Breaking Down the Cost of Divorce in Texas

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Divorce is a challenging legal matter, and because the stakes are high, it’s important to get it right. In addition to the stress involved, there is the cost of your divorce to consider, and a better understanding of the factors that contribute to overall cost can help you get a better handle on the matter.

Working closely with an experienced and affordable divorce lawyer near you from the start is the surest way to keep your overall costs down while protecting your financial and parental rights.

Putting Your Divorce in Perspective

When you got married, you considered the event the kickoff to your future. As a result, you may have poured a considerable amount of money into the ceremony, and you undoubtedly expected your marriage to withstand the test of time. Unfortunately, not all marriages do, and because the outcome of your divorce will directly affect your future, it’s important not to skimp.

Seeking a divorce without the legal guidance of a seasoned divorce attorney leaves you far more vulnerable to unfavorable terms, but the right divorce attorney for you will help you protect your rights while keeping your divorce costs manageable. You’ll also be glad to know that there are things you can do to help minimize costs without jeopardizing your rights.

The Level of Contention Involved

It likely comes as no surprise to you that the more contentious your divorce becomes, the more likely it is to turn into a drag-out process that may take you all the way to court. It’s natural to experience a tidal wave of emotions, which is likely to include a considerable amount of anger; as your divorce proceeds, you needn’t allow your emotions to interfere with your negotiations.

Strategizing a Path Forward

There is no reason to throw good money after a bad fight to the death over every asset, property, or every minute of parenting time you are awarded. In the end, the big picture is far more important. Your dedicated attorney will help you identify your divorce priorities and help you strategize an effective path forward that cuts through the distracting details.

When Court Is in the Picture

Most couples do everything they can to keep divorce out of court. Not only does a trial cost considerably more, but all the following negative consequences also apply:

  • You can expect your divorce to take longer to be finalized.

  • You give up decision-making power for each of the divorce terms that need to be addressed by the court.

  • Your court records become a matter of public information, which means you sacrifice a good deal of privacy.

If you can find a way to keep your divorce out of court while protecting your rights, you’ll likely save yourself a considerable amount of money and dial the overall animosity down several notches. It’s important to know that if your spouse is focused on creating as much divorce drama as they can, heading directly to court and bypassing all the negotiating is likely a bargain.

When it comes to managing the cost of your divorce, it’s important to find balance. Your trusted divorce attorney will help you assess your unique situation and make the right decisions within that context.

Considering the Terms of Your Divorce

Every divorce – from the easiest, no-fuss to the most contentious case – comes down to resolving the relevant terms. Each of these terms can become a complicating factor in its own right – and can increase the cost of the process.

The Division of Marital Property

If you, your spouse, or you and your spouse came to own something during your marriage, it is considered marital property that must be addressed in your divorce. In Texas, marital property must be divided fairly in relation to a variety of factors that include the following:

  • The length of the marriage

  • Each spouse’s separate assets

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

  • Each spouse’s earning capacity

  • The relevant tax considerations

  • Either spouse’s wrongdoing, such as spending marital funds on an affair, which can play a role even in a no-fault divorce

  • Any fraud on the community estate, such as hiding, spending down, or giving away marital assets in the buildup to divorce

Separate Assets

While separate assets remain the separate property of the owner, a separate asset that isn’t kept strictly separate can become a complication. Any commingling of marital and separate finances can blur the distinction between the two. Further, any increase in a separate asset’s value over the course of a marriage is likely to be considered marital.

Complicating Factors

Even when a divorce is very straightforward, and the assets are easily assessed, the division of marital property can become a hotly contested divorce term. There are certain factors, however, that you can count on to make this division even more complicated.

High Assets

The higher your overall assets, the more challenging you should expect the matter of property division to be. High assets tend to mean complex assets that can be difficult to assess in terms of value and whether they are marital, separate, or a combination of the two. The more property involved, the more room for financial mischief that can be more difficult to identify.

Further, if your assets are high, attempting to keep your legal expenses artificially low is unlikely to do you any favors in terms of your financial rights. This is another one of those instances when finding balance is key.

Business Ownership

Few things complicate a divorce as thoroughly as business ownership can. If one spouse owns the business, things can become more challenging still. If you’re facing a divorce involving a business, the avenues for hiding assets or otherwise engaging in fraud on the community estate are considerable, and forensic accounting will likely be advised.

It’s best to consider additional costs like this an investment in your financial future. Forgoing the expense of obtaining a fair property division can leave you with far less than the amount you’re entitled to.

Ownership Disputes

Determining whether a property is marital or separate can be exceptionally challenging, and when the asset is determined to be a hybrid of the two, it can be more so. When the asset in question is one of the most valuable involved in the divorce, such as the family home often is, you can expect a serious difference of opinion that may be very difficult to reconcile.

Child Custody Arrangements

If you and your divorcing spouse share children, child custody will be a primary concern. On the matter of your children, however, you and your soon-to-be ex are similarly motivated – you both want what’s best for them. If you’re able to tap into this, it can streamline the negotiation process and cut your costs considerably.

The Children’s Best Interests

A better understanding of how Texas courts resolve child custody determinations may help you and your children’s other parent resolve your own differences. Texas courts are guided by the best interests of the children. They take the stance that –¬†unless there is a serious reason for ruling otherwise –¬†it is in the best interest of children to spend time with both parents.

In other words, the goal is finding a compromise that allows you both to spend generous time with the kids. Often, however, the circumstances support one parent becoming the primary custodial parent while the other has a visitation schedule that allows them a significant amount of parenting time.

Best Interest Factors

Texas courts look to best interest factors like those listed below when making child custody rulings:

  • The developmental stage of the child and the needs associated with those children who are of a tender age – or who are under the age of three

  • Each child’s needs, including any special or extraordinary needs

  • Each parent’s ability and motivation to effectively address these needs

  • The preference of those children whom the court considers mature enough to participate

  • The level of involvement each parent has had in raising the children so far

  • The degree to which each parent is committed to co-parenting effectively and to supporting the other’s close and ongoing relationship with the children

  • The distance the parents live from one another

  • Whether family violence, child abuse, or child neglect is a known concern

  • How well the status quo – or the children’s current living situation – serves their best interests in relation to their home, school, and community

Knowing what you know about how the State of Texas addresses child custody and the best interest factors they employ can lead to a more level playing field when it comes to negotiating advantageous child custody terms. This does not mean, however, that you should sacrifice your parental rights to keep your legal costs low.

If your soon-to-be ex refuses to budge and isn’t interested in negotiating fair terms, your focused divorce attorney will advise you regarding the next steps.

Child Support

When parents divorce in Texas, they retain the responsibility of supporting their children financially until they reach the age of 18 or graduate from high school – whichever comes later. The state turns to child support to balance this responsibility between both parents – based on their ability to pay along with a range of additional factors, such as:

  • The children’s ages and their overall mental and physical health

  • Each spouse’s income and earning potential

  • The cost of transportation associated with visitation

  • The amount of parenting time each parent receives

  • Any extraordinary physical, educational, or medical needs any of the children have

Ultimately, the parent who earns more generally has the child support responsibility even when parenting time is shared evenly. The child support calculation process is standardized, leaving little room for variance or complications.

However, there are unique situations in which the court employs its discretion to award child support that exceeds the parameters set by the state’s guidelines. A prime example is when a child has special needs that require the child support recipient’s full-time care.

Alimony

Alimony is called spousal maintenance in Texas, and it is only awarded in those divorces that leave one spouse unable to cover their own reasonable needs while the other has the resources to help. Reasonable here is relative to the standard of living achieved during the marriage, which sets the stage for considerable debate on the topic.

The longer the marriage lasted, the bigger the discrepancy between each spouse’s earning ability, the more likely alimony will be awarded. The duration of alimony is generally based on the amount of time the recipient requires to gain the education or job skills necessary to become more financially independent.

When alimony plays a role in the divorce, it has the potential to become a major sticking point. If, for example, you’re entitled to alimony, and your divorcing spouse refuses to consider the possibility, the additional legal expense associated with pursuing the amount to which you’re entitled is very likely to be well spent.

Speak with an Experienced Round Rock Divorce Attorney Today

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard is a savvy Round Rock divorce lawyer who appreciates your concerns regarding the cost of your divorce and is committed to helping you manage the expense while ensuring your rights are well protected.

Your case is important, so please don’t put off contacting or calling us at 254-781-4222 to schedule your free consultation and learn more today.

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