Understanding the True Cost of Divorce

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You undoubtedly recognize that divorce is costly, but you may not realize the full range of financial ramifications that lie ahead. Better understanding the cost of divorce and what you can do to manage your divorce expenses while protecting your financial rights can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

One of the surest means of protecting your rights throughout the divorce process is working closely with an experienced Killeen divorce attorney from the outset.

Cooperating with One Another

You’re getting a divorce, which is a pretty good indicator that you and your spouse are not seeing eye-to-eye, but it doesn’t have to mean that you are engaged in outright battle.

One of the most important factors in estimating what you’re going to pay in legal expenses in the build-up to divorce is how committed you and your divorcing spouse are to keeping things amicable and to moving your case forward as effectively and efficiently as possible. If you both agree on this matter, it can save you considerable time, money, and heartache.

Easier Said than Done

While saying let’s keep this friendly is easy enough, it can be much more difficult to put into practice. The good news is that you and your soon-to-be ex don’t have to be best friends or even be on particularly good terms in order to keep your divorce amicable, but you do have to be willing to cooperate with one another or through your respective divorce attorneys.

Keeping Negotiations Moving Forward

Every divorce comes down to negotiating the primary terms, which remain the same from case to case and include – as applicable:

Your seasoned Texas divorce attorney will ensure that you understand your rights within each of these terms and how the court is likely to rule regarding each – given the unique circumstances involved. From here, you’ll strategize a path forward that strikes a balance regarding all the following issues:

  • Your divorce priorities

  • The distance between you and your spouse regarding each specific term

  • Your collective commitment to addressing the heart of each matter rather than to endlessly focusing on the details

If you and your divorcing spouse are invested in keeping negotiations moving in the right direction and if you are both willing to compromise for the greater good, you can slash your divorce costs in terms of legal expenses and will be better positioned to protect your financial rights, which makes it well worth the effort.

The further apart you and your spouse are regarding your divorce terms, the longer you can expect negotiations to take, but staying focused and powering through can reap considerable rewards.

You and your spouse are almost certain to experience snags on the path forward, and focusing on not sweating the small stuff can help keep things moving. However, you should also be on the lookout for signs that your soon-to-be ex is on a mission to make your divorce as difficult as they possibly can.

If your divorcing spouse refuses to give an inch – to the point that your parental or financial rights are negatively affected – your attorney will let you know when you’ve reached the point of diminishing returns. Sometimes, heading to court is the answer.

Issues that Can Lead to Higher Costs

There are certain terms and certain circumstances that can drive up the cost of divorce significantly. Often, this can be controlled via careful legal strategizing and skilled negotiations, but there are other times when battles are inevitable.

Child Custody Arrangements

If you and your divorcing spouse are miles apart in relation to the child custody arrangements each of you is fighting for, it can lead to serious legal costs and considerable contention.

It’s important to note that Texas courts are always motivated by the best interests of the involved children, and when you take their reasoning into account, it may help you and your children’s other parent find a middle ground that serves you both well.

Prevailing wisdom maintains that children are universally best when they are allowed to spend a considerable amount of time with each parent served – barring a significant reason for finding otherwise. In other words, the court is invested in affording you and your ex ample parenting time –¬†although one of you may take on the primary custodial role.

Keeping this in mind can help you resolve your own child custody arrangements in accordance with how the court would likely rule, which generally means a generous amount of parenting time for each of you. While the state has standard parenting time schedules it generally employs, you and your spouse can create whatever kind of schedule works for your family.

Child Support

Child support is calculated according to careful state guidelines, and there isn’t a lot of room for interpretation. Typically, the parent in the primary custodial role is the child support recipient, and the other parent pays a specific percentage of their net income in accordance with the number of children being supported.

If you and your ex will be splitting your parenting time 50/50, the child support obligation will very likely go to the parent with higher earnings, but there are a range of factors that can affect the amount they’ll pay.

Texas courts generally stick to the state’s calculation process when ordering child support, and only when there are extenuating circumstances, do they use their discretion and order child support that deviates from the standard calculation method. For example, if one of the children has extraordinary medical or educational needs, the court may order higher child support.

The Division of Marital Property

The division of marital property is another divorce term that can seriously slow down the legal process and that packs a financial wallop of its own. How your assets are divided between you will play a pivotal role in your post-divorce finances, which makes affording the matter the legal attention it deserves critical.

Marital Property

Marital property refers to those assets that you, your spouse, or you and your spouse together came to own while you were married. These assets must be divided between you fairly in divorce, and while this can mean evenly, it doesn’t always. Some of the factors that guide the division of marital property in Texas include all the following:

  • The size of the marital estate – the greater your assets, the more likely this divorce term is to become a sticking point

  • The size of each spouse’s separate estate – or their separate assets

  • Whether fault played a role in the divorce – even in a no fault divorce

  • The contributions each spouse made to the marriage, including in the form of taking care of the children and home

  • The length of the marriage

  • Each spouse’s age and overall mental and physical health

  • Each spouse’s income

  • The tax implications of the proposed division

  • Whether either spouse engaged in any form of fraud on the community – during or prior to the divorce process

Generally, marital assets are divided evenly between both spouses – unless there is a compelling reason for ruling otherwise.

Separate Property

Separate property refers to those assets that either of you owned prior to marriage and kept separate throughout your marriage, which can be challenging to accomplish. Texas courts begin with the presumption that a couple’s entire estate is marital. If either of you can prove that a property is yours alone, however, it will remain that spouse’s separate property in the divorce.

It’s important to remember that the dividing line between separate assets and marital assets can be diminished by the intermingling of finances and by treating separate assets like marital assets.

Further, if the asset increases in value over the course of your marriage, such as a retirement account, a business, or a piece of real estate is likely to do, the increase will very likely be treated as marital property.

Challenging Circumstances

There are certain matters related to the division of marital property that you can expect to be more challenging right out of the gate, including:

  • High assets

  • Complicated assets

  • Business ownership

  • Serious debt

The more complex your marital estate, the more likely its division is to affect primary matters like the following:

  • Each spouse’s career

  • Each spouse’s ability to maintain the same standard of living achieved during the marriage

  • The division of a business – or an equitable answer to one spouse walking away from the business

  • Serious retirement concerns

The better you understand how property is divided in a Texas divorce, the better prepared you’ll be to negotiate a fair division with your soon-to-be ex – under the skilled legal guidance of your trusted Texas divorce lawyer.

Alimony

While alimony can be an important divorce term, it is only awarded in highly specific circumstances that include both of the following elements:

  • The divorce leaves one spouse unable to afford their own reasonable needs.

  • The other spouse’s post-divorce finances afford them the means to help.

While Texas doesn’t employ an alimony calculator, it does set a cap that limits how much alimony – or spousal maintenance – can be paid.

There are specific requirements involved when it comes to alimony, but the matter of whether a spouse is able to cover their own reasonable needs is vague, and a case can be made for their reasonable needs being relative to the standard of living achieved during their marriage. In other words, there is plenty of room for differences of opinion to arise.

If you are entitled to alimony, it can directly affect your financial well-being moving forward and is worth pursuing. Your skilled divorce attorney will make a compelling case in defense of your position on this term, which can make it more difficult for your ex to deny.

Alimony is limited to the duration necessary for the recipient to gain greater financial independence. This can include seeking further education, job training, or job skills. If the alimony recipient remarries, the alimony order ends automatically, and the ex who makes the payments isn’t required to finalize the matter with the court.

Fault-Based Divorce vs. No Fault Divorce

You likely don’t need to be told that pursuing a fault-based divorce is more costly and more time consuming than a no fault divorce would be. While this is true, it doesn’t mean that filing for a fault-based divorce is always a bad idea. To begin, there are your own feelings to consider.

If your spouse treated you cruelly for years or was having a sexual relationship with someone other than you, seeking a fault-based divorce may afford you the solace you’re looking for – and could also affect the outcome of your divorce terms.

Deciding whether or not to pursue a fault-based divorce is a very personal matter that only you can make. However, your compassionate divorce attorney will ensure that you have the information you need to make the right decision for you and that you know exactly what you’re up against.

The matter of proving your spouse’s fault in the dissolution of your marriage will fall to you, and doing so can be challenging. This said, there are situations in which it’s well worth the effort. Additionally, the court may require your ex to pay your legal fees in response to their wrongdoing.

Turn to an Experienced Killeen Divorce Attorney for the Help You Need

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard is a savvy Killeen divorce attorney who welcomes the opportunity to protect your financial and parental rights in pursuit of favorable divorce terms – with as few delays and complications as possible.

Learn more by contacting or calling us at 254-781-4222 and scheduling your free consultation today.

Related Reading

Texas Divorce: Is Your Spouse Hiding Assets?

How is child custody determined?

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