EXPERIENCE MATTERS WHEN IT COMES TO TACKLING TOUGH CASES!

Based in Dallas, Texas, the Nacol Law Firm PC, traces its roots to the firm of Mark A. Nacol and Associates PC, established in 1979. The Nacol Law Firm team shares its experience on a variety of legal topics here.  See our recent posts below.

Texas Divorce / Texas Child Support Questions and Answers

Q: How Much Is Texas Child Support ?
A:
See our Infographic Above

Q: How long is the divorce process ?
A: In a Texas divorce there is a waiting period of a minimum of 60 days from the time you file the Original Petition commencing the lawsuit to the time the divorce may be finalized. Few divorces are finalized in this time-period.  It is more likely that an uncontested divorce will take approximately 3 to 6 months and a contested divorce will likely will take much longer depending on the issues and conduct of the parties.

Q: Do my spouse and I both have to hire attorneys?
A:  No. But it is certainly in your best interest to hire an attorney for a consultation purposes and to review legal documents for your own protection.  An attorney should not in the vast majority of cases represent both parties, so if one attorney is involved he or she will under law be looking out for the best interest of the client that hired him/her, while the other party is representing themselves (pro se).

Q: Will I have to go to court?
A: If the spouses reach agreement, one party will have to appear in Court.  Often times, when the parties have worked out their own settlement, that agreement is signed by each of you and submitted to the court with only one party making a personal appearance to state to the Court that the agreement has been reached and to establish statutory requirements. If, on the other hand, you and your spouse cannot come to an amicable settlement through this process, you will both have to appear in court, and often on many occasions.

Q: Should I Move Out of the Marital Residence?
A: Be sure to consult with an attorney before leaving the marital residence. Leaving the home may be viewed as abandonment or actually declaring a new residence, especially if you are taking personal items with you (clothing, automobile, sentimental possessions, etc.).  If children are involved issues may arise as to who currently has or should have primary possession of the children.  Once you have voluntarily left the home, it may be difficult to move back in or obtain orders for primary or temporary possession.

Q: How Do I Get a Divorce?
A: Before getting divorced you or you and your spouse should decide that you absolutely want and need the divorce. Even though in the divorce process prior to final judgment everything is reversible, it is important that you realize that the road is sometimes very long and can be a difficult one to travel.

Q: What if I Do Not Want a Divorce?
A: The advent of a divorce is something that slowly builds. You may want to consult with your spouse about placing things on hold while you receive counseling.  However, the need for a divorce is rarely something that happens over night. Your spouse may have made his or her mind up long ago that divorce is the only option.  If your spouse has filed for divorce, you have no choice.  The most important thing for you to do if your spouse has filed for divorce is promptly seek proper legal advice.

If your spouse has significant assets and you feel they may be considering divorce seek legal advice immediately.  You may want to do some pre-planning to make sure you have complete copies of original and final documents and know where all the marital assets are located and to assure their status.  Do not give your spouse time to stash, spend away and/or hide assets.

Q: Can You Modify Child Support Orders?
A: Making changes to an existing child support order is not uncommon. Most states will not allow a request for modification on a child support order unless a time-period (of 2 to 4 years depending on the state) has passed since the order was put into place. Keep in mind that child support orders cannot be increased or decreased on a whim.  In Texas, you must show a change in circumstances.  However, if the person paying child support’s income has gone up or down more than 25% you can request a change.  IMPORTANT NOTE:  If you agree to no child support in your first order (Final Decree) and your spouse has a significant income at that time, you may have waived a statutory right to future child support unless the income level at the time of the existing order increases or decreases significantly.

Q: Can I Deny My Ex-spouse Visitation, Possession or Access?
A: You can not and should not deny visitation or possession, unless the Court has modified the visitation or possession to allow it! Denying visitation or possession is one of the biggest mistakes made by most primary custodial parents – it is an act of contempt in Texas. You may believe you have a justifiable reason for denying the visitation or possession rights, but by law your are not permitted to do so absent extraordinary circumstances, usually involving gross neglect or physical abuse.

Q: How Do I Get Custody of My Child(ren)?
A: The first and most important step to getting custody of your child(ren) is to be an involved and hands-on parent and to be honest. Being a great parent is not always the easiest task during divorce, but it is important to carefully consider each and every action you take during a divorce and how it may or may not effect the child(ren).  You will also need good legal representation.  Child custody issues can become ugly and complicated no matter how good your intentions may be.  Make sure you are prepared.  Document everything.

Q: What if I Do Not Like the Judges Decision?
A: The purpose of the ruling is to establish what exactly should be stated in the Final Divorce Decree. Once the attorneys have drafted the Final Divorce Decree and both parties have agreed that it coincides with the ruling, it will be presented to the Judge for signing.  Once the parties have agreed and signatures are signed, you will have to live with the decisions.  If the divorce is highly contested and the Judge rules and you are unhappy with the results, you have only a small window to appeal the decision or request a new trial.

Q: What is Fair Spousal Support or Alimony?
A: If you and your spouse can not come to agreement on the need for or amount of spousal support to be paid, the length of time, and under what conditions, the spousal support will most likely be set by a Judge according to Texas law.

 

If You are Planning to Divorce – The Time To Financially Prepare is NOW!

Are you to the point of no return in your marriage?  Nothing left of feelings, just apathy or indifference. Do you feel you must leave this place now or die trying? What about your financial security after the divorce? Divorce is an emotional roller-coaster. How will you take care of your debt, bills, and your children’s needs? 

Time to grab your laptop or pad of paper and start thinking smart about “the first day of the rest of your life. If your “I need a divorce” decision is now made, start work on learning your current family financial situation and what needs to be done to secure your financial security for Post-Divorce life!

Here is a list of some of your most important Financial Information that you need to address before the Start of the Divorce 

  1. What are the Community and Separate Property Laws in Texas?  

Under the Texas Family Code, a spouses separate property consists of 1) the property owned or claimed by the spouse before marriage; 2) the property acquired by the spouse during marriage by gift, devise, or descent, and 3) the recovery for personal injuries sustained by the spouse during marriage, except any recovery for loss of earning capacity during marriage.

The terms “owned and claimed” as used in the Texas Family Code mean that where the right to the property accrued before marriage, the property would be separate.  Inception of title occurs when a party first has a right of claim to the property by virtue of which title is finally vested.  The existence or nonexistence of the marriage at the time of incipiency of the right of which title finally vests determines whether property is community or separate.  Inception of title occurs when a party first has a right of claim to the property. 

Everything you and your spouse have earned in your marriage except for personal gifts or property from devise or descent will now, absent fault, be divided equally in the divorce. This could make a big difference in your post-divorce financial life! Gather all financial statements: income tax returns, insurance policies, bank statements, Investment Accounts summaries, Retirement Account balances, Bills, anything in your marriage that can show who owns separate assets or what constitutes the community property in this marriage.  

2. DEBT: Deal With it NOW!

Are you and your spouse in a bad financial situation? Do you both have to work to pay the bills or just barely make ends meet?  Now you want to get a divorce and HOW IS THAT GOING TO WORK? How can you be Post Divorce Happily EVER AFTER when you may not even be able to afford a down payment on an apartment? ORDER A COPY OF YOUR CREDIT REPORT now to see where the damage may exist.  You will be able to see what credit cards, loans, and other debt you all have created. If you and your spouse have be leading “separate lives” for a while, you may be surprised when there is more debt incurred for entertainment you never knew about. Review this CREDIT REPORT carefully. Find out whether you are a joint owner or just an authorized user. Except for your home, usually the DEBT will be in existing credit card accounts, personal loans, and car loans.  If possible, try to get as much debt as possible paid off before finalizing the divorce. Remember that joint debts remain both spouses’ legal obligation to the lenders, even when the divorce settlement states that only one spouse is responsible for the debt. If the responsible ex-spouse defaults on the payments, it will show up on both ex-spouse’s credit history. Some good advice? Get your own credit card in your name only. If you keep other credit cards take your spouse’s name off the credit card Now! Get your name off any credit card that your spouse uses NOW! Divorce causes financial upheaval to a family’s budget so protect yourself, so you don’t have to pay or be legally responsible for your soon to be EX’s Bills! 

3. Bank Accounts

Most married couples have at least one joint bank account. Many will have joint checking and savings accounts. You need to get a record of every family bank account in existence. Make sure you have copies of all monthly bank statement for 3 years.

Review these carefully and see if there has been a constant drainage of money from the accounts.

Now open a new account in your name. It is critical to establish your own financial identity when you divorce.
If your spouse does business with the bank in a business capacity or you have car/personal loans with the bank, you need to open a personal account with another bank of your choosing. 

4. What About Our Home? 

One of the hardest assets to deal with in a divorce.  This is where the couple lived as a family, with or without children. If there are children involved, their little lives have centered around their schools, churches, sports teams and friends.  It is heartbreaking to the entire family, but this decision is usually the final family break.

If the decision is for one spouse to take over the homestead and debt, the ideal situation is for such spouse to refinance the home in only their name. The single spouse will be responsible for the debt on the house and full title on the house. Otherwise if the spouse can’t afford to refinance the house, both spouses will have to work out a co-owner agreement and continue to have both names on the title and share the large financial burden. In such event, frequently, sale of the home is the best option.

This is one of the most serious real estate problems we encounter in a post-divorce situation.  Times get tough and the ex- spouse, who took over the house debt, cannot afford to pay the mortgage and the property falls into foreclosure, affecting both ex- spouses’ credit. Sometimes it is better, if one spouse cannot refinance the house loan, to sell the house and divide the proceeds.

Other “To Do” Items to Address Before the Start of the Divorce

  1. Make sure your assets are protected. Check that your car, health, and homeowner’s insurance is up to date and enough for your and your children’s needs. Also start the process of changing beneficiaries on all life insurance policies/annuities and retirement accounts (IRA / 401k at work) you own from your ex-spouse to your heirs or other designees.
  2. Change all passwords on your online accounts and all banking and credit card accounts. Time for some personal privacy!
  3. Time to start thinking about your digital assets that you as a couple developed and shared? This is a community state and how will this affect this type of asset?
  4. Think about reviewing your will and other estate planning documents. We suggest that when the divorce is final, you need to have a new will in place that will be only your heirs minus your Ex.
  5. Very important! Establish your own credit in your single name

This list will give you a start on the financial items that you must be addressed immediately in an upcoming divorce. Be prepared before the divorce and know where you stand financially. This will hopefully give you time to talk with financial and legal experts so you can make wise decisions on addressing the financial aspects of the divorce for you and your other family members.  

The Nacol Law Firm P.C.