Getting a Texas Divorce : Moving Out of the Marital Home

July 17th, 2014

This is a complicated question to answer depending upon the facts of each case.  If you have experienced domestic violence you need to immediately do whatever is necessary to secure you and your child’s safety.  Many times a victim will go to court for a protective order and ask the judge to move the abusive or violent spouse out.  In this situation contact an experienced family law attorney now!

In most cases, absent of violence or risk of abuse, we would not suggest that a spouse move out of the marital residence.

Why is this?  One reason is once you have vacated the residence it may be very difficult to get back in! You have no legal obligation to leave the residence if your name is on the lease or mortgage personally and exclusivity.

Our suggestion to a client might be, to remain in the residence since the person who vacates may still have financial obligations and expenses of the family residence, while paying all expenses on a new residence for themselves. Double expenses are not a desirable result during the divorce process.

The higher wage earning spouse who moves out of the marital home must expect to continue to pay most of the household expenses, including the insurance and mortgage!  What about the personal property and furnishings in the residence?

If an agreement has not been made between the divorcing couple, the moving spouse will generally only be able to leave with personal belongings (clothing & jewelry) until a court rules fairly as to temporary possession.

Secure a court order ASAP to equalize property and household expenses.

I Am Getting Divorced : How To Avoid Major Financial Divorce Pitfalls

May 19th, 2014

You are getting divorced!  After the emotional decision is made you must address financial situations impacting the family breakup.

What are the major financial pitfalls of a divorce? Are you prepared to stay on top of all financial problems and decisions in this divorce to strive for a financial win-win situation?

  1. Where’s the liquid cash? Divorce generally never goes as fast as you would like nor do you receive as much as you think you should! If divorce is imminent start saving up money now! You will need to pay divorce expenses and have support for your new household.  There will be many unanticipated costs that may drain you financially.

    If you don’t have a credit card in your name get one now.  If you share credit with your spouse, close out as many credit cards as possible if he/she can charge on your credit. Even if you don’t use the cards, the account balance will still be owed and both spouses may be legally responsible for the debt.

  1. Not Prepared for this Divorce?  Divorce is a serious change of life event. Get Prepared Now! Timing is all important! When is the best time for you to get divorce?  Make sure your financial situation is good before you take the divorce leap. Need new tires, buy them. Kids need dental work, see the dentist.  Just remember: after the separation, your expenses will be paid by court order and not always be to your liking.

  1. Where are the important divorce financial records? Don’t leave without all your documents that identify what you and your spouse accumulated during your marriage and which can establish the fair market value! Even if you were not in charge of finances while you were married, you must secure copies of all records. You are entitled to your share of financial property and any additional income you find may increase the earnings that calculate child support or spousal maintenance support.  What are you looking for?  At least three years of tax returns, mortgage paper on your home, wills, trusts, bank, credit card, and financial statements, car registrations and titles, insurance policies, and deeds to real estate.  If you have separate property from inheritance or gifts from your family, make sure you have all records of these transactions.  Our blog, Texas Financial Checklist http://dld.bz/dqcej  is a detailed list of items and records needed to have before filing for divorce. A very good item to use for your preparation!

  2. Have you overlooked any Assets?  If a business is involved a forensic accountant may be hired to look of any signs of additional income or overstated expenses.

    Hobbies and side businesses that use expensive equipment or generate income needs to carefully be looked out.  Are you entitled to compensation for expenses you paid to get your spouse through school?

    All assets, big or small can add up. These assets can always be used for trade on something you can use.

    Your spouse may try to hide assets. By keeping all documents and paystubs to make sure there are not any irregularities, things usually work out fine. Stay honest and reveal your assets.

  1. Do Not Ignore Tax Consequences!  Divorce may or may not create taxable events but you must report it on your tax return. Should you sell the house now to claim the capital gain exclusion? Who should be paying the mortgage until it sells? Should you take your spousal maintenance monthly or in a lump sum? What about retirement funds? An accountant can help to determine the best path for you on these questions.

  2. Passive Observer of your Divorce? NO!  Get control of this process, focus on practical things and work with your future Ex to get this divorce over! You can do this! There is a reason for this divorce and you are the master/mistress of your destiny. Your children need you now to be a responsible parent and wise decision making will save you time and legal fees. Listen to your attorney but you make the decisions!

  3. Is Divorce your survival plan?  Now that you have decided to divorce you must break it to your children. People engaged in a Divorce should be in survival mode.  The person who will be your future “EX” is looking out for themselves and you need to look out for yourself and your children.  YOU must insist within reason on getting what you need and deserve! Emotions and money do not mix!  You must be able to take care of yourself and your family financially so look at all property division decisions very carefully and make good decisions to bring the divorce to a successful conclusion.

  4. Prepare for the worst! When entering into a divorce, prepare yourself for the worst!  If you are prepared for anything, than your fears will not cause you to panic and you will keep control of your situation. Outside of death, divorce is considered one of the worst emotional situations that a human being will ever experience!

  5. How will you support yourself and the kids after divorce? Hopefully this is not a problem, but now would be a good time to get some career counseling at a community college, university or local job center. Having a fulfilling career is lucrative and helps your self-esteem!

  1. Get Good Advice! Decisions you make now will affect the rest of your life.  Find a good, knowledgeable attorney to help you though the rough spots. If you are emotionally a wreck, find a good therapist. If you feel there are hidden assets, hire a forensic accountant. Now is the time to get the best advice you can afford!  You will have to live with your financial decisions for a long time.

Texas Divorce Financial Checklist

May 9th, 2014

Preparing for a Texas Divorce:  Assets

Going through a Divorce is painful no matter what the circumstances. Before you get into the Texas Divorce Process, reduce expense, stress and conflict by making sure you are financially prepared. Planning ahead helps you in making sound decisions, start preparing for post-divorce life, and avoid many post-divorce pitfalls. Below is a list of items you need to gather before counseling with an attorney. Financial Documents are a must to show what your true assets and liabilities are in the marriage.

Documents:

  1. Tax Returns (at least three years) or Tax Liens and all IRS related documents
  1. Wills and Trusts with all attachments reflecting corpus and trust holdings
  1. Listing of all liabilities (including mortgages, credit card debt, personal loans, automobile loans, etc.):
    • Name of entity, address and telephone number
    • Account number
    • Amount owed
    • Monthly payment
    • Property securing payment (if any)
    • Most current statements and account status of lenders
  1. A Listing of all Real Property, address and location, including (includes time-shares and vacation properties):
    • Deeds of Trust
    • Notes including equity loans and second liens
    • Legal Descriptions
    • Mortgage Companies and Loan Servicers (Name, Address, Telephone Number, Account Number, Balance of Note, Monthly Payments)
    • Current fair market value
    • Appraisals
  1. Motor Vehicles (including mobile homes, boats, trailers, motorcycles, recreational vehicles; exclude company owned):
    • Year
    • Make
    • Model
    • Value
    • Name on title
    • VIN Number
    • Fair Market Value
    • Name of creditor (if any), address and telephone
    • Persons listed on debt
    • Account number
    • Balance of any loan and monthly payment
    • Net Equity in vehicle
  1. Cash and accounts with financial institutions (checking, savings, commercial bank accounts, credit union funds, IRA’s, CD’s, 401K’s, pension plans and any other form of retirement accounts):
    • Name of institution, address and telephone number
    • Amount in institution on date of marriage
    • Amount in institution currently
    • Account Number
    • Names on Account
    • Company loans and documents related to benefits
  1. A listing of separate property (property owned prior to marriage, family heir looms, property gifted, inherited property):
    • Records that trace your separate property. These assets will remain yours if properly documented
  1. Retirement Benefits:
    • Exact name of plan
    • Address of plan administrator
    • Employer
    • Employee
    • Starting date of contributions
    • Amount currently in account
    • Balance of any loan against plan
    • Documents
  1. Publicly traded stock, bonds and other securities (include securities not in a brokerage, mutual fund, or retirement account):
    • Number of shares
    • Type of securities
    • Certificate numbers
    • In possession of
    • Name of exchange which listed
    • Pledged as collateral?
    • Date acquired
    • Tax basis
    • Current market value
    • If stock (date option granted, number of shares and value per share)
    • Stock options plans and related documents
  1. Insurance and Annuities Policies and Inventory:
    • Name of insurance company
    • Policy Number
    • Insured
    • Type of insurance (whole/term/universal)
    • Amount of monthly premiums
    • Date of Issue
    • Face amount
    • Cash surrender value
    • Current surrender value
    • Designated beneficiary
    • Other policies and amendments
  1. Closely held business interests:
    • Name of business
    • Address
    • Type of business
    • % of ownership
    • Number of shares owned if applicable
    • Value of shares
    • Balance of accounts receivables
    • Cash flow reports
    • Balance of liabilities
    • List of company assets
    • Possible hobbies or side businesses that generate income
  1. Mineral Interests (include any property in which you own the mineral estate, separate and apart from the surface estate, such as oil and gas leases; also include royalty interests, work interests, and producing and non-producing oil and gas wells:
    • Name of mineral interest
    • Type of interest
    • County of location
    • Legal description
    • Name of producer/operator
    • Current market value
    • needs leases or production documents related to the asset
  1. Money owed by spouse (including any expected federal or state income tax refund but not including receivables connected with any business)
  1. Household furniture, furnishings and Fixtures
    • photos
    • purchase documents
  1. Electronics and computers including software and hard drive
  1. Antiques, artwork and collectibles (including works of art, paintings, tapestry, rugs, crystal, coin or stamp collections) Other large collections need to be appraised! (Guns, quilts, action figures, books)
  1. Miscellaneous sporting goods and firearms
  1. Jewelry including appraisals
  1. Animals and livestock
  1. Farming equipment
  1. Club Memberships
  1. Safe deposit box items
  1. Burial plots including documents of ownership
  1. Items in any storage facility
  1. Travel Awards Benefits (including frequent flyer miles)

Serving clients throughout Texas, including Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Grayson, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant counties and the communities of Addison, Allen, Arlington, Carrollton, Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garland, Grapevine, Highland Park, McKinney, Mesquite, Plano, Richardson, Rowlett and University Park, Murphy,Wylie, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Irving, along with surrounding DFW areas.