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Montgomery County Family Law Blog

Don't believe what you hear when it comes to a Texas divorce

When a couple decides to end their marriage, family, friends and even acquaintances may offer unsolicited advice regarding what comes next. The problem is that much of this information may not be correct, especially when it comes to dividing property since Texas is a community property state. This means that each party owns the marital assets jointly. Before taking any further steps in a divorce, it may be beneficial to separate fact from fiction.

For instance, many people believe that just because they are the only party on the deed or mortgage loan to the home that it is automatically a separate asset. That is not always the case. Numerous factors determine whether the home is part of the marital estate, a separate asset or a combination of the two.

Excluding the other spouse in a divorce involving a business

Texas is a community property state. This means that if a business owner becomes involved in a divorce, the other spouse may be entitled to a portion. In order to avoid this eventuality, the owner may want to take certain measures to retain his or her interest in the business as separate property, which would then not be subject to division in the divorce.

First, if a Texas business owner is not yet married, it would be a good idea to negotiate and execute a prenuptial (before marriage) agreement. This way, the business and/or any interests in the business can be identified as separate property. If a couple is already married, it may be possible to execute a post-nuptial (after marriage) agreement to keep the business separate.

Maintain control in a divorce with mediation

The end of a marriage may make many Texas residents feel as though they have lost control of their lives. If they end up in court, that feeling may continue since a judge will be the one making decisions for them. It is possible to maintain control in a divorce through an alternative method of resolving their issues -- mediation.

Even though emotions can sometimes get in the way of making rational decisions during the divorce process, a neutral third party such as a mediator could help Texas couples stay on task. Using mediation allows the parties to retain control over what will happen to each of them individually and as a family if children are involved. Being involved in the decisions can often help alleviate the feeling of helplessness that many people feel as they watch their marriages end.

Society doesn't view divorce the way it used to

Beginning in the 1950's, and for several decades thereafter, television shows gave Americans a view of family life that encouraged them to stay together regardless of how bad the marital relationship was. A divorce was viewed as a failure on the part of the married couple and was even worse if there were children involved. Thankfully, society has developed beyond those now arcane ideals to realize that even though marriage should not be taken lightly, divorce does not mean failure. In fact, in some cases, it provides many Texas parents with the ability to be better for their children. 

People used to stay together for the sake of the children, but an abundance of research now tells parents that it may actually be better for the children to part ways. These days, Texas parents often get along better once the marital relationship has ended and become the parents they always wanted to be. In fact, many also have amicable, if not friendly, relationships with their former spouses.

Facing a contested divorce in Texas? Here's what to expect

When it comes to ending a marriage, most Texas residents are encouraged to do so amicably through mediation or some other alternative to going to court. However, for some couples, that simply is not possible. Instead, they face a contested divorce, and understanding something of the process could help alleviate any trepidation about it.

First, one spouse files the petition, which must be formally served on the other party. If requested, a temporary restraining order may be issued to be served along with the petition to protect property, persons or both. Then, the other party must file a response, which may also seek temporary orders. Texas law places deadlines on the duration of a TRO and on how long the other party has to respond to the petition.

Dividing assets in a Texas high net worth divorce

During your marriage, you and your spouse may have acted as partners. You accumulated wealth, purchased assets and may even have a significant investment portfolio and retirement account. Now that you face a high net worth divorce, you may be wondering how the process of dividing those assets will go, especially since Texas is a community property state.

The situation can quickly become complicated if you and/or your spouse had assets prior to the marriage that ended up being commingled with those in the marital estate. Sorting out what is considered separate versus community property could take some time and effort. The courts typically consider any property gained during the marriage to be jointly owned by both parties. Another complication that could arise is if your spouse accuses you of hiding assets or vice versa.

Don't just split your retirement accounts in a divorce

Other than the marital home, the largest assets that many Texas couples have are their retirement accounts. After spending years of accumulating funds in employment-related retirement accounts such as 401Ks, the prospect of having to divide them in a divorce may not make either party happy, but in many cases, at least a portion will be included in the marital estate. However, couples should not go ahead and divide these assets on their own without first understanding the ramifications.

Removing funds from these accounts prior to retirement comes with significant tax ramifications. If a couple splits these accounts on their own, these taxes could cause each party to take a substantial financial hit depending on the amounts involved. Fortunately, divorcing parties can take avoid this issue by obtaining a qualified domestic relations order from the court.

Divorce: Some parents have to fight to see their children

Many Texas parents may understand what actor Jesse Williams ("Grey's Anatomy") is going through. He and his wife are in the midst of a divorce, and it recently came to light that his estranged wife may not be playing nice when it comes to him seeing their children. Her actions prompted Williams to file a request with the court for a parenting plan that allows for joint physical custody of the children.

According to Williams, the children's mother refused to let them stay at his home overnight. In addition, she limits the amount of time he gets with them during the week. He claims that she only allows him to see the children in spurts of about 2.5 hours.

Vernier & Associates, PLLC Vernier & Associates, PLLC

Vernier & Associates, PLLC
2441 High Timbers Drive Suite 110
The Woodlands, TX 77380

Phone: 281-882-3271
Fax: 832-585-0955

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