Questions to Ask Your Texas Divorce Attorney

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If you are heading toward divorce, you need a trusted divorce attorney in your corner from the start, and once you have one on your side, there are several questions that you should lead with. These will help you better understand the complex legal process ahead and will give you a better understanding of how your divorce is likely to be resolved.

To get started, reach out for the skilled legal representation of an experienced Round Rock divorce attorney.

How will my divorce affect my finances?

A primary concern in any divorce is money. Because your financial rights are primary, you need to know how divorce is likely to affect your assets. In Texas, marital assets—which are those assets that you and your spouse acquired during your marriage—must be divided fairly upon divorce.

Many factors go into this division, and while your marital assets can be split right down the middle, they may not be. The goal in Texas is a just and right division of marital property, which takes the unique circumstances of the marriage and divorce into careful consideration.

If you, your spouse, or you and your spouse together came to own the asset in question while you were married, it is marital property. The only exceptions include:

  • Any inheritances that either of you received in your name only

  • Any gifts that either of you received in your name only

  • The compensation for pain and suffering that either of you received during your marriage in a personal injury claim

The assets that either of you owned prior to marriage are separate assets, and as long as you keep them separate during your marriage, they will remain the separate property of the original owner. Any increase in their value, however, is likely to be considered a marital asset.

Some of the factors that Texas courts consider in the division of marital property include:

  • Each spouse’s separate assets

  • The length of the marriage

  • The size of the marital estate – as offset by marital debts

  • Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including in the form of homemaking and raising the children

  • Any hiding of marital assets or dissipation of marital assets prior to divorce

  • Each spouse’s overall education and earning potential

  • Any disparity in income between spouses

  • Each spouse’s age and overall health

  • Whether either spouse’s wrongdoing contributed to the breakdown of the marriage, which can even play a role in some no-fault divorces

  • The tax consequences of the proposed division

Knowing how your assets are likely to be affected by divorce can help you strategize more effectively, and it can also help you determine if you are really ready to file. Some people go back to the drawing board to firm up their finances prior to filing, such as in relation to affording two residences and keeping up with bills during the divorce process.

How Will Divorce Affect My Parental Rights?

When you divorce, you and your ex will need to split your time with your shared children, which is a significant change for everyone involved and one you should put a good deal of thought into.

While many factors go into parenting time determinations, an important point to keep in mind is that Texas courts are invested in supporting the children’s best interests, and toward this end, they do what they can to maximize the amount of time each parent spends with them.

In other words, your children will sometimes be with you and sometimes with their other parent, and you’ll need to prepare yourself for this. The state has a range of standard parenting time schedules that it orders, but if you and your children’s other parent can agree on a schedule between yourselves, you can get as creative as needed.

The factors that the state considers when handing down child custody orders include all the following:

  • The preferences of those children who are mature enough to weigh in

  • How well the children have adjusted to their current home, school, and community, which is called the status quo

  • How close each parent is to each of the children

  • How involved each parent has been in raising the children to date

  • How committed each parent is to being an effective co-parent

  • How committed each parent is to supporting the other’s close and ongoing relationship with the children

  • Whether there are any concerns about parental alienation, family violence, or child abuse or neglect

What does it mean to be the primary custodial parent?

Sometimes, one parent is identified as the primary custodial parent, which means they have the children for the majority of their overnights and have the right to choose their primary residence – within the geographical restrictions of the divorce. This often applies when one parent has been far more involved in raising the children than the other.

If it has worked well so far, it tends to make sense to keep things as close to normal for the children as possible. When one parent becomes the primary custodial parent, the other parent generally receives a generous parenting time schedule. In other instances, however, both parents share their time with the children more evenly.

If your goal is to become the primary custodial parent, you should know that the status quo can make a significant difference in whether or not this happens, and you should plan accordingly. For example, moving out of your family home while your divorce is pending with the intention of becoming the primary custodial parent upon divorce can backfire.

If your children are doing well where they are – living primarily with their other parent – the court may be inclined to keep things the way they are.

What is legal custody?

In Texas, custody is divided into physical custody – or parenting time – and legal custody, which determines how you and your ex will make primary decisions regarding your children moving forward. The kinds of decisions involved include all the following:

  • Decisions about your children’s schooling

  • Decisions about your children’s healthcare

  • Decisions about your children’s religious upbringing

  • Decisions about your children’s participation in extracurriculars and travel

If you and your ex share legal custody, you will continue to make these decisions together, but one of you may have the authority to break a tie in the event it is necessary. You can also divide these decisions between you according to category. There is also the option of one parent having sole legal custody, which affords them the right to make these decisions on their own.

How are divorces classified?

There are several different approaches to divorce in Texas, and understanding the distinctions can help you guide your divorce in the right direction. To begin, you can pursue a no-fault divorce or a fault-based divorce.

While the vast majority of divorces in Texas are no-fault, a fault-based divorce is a good option in some situations. No-fault divorce is based on what the State of Texas calls insupportability, which is roughly equivalent to irreconcilable differences. It means that neither spouse is blaming the other for the dissolution of the marriage.

While there are several grounds for fault-based divorces in Texas, the most common are adultery and cruelty. To obtain a fault-based divorce, you bear the burden of proving your spouse’s wrongdoing, which can be challenging. Another primary point about fault-based divorces is that they are resolved in court, which means they are contested divorces.

This leads us to the next divorce classification in Texas. Your divorce will either be contested or uncontested. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will resolve each of the terms between yourselves, and you won’t need the court’s intervention. In a contested divorce, however, one or more terms remain at odds, and your case goes to trial as a result.

An uncontested divorce is generally less expensive, less contentious, and speedier than a contested divorce. While an uncontested, no-fault divorce is generally the way to go, there are occasions when seeking a fault-based divorce can pay off in the form of better terms – along with the validation that some people are looking for in relation to their spouse’s wrongdoing.

It’s important to note that fault can also affect your divorce terms in a no-fault divorce. For example, if your spouse was committing fraud on your marital estate by spending marital funds on an affair, it can directly affect the division of your marital property – in your favor.

Will I receive child support?

Texas holds both parents responsible for financially supporting their children and uses its child support system to ensure this responsibility is distributed fairly between them. If you become the primary custodial parent, your ex will very likely pay you child support.

If you and your ex split parenting time evenly, the parent who has the higher income is very likely to also have the child support obligation.

How long will my divorce take?

Your divorce will follow its own unique path, which makes it impossible to know how long it will take. Most divorces are resolved in 6 to 18 months, but some take considerably less time, and some take considerably more.

In Texas, every divorcing couple must wait at least 60 days from the time of filing before their divorce can be finalized. While your divorce could conceivably be finalized in 61 days, you and your divorcing spouse would have to be committed to focused negotiations and to keeping things on an even keel, and the court’s docket would have to be in your favor.

How much will my divorce cost?

Divorce can be expensive, but there are many things you can do to help keep the cost of yours down, including:

  • Keep things as amicable as you can. Once you start fighting over the dishes, things can heat up quickly.

  • Negotiate everything that you can between yourselves – under your savvy divorce attorney’s guidance.

  • If you have one or more divorce terms that you can’t seem to resolve, consider mediation, which is typically less costly, less time-consuming, less adversarial, and less stressful than going to court

Share your concerns about costs with your attorney, and they will help you find ways to cut back on your legal expenses. Having a legal strategy in place helps to ensure that you won’t be throwing good money after bad with no real plan guiding you. Finally, many reputable divorce attorneys offer affordable payment plans that they will be happy to discuss with you.

Turn to an Experienced Round Rock Divorce Attorney for the Help You Need Today

If you are heading toward a divorce, you have questions, and you need answers. Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard is a formidable Round Rock divorce attorney who dedicates his imposing practice to skillfully guiding challenging cases toward advantageous outcomes that support his clients’ financial and parental rights.

Our focused legal team has impressive experience helping clients like you resolve their cases effectively and efficiently. We encourage you to contact us or call us at 254-781-4222 to schedule your free consultation and learn more about what we can do to help you today.

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