal times. Divorce during a pandemic where lock down orders and social distancing measures are in place is another thing all altogether. If you are in the middle of or contemplating beginning the divorce process, you likely have lots of questions. Here my good friend Alex Hunt of Hunt Law Firm and I will try to answer the most common ones.
If you are divorcing in Harris County (or any number of other counties), you are headed for mediation. As a dispute resolution method, mediation is a great option that is often less stressful, less costly, and less time-consuming than litigation. And in Harris County, it’s required before you can proceed to trial. Mediating successfully requires that you prepare well. In addition, if you come to the table prepared for success, your mediation may finish more quickly. That means less time, money, and stress for you.
The typical divorce case involves a mix of assets including a family home, some bank accounts, some investment accounts, and some retirement accounts and retirement benefits. Retirement accounts and benefits are inextricably linked with tax law, which makes them complex by nature. Because so much wealth is tied up in retirement accounts and benefits, it’s vital to understand what you are dividing so you can reach a settlement that won’t backfire on you down the road.
Most people would agree that divorcing successfully requires at least one professional: an attorney. And in many cases, that truly is the only professional needed. But in cases with complexity or confusion about the financial elements, something more is needed.
If you are going through or just starting a divorce, this may be your first and only interactions with the legal system. Let's take a quick look at the five major steps in the Texas divorce process.
“Collaborative Divorce”… sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? When most people envision divorce proceedings, the images that come to mind first are likely those of conflict and argument where the parties fight, and the lawyers make lots of money. But divorce doesn’t have to be this way – there is a more civil way out, and that way is Collaborative Divorce.
December 12, 2019
If you are reading this article, you are at least contemplating a divorce. You already know that this is not a decision taken lightly, and that there are likely some do’s and do not’s to adhere to. While this article can’t cover every single thing you should do to get ready, it will cover the most vital items.
One of the most common questions I hear in my practice is, “Am I going to be OK?” The answer to this question often determines whether you reach a good divorce settlement, or end up enduring protracted negotiations to arrive at a settlement you might not feel certain about. Sometimes it’s easy for an attorney to answer this question in the affirmative. But there are times when an attorney may not be able to answer this question with certainty. This article will outline the role that a financial planning expert can play in answering this question with you, and building your confidence in the soundness of your agreement.
If you are considering divorce and you’ve done your homework, you may already be adding up the potential cost of your case in your head. Don't worry too much yet. There are things within your control that can keep your costs contained.
Divorce can do a number on your health – emotionally, physically, and financially. After the dust clears, it’s important to check yourself over so you can set yourself up for success.
If you’re looking at freshly signed divorce papers, you may also be thinking you’re looking at the end of a process. But your divorce decree is not an ending; it’s just one more step in the process of disentangling two lives. No two cases are perfectly alike, but this article will outline some of the most important, sometimes confusing, and potentially easy-to-overlook tasks you’ll encounter while wrapping things up.
Anyone who has gone through a divorce can confirm two things: it’s an unpleasant process, and there are dozens of decisions to make along the way. Sometimes, in encountering these decisions, we make the wrong choice (or no choice at all) because of biases and shortcuts in how we think. Knowing what they are and how they work is the first step to making better, more effective decisions — especially about your divorce settlement.
Budgeting – just reading that word may have made your eyes glaze over with boredom. It’s rare that clients come to us excited about the topic. But we know from experience that budgeting can be a powerful tool, especially in the context of a divorce.
Taxes are complex even when you aren’t in the middle of a divorce. If you are in the process of divorcing or have recently finalized your divorce, you likely have lots of questions about your taxes — starting with your filing status.
Before you light the unity candle, say “I do,” jump the broom, or break the glass — make sure you’ve done your financial homework together.
Grey divorce describes the phenomenon of older couples choosing to divorce after marriages of 20 year or more. Divorce at this late stage can present some unique challenges not faced by those divorcing earlier in life.
In the course of unwinding a marriage, one step that can feel overwhelming for some clients is accounting for and making an inventory of financial and other assets. This can be especially challenging for the spouse that wasn’t the primary person responsible for the family finances. In the early stages of divorce, it is easy for assets to be overlooked or, in some cases, hidden. But a little detective work can give clients and their attorneys the tools to start asking the right questions.