Property and Asset Division

Oct
07

Getting a Divorce? Should I Move Out of the Marital Home?

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.

By Nacol Law Firm | Property and Asset Division
DETAIL
Oct
07

Unique Possession Orders that Work with a Fathers Profession

Many professions create impositions on conservators making a standard possession order inapplicable and unworkable. The Court may deviate from a standard possession order if the order is inappropriate or unworkable in reference to the schedules of both the conservators and the child. Unique professions and irregular school schedules for children allow the Court to have flexibility to deviate from a standard possession order that is in the Best Interest of the Child. There are multiple ways in which the Court may depart from a standard possession order to fulfill the needs of all parties involved with the custody of the child.

First, the Family Code § 153.254 states that the Court will be allowed deference to modify the standard possession order if work schedules of either conservators or the school schedule of the child is irregular. The Court must attempt to narrowly tailor the modifications to keep the new possession order as similar to the standard possession order as possible. This instance most commonly occurs when the Managing Conservator and the Possessory Conservator cannot reach an agreement and one of the two Conservators has a unique profession such as a firefighter, police officer, or airline pilot. The working hours of these jobs allow the Court to modify the standard possession order even if both of the parties do not comply with the changes. The modifications must be made only if it is in the Best Interest of the Child.

Secondly, the standard possession order may always be modified if it is by the mutual agreement of both the Managing Conservator and Possessory Conservator. Family Code § 153.007 is the Agreed Parenting Plan Statute and allows for both parties to agree on a standard possession order for the child. This statute was passed to promote amicability in settlement for child custody issues and to give flexibility to the parents if they are willing to agree on custody terms. The Agreed Parenting Plan must be in the Best Interest of the Child for the Court to approve. If the Court grants the Agreed Parenting Plan then the Managing or Possessory Conservator will have a remedy as a matter of law for any violation of the agreement committed by either party.

Finally, both Conservators may enter into a Mediated Settlement Agreement under Family Code § 153.0071. A Mediated Settlement Agreement is the only time in which the Court will NOT look at the Best Interest of the Child when granting the custody agreement.

The Mediated Settlement Agreement § 153.0071 must be:

  • In bold, underlined, and capital letters that the agreement is NOT REVOCABLE
  • Signed by Both Parties to the agreement
  • Signed by the lawyers (if represented) of each party

The Mediated Settlement Agreement is binding and not revocable so if the Conservators wish to go this route they must understand that what is in the agreement will be held as binding. This method can be used to modify or change a standard possession order and the Court will not look at the Best Interest of the Child regarding the agreement, unless there exists a credible threat of domestic violence.

These are the methods in which a unique possession order may be obtained to accommodate irregular schedules or working hours of both the conservators. Any possession order must be correctly drafted and all future contingencies must be accounted for. An experienced lawyer must be contacted to safeguard an individual’s custody rights of their children and to make sure that a fair custody arrangement is obtained.

DETAIL
Sep
22

How To Avoid Major Financial Pitfalls in a Divorce

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!

  1. Have you overlooked any Divorce 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.

    1. 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!

    1. 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.

    1. 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!

  1. 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.

DETAIL
Sep
16

Fatherhood in America 2019 – Changing Trends!

Many Fathers are becoming more aware and knowledgeable about home, fatherhood and what this really means to the growth and mental wellness of their children.  Whether they live with their child and mom, are a single parent, or as a divorced parent, or co-parent, studies in the last 10 yrs have shown the importance of the involvement of the father in promoting the child’s well-being, especially regarding issues of diet/nutrition, exercise, play and parenting behaviors. Most fathers are present at their child’s birth, even though 40% of births are between unmarried couples.
( AAPpublications.org/news/2016/13/Fathers061316 ).

Today’s fathers are taking a very active role in caring for their children and helping around the house.  The share of stay-at- home dads has increased to 17% in 2016, up from 10% in 1989. 68% of fathers who stay at home to care for family are younger than 45. (Pew Report/2018/09/24/Stay-at-home-moms-and-dads). Younger fathers are leading the trend for more quality family time with their children. Sadly, 63% say they spend too little time with their kids, with only 36% says they spend the right amount of time with their children (www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/10/18/methodology-12/).  Could this be because many of these younger fathers were raised in divorced or single parent families?  

Pew Research Center 6/13/2018 published a new survey on “7 Facts about American Dads” and this is very eye opening. Here are some of the more interesting items:

  • 57% of Fathers see parenting as central to their Identity and 54% report parenting is rewarding all the time.
  • Dads are more involved in child care averaging about eight (8) hours weekly on child care and 10 hours a week on household chores, which is about triple the time provided in 1965.
  • Work-Family balance challenge for Fathers: 52% of Fathers say it is difficult, but 48% of dads say they need the income for the family.
  • Who is the better Care Giver? Mom or Dad? 53% of Adults still say Mom, but 45% of Adults now say fathers and mothers do equally well.  
  • Most Americans (64%) say men and women have different approaches to parenting. 56% of Americans say the gender difference in parenting is a Good Thing.
  • Seven-in ten adults say it’s equally important for new babies to bond with both their father and mother.  49% of adults said employers put more pressure on Fathers to return to work quickly after the birth or adoption of a new child.

This is really a good time to be a Dad!  Public Opinions are changing about who is the better parent for the child’s growth, influence and advancement to healthy, positive adulthood. In the legal arena, States Legislatures and Courts are working on changing obsolete laws and statues favoring one parent over another and trying to work on having more even opportunities for both parents to equally raise their child.

If you are a father and having problems with having or enforcing your rights with your child, don’t give up. You are important to your child. Find a caring Attorney who can help.

Nacol Law Firm PC  

Dallas, Tx 75231

By Nacol Law Firm | Property and Asset Division
DETAIL
Aug
07

Getting a Texas Divorce? Know what Marital Property is Community or Separate

In Texas, Community Property Laws apply in determining the Property Distributions to a wife and husband.  This system is employed to divide the property fairly between the divorcing couple.

What is Separate Property?  Texas Family Law Code, FAM 3.001: A spouse’s separate property consists of:

    1. The property owned or claimed by the spouse before marriage

    1. The property acquired by the spouse during marriage by gift, devise, or descent

  1. The recovery for personal injuries sustained by 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 means 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.

Under Texas Constitution, Art. XVI, Section 15, separate property is defined as all property, both real and personal, of a spouse owned or claimed before marriage, and that acquired afterward by gift, devise or descent, shall be the separate property of that spouse; and laws shall be passed more clearly defining the rights of the spouses, in relation to separate  and community property; provided that persons about to marry and spouses, without the intention to defraud pre-existing creditors, may by written instrument from time to time partition between themselves all or part of their property, then existing or to be acquired, or exchange between themselves the community interest of one spouse or future spouse in any property for the community interest of the other spouse or future spouse in other community property then existing or to be acquired, whereupon the portion or interest set aside to each spouse shall be and constitute a part of the separate property and estate of such spouse or future spouse; spouses may also from time to time, by written instrument, agree between themselves that the income or property from all or part of the separate property then owned or which thereafter might be acquired by only one of them, shall be the separate property of that spouse; if one spouse makes a gift of property to the other that gift is presumed to include all income or property which might arise from that gift of property; and spouses may agree in writing that all or part of the separate property owned by either or both of them shall be the spouses’ community property.

What Is Community Property? Texas Family Law Code, FAM 3.002:  Community property consists of the property, other than separate property, acquired by either spouse during the marriage.

Texas Family Code, Section 3.003 states that all property possessed by either spouse during or at the dissolution of the marriage is presumed to be community property and that the degree of proof necessary to establish that property is separate property, rather than community property, is clear and convincing evidence.  Clear and convincing evidence is defined as that measure or degree of proof that will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established.  If property cannot be proved clearly and convincingly to be separate property, then it is deemed to be community property.

The Texas Family Code, Section 7.002, deals with quasi-community property and requires a court divide property wherever the property is situated, if 1) the property was acquired by either spouse while domiciled in another state and the property would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property had been domiciled in Texas at the time of acquisition; or 2) property was acquired by either spouse in exchange for real or personal property and that property would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property so exchanged had been domiciled in Texas at the time of the acquisition.

What about Property Acquired during Marriage? Property in which inception of title occurs during marriage is community property unless it is acquired in one of the following manner, in which it becomes separate property of the acquiring spouse:

    1. By gift

    1. By devise or descent

    1. By a partition or exchange agreement or premarital agreement specifying that the asset is separate

    1. As income from separate property made separate as a result of a gift, a premarital agreement or a partition and exchange agreement

    1. By survivorship

    1. In exchange for other separate property

  1. As recovery for personal injuries sustained by the spouse during marriage, except any recovery for loss of earning capacity during marriage.

During a divorce, it is important that both parties know what type of property is involved in the divorce and what is separate and community property. This knowledge may determine or influence what each party will receive at the end of the settlement.

By Nacol Law Firm | Property and Asset Division
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