Avoiding Common Divorce Mistakes in Texas

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If you’re facing a divorce, you have a lot on your mind and may not know where to turn for the help you need. The good news is that knowing and avoiding common divorce mistakes in the first place can help immensely.

While your divorce will be unique to you and your spouse, the most important step anyone considering a divorce can take is seeking the skilled legal guidance of an experienced Round Rock divorce attorney early in the process.

Don’t Fly Solo: You Need a Trusted Divorce Attorney on Your Side

Too many people facing divorce think it’s something they can handle on their own – only to learn, too late, that their financial and parental rights are in jeopardy. The benefits of having focused legal counsel in your corner are difficult to overstate and include all the following:

  • Your attorney will help to ensure that you avoid the common divorce errors that can leave you vulnerable to unfavorable terms.

  • Your attorney will help you gather all the documentation relevant to your case – ensuring that your rights are well represented in the process.

  • Your attorney will help you better understand the terms of your divorce that need to be resolved, assess your divorce priorities, and strategize a path forward that supports your goals.

  • Your attorney will build a strong case in pursuit of advantageous terms that work for you.

  • Your attorney will be ready to take your case to trial if your soon-to-be ex refuses to engage in meaningful negotiations or is bound and determined to make your divorce as challenging as they possibly can.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Negotiations

Even if you believe that you and your spouse are hopelessly deadlocked regarding your divorce terms, it’s important to keep in mind that your soon-to-be ex is very likely just as motivated as you are to keep the matter out of court – where you both give up the right to make major decisions for yourselves.

Your dedicated divorce attorney will help you explore your best negotiation options, and if you and your spouse are unable to reach workable compromises between yourselves, you can turn over negotiations to your respective divorce lawyers. There is also mediation, which is a form of alternative dispute resolution that often helps divorcing couples reach agreements.

Don’t Insist on Sole Custody before You Understand the Implications

Texas breaks child custody arrangements into physical and legal custody, and Texas courts begin with the presumption that both parents are fit for the responsibilities inherent to both. Legal custody refers to the assignment of decision-making authority regarding primary matters like the following:

  • Where your children attend school

  • The medical attention your children receive

  • The extracurricular activities and travel your children participate in

  • The religious education your children receive

You and your ex can make these decisions together or divide them between you according to category. If you do continue to make these important decisions by consensus between you, one of you may be awarded the authority to break a tie in the event you can’t negotiate a mutually acceptable decision.

Physical custody sets the parenting time schedule, and the starting position that Texas courts adopt is that spending a considerable amount of time with each parent is to the children’s advantage. The fact that Texas courts are guided by the children’s best interests means that, to the degree possible, they afford each spouse a generous parenting time schedule.

If you have your heart set on sole custody of your children, you are likely aiming for the primary custodial role, which means having the majority of overnights with them. True sole custody, in which one parent has sole legal custody and the other parent’s time with the children is strictly limited – or cut out entirely –┬áis called sole managing conservatorship in Texas.

It is only ordered when there is a solid reason for doing so. If you believe your children’s other parent is unfit and is a danger to them, pursuing sole managing conservatorship is advised, and your knowledgeable divorce attorney will skillfully guide you through the challenging process.

Seeking the role of primary custodial parent is more common and generally more accessible. If you have served as the children’s primary caregiver to date, this alone may support your goal of maintaining the position. How well the status quo is working for your children is an important best-interest factor that Texas courts take into careful consideration.

Don’t Use Your Divorce as a Battering Ram

Anger and divorce tend to go hand and hand. It would be odd not to have some resentment toward your divorcing spouse, but using the divorce process itself to get back at them is ill-advised. Divorce is a highly complex legal matter, and the terms you negotiate or that the court hands down will directly affect you and your children’s future.

As such, it’s important to focus on obtaining fair terms to serve you well rather than punishing your soon-to-be ex. The more contentious your divorce becomes, the more likely it is to go to court, which comes with all the following consequences:

  • It’s a more costly process.

  • It’s a more time-consuming process.

  • It’s a more stressful process.

  • You give up your decision-making authority and rely on the judge to make primary decisions on your behalf.

Each of these is reason enough to concentrate on effective negotiations. However, it’s important to note that if your spouse is intent on making your divorce as difficult as possible, going directly to court may be the most effective way to cut your losses.

As a side note, simply giving in to your divorcing spouse’s every demand in order to get the divorce over with as soon as possible is also a bad idea. The goal is to protect your rights in the context of your post-divorce future.

Don’t Attempt to Hide Assets or Keep Information from Your Attorney

Hiding assets, giving away or gifting money or property, or otherwise attempting to limit the size of your marital estate for property division is referred to as fraud on the community estate, and it can backfire spectacularly – potentially affording your ex a more significant portion.

Your divorce attorney is on your side and there to help, but in order for them to do so, you’ll need to be honest about your finances – and everything else.

If you’re not comfortable opening up to your attorney, they may not be a great fit. If you’re uncomfortable opening up generally, it’s time to set your squeamishness aside – for the sake of your case.

Don’t Automatically Assume that Your Marital Assets Will Be Split 50/50

Yes, Texas is a community property state – which means that everything you, your spouse, or you and your spouse together acquire over the course of your marriage belongs to both of you – but this doesn’t necessarily mean it will be divided right down the middle in a divorce.

Texas courts are required to divide marital property in a manner that is just and right, and in the process, they take a range of circumstances like the following into account:

  • The length of the marriage

  • The size of the marital estate and of each spouse’s separate estate

  • The contributions each spouse made to the marriage, including in the form of raising the children and homemaking

  • Each spouse’s age and employability

  • The terms included in a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement

  • Either spouse’s wrongdoing, which can play a role even in a no-fault divorce

  • Fraud on the community estate by either spouse

  • The tax consequences of the division under consideration

  • Any unique circumstances that need to be considered

Working closely with an experienced divorce attorney from the outset is always to your advantage.

Don’t Begin Negotiations Until You Know What You Have

Too many people facing divorce are in a hurry to get it finalized before they know the full scope of their assets. This is especially true when one spouse is far more involved with the finances than the other. Don’t assume that you know what you’ve got—conduct a thorough accounting and one of the most important first steps is gathering the necessary financial documentation.

The more you know about your marital finances, the better protected your financial rights will be and the less likely your divorcing spouse is to pull a fast one on you.

Don’t Tell Your Story Online

If you’re going through a divorce, you’re going through a lot, and you may be inclined to post about it. However, a bit of good advice that everyone facing a divorce should take to heart is that it’s in your best interest to take a break from social media.

While you may think your accounts and posts are private, a simple screenshot can change all that – and the information you share can find its way into your case. When it comes to social media, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and staying off social media is the best way to stay safe.

Don’t Move Out of Your Family Home before Considering the Consequences

If you decide to move out of your family home while your divorce is pending, it can have serious consequences that are important to consider. For example, if you and your divorcing spouse share children and your goal is becoming the primary custodial parent, your move can harm your chances.

Texas courts take a wide range of factors into consideration when determining child custody, and how well your children are doing in terms of their current home, school, and community will play an important role. If things are going well for them living with their other parent in your family home, the court may be hesitant to make serious changes.

Don’t Forget that a Fault-Based Divorce Is More Difficult to Obtain

Even if you are convinced that your spouse is completely to blame for the breakdown of your marriage, you should know that obtaining a fault-based divorce is an even more challenging proposition than a no-fault divorce.

The vast majority of Texas divorces are no-fault, which means they are based on what the state calls insupportability or what you may think of as irreconcilable differences. In a no-fault divorce, neither spouse is required to prove the other’s wrongdoing.

Texas, however, also recognizes divorces based on grounds of fault, such as adultery and cruelty. If you seek a fault-based divorce, you bear the burden of proving your spouse’s fault, and you’ll need to accept that your case will almost certainly go to court, which means greater costs and a more time-consuming process.

Nevertheless, there are instances when a fault-based divorce is recommended and worth the additional effort. Your savvy divorce attorney will ensure that you have the information and the understanding to make the right decision for you – in your unique circumstances.

Don’t Ignore the Tax Consequences of your Terms

If you’ve landed on terms that you’re ready to sign off on, it’s important to consider the tax implications, which can be significant, carefully before doing so. While you may be eager to put this matter behind you, take the time to carefully examine the tax consequences with your divorce attorney before you sign on the dotted line.

Consult with an Experienced Round Rock Divorce Attorney Today

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard is an accomplished Round Rock divorce attorney who understands how important your divorce terms are to your future. He is well prepared to harness the full force of his impressive experience in pursuit of terms that support your rights and work for you and your children.

To learn more, please contact or call us at 254-781-4222 to schedule your free consultation today.

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