Divorce

Jun
06

Thinking of a Texas Divorce? Prepare A Divorce Financial Checklist For Your Next Move

Preparing for a Texas Divorce: Assets

Going through a Divorce is painful no matter what the circumstances are. 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 your marriage.
We have included many assets that you may or may not have. This is only a financial checklist of multiple assets for your review so you will not miss an important asset that needs to be reported.

Documents:

1. Tax Returns (at least three years) or Tax Liens and all IRS related documents

2. Wills and Trusts with all attachments reflecting corpus and trust holdings

3. 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

4. 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

5. 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

6. 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

7. A listing of separate property (property owned prior to marriage, family heirlooms, property gifted, inherited property):
—Records that trace your separate property. These assets will remain yours if properly documented

8. Retirement & Pension 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

9. Publicly traded stock, bonds and other securities (including 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

10. 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

11. 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

12. 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, working 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

13. Money owed by spouse (including any expected federal or state income tax refund but not including receivables connected with any business)

14. Household furniture, furnishings and Fixtures
—photos
—purchase receipts and documents

15. Electronics and computers including software and hard drive

16. 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)

17. Miscellaneous sporting goods and firearms

18. Jewelry including appraisals

19. Animals and livestock

20. Farming equipment

21. Club Memberships

22. Safe deposit box items

23. Burial plots including documents of ownership

24. Items in any storage facility

25. Travel Awards Benefits (including frequent flyer miles)

DETAIL
Jun
06

Children – The Innocent Bystanders of Divorce

Divorce, in many cases, has a life-altering impact on a child’s development and well-being.  Given that one out of every two marriages ends in divorce, thousands of children are impacted each year. Divorce places enormous stress on a child trying to adjust to new feelings and rapidly changing situations in their lives. The resulting instability often leads to resentment towards the child’s parents and a difficulty acclimating to all the abrupt and immediate changes in a child’s life.

Children perceive divorce as a very traumatic event and are very concerned about their security. Many children internalize the dissolution and blame themselves for the breakup. They are scared that both parents may leave them.

Some very disturbing research on children and divorce has just been released by the Census Bureau Study, “The Marital Events of Americans: 2009”.

*1.5% of US children live in the home of a parent who divorced in the last year. The average age of the child is 9.8 yrs. old and the male/female ration is 1:1.

*64% of the children were White, non- Hispanic children, with the largest percentage living in the South (41%).

*Children living with a divorced parent are likely to be in a household below the poverty level (28%) and more likely to be living in a rented home (53%).

*Most children live in a mother headed households (73%). Because mothers have lower earning potential in the labor force, the family often lives below the poverty level.

*These children of divorce are often living with their parents’ unmarried partner (13%).  Only 5% of the children are living in a household with a married couple.

Children of divorce often suffer from anxiety, depression and reduced self-esteem issues.  Robert Hughes, associate professor in the Dept. of Human Development and Family Science, Ohio State University, found that children from divorce are more aggressive and more likely to get in to trouble with school authorities or police during adolescence. Also children from divorce are more vulnerable to becoming a victim of violence or become a perpetrator of violent acts on themselves and or others.

If you are considering divorce, carefully consider the impact on your children. To help children through this difficult time, parents must realize and accept that they are responsible for this situation and that their children often suffer as a result of the parent’s decision.

Parents should be very sensitive to the child’s emotional needs to ensure the best possible adjustment of his or her mental, physical, spiritual well-being towards a healthy, responsible adult.  Remember! Your child is the “Innocent Bystander.”

Seek professional help if you child is struggling with the changes in his or her life. Your attorney knows a resource that may be available to address your child’s pressing needs.

By Nacol Law Firm | Impact on Children
DETAIL
Apr
11

Division of Marital Assets in a Texas Divorce

Texas law requires trial courts to divide the estate of the parties in a manner that is just and fair having due regard for the rights of each party and any children of the marriage.  Tex. Fam. Code Ann. 7.001.  A disproportionate division must have a reasonable basis.  Smith v. Smith, 143 S.W.3d 206, 214 (Tex. App. – Waco 2004, no pet.).  The trial court has broad discretion in determining the disposition of property in a divorce action.  If there is some evidence of a substantive and probative character to support the division, the trial court does not abuse its discretion if it orders an unequal division of marital estate.  However, the division should not be a punishment for the spouse at fault.  There is a difference between making a just and right division of the property with due regard for the children of the marriage and punishing the errant spouse.  In general, the trial courts in Texas have perceived this distinction. 

Generally, in a fault-based divorce, the court may consider the conduct of the errant spouse in making a disproportionate distribution of the marital estate.  Young v. Young, 609 S.W.2d 758, 761-62 (Tex. 1980).  This does not mean that fault must be considered.

The Texas Family Code sections 3.02 and 3.07 provide six circumstances when a divorce decree may be granted in favor of one spouse.  These include the traditional fault grounds for divorce of cruelty, adultery, and abandonment.  These sections were codified by the Legislature into the Family Code along with section 3.01 which provides for “no-fault” divorce based on insupportability because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.

Texas courts have considered the following factors when equitably dividing a community estate: 

  1. fault in breakup of the marriage;
  2. the benefits that the innocent spouse would have derived had the marriage continued;
  3. disparity in the spouses’ income and earning capacities;
  4. each spouse’s business opportunities;
  5. differences in the spouses’ education;
  6. physical health and need for future support;
  7. the relative ages of the parties;
  8. each spouse’s financial condition and obligations;
  9. the size of each spouse’s separate estate and any expected inheritance;
  10. the nature of the spouses’ property;
  11. the rights of the children of the marriage;
  12. waste of community assets or constructive fraud against the community;
  13. gifts by one spouse to the other; and
  14. tax liabilities.

The court need not divide the community estate equally.  Smallwood v. Smallwood, 548 S.W.2d 796, 797 (Tex. Civ. App. – Waco 1977, no writ).  The court has a broad discretion in making a just and right division, and absent a clear abuse of discretion, such decision will not be disturbed.  Murff v. Murff, S.W.2d 696, 698-99 (Tex. 1981); Boyd v. Boyd, 131 S.W. 3d 605, 610 (Tex. App. – Fort Worth 2005, no pet.) 

When there is no evidence or insufficient evidence to support the property division or an award of attorney’s fees, the appellate court must reverse or remand such decision for a new trial.  Sadone v. Miller-Sadone, 116 S.W.3d 204, 208 (Tex. App. – El Paso 2003, no pet). 

A party who seeks to assert the separate character of property must prove that character by clear and convincing evidence.  Clear and convincing evidence is that measure or degree of proof that will produce in the mind of the trier of fact (judge or jury) a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegation. 

In a popular decision Phillips v. Phillips, 75 S.W.3d 564 (Tex. App. – Beaumont 2002, no pet.), Chief Justice Walker opined that because legislature has now authorized “no fault” divorce, fault could no longer be considered in dividing community estate.  However, In Re Brown, 187 S.W.3d 143, 2006 Tex. App. LEXIS 686 (Tex. App. Waco 2006) states that what is “just and right” in dividing the property should not depend on the ground on which the divorce is granted; the just and right division of property is separate from the dissolution issue. If one spouse’s conduct causes the destruction of the financial benefits of a particular marriage, benefits on which the other spouse relied, a trial court should have discretion to consider that factor in dividing the community estate – regardless of the basis for granting the divorce.

To prove a disproportionate division of assets in a divorce case, counsel must put on clear and convincing evidence.  Without such support, there will be no disproportionate division of community estate.  The circumstances of each marriage dictate what factors should be considered in the property division upon divorce.

By Nacol Law Firm | Property and Asset Division
DETAIL
Mar
01

Summer Visitation Schedules for Texas Fathers

This question causes many divorced or single parents much stress concerning meaningful contact with their children. “What do I need to do to legally secure my specific summer visitation periods with my kids?”. Here is a general breakdown of Texas law on summer visitation:

Family code: 153.312: Notification of Summer Visitation: Parents who reside 100 miles or less apart.

A possessory conservator gives the managing conservator written notice by April 1 of each year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession, the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child for 30 days beginning not earlier than the day after the child’s school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending not later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, to be exercised in not more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each, with each period of possession beginning and ending at 6 p.m. on each applicable day; or does not give the managing conservator written notice by April 1 of each year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession, the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child for 30 consecutive days beginning at 6 p.m. on July 1 and ending at 6 p.m. on July 31;

If the managing conservator gives the possessory conservator written notice by April 15 of each year, the managing conservator shall have possession of the child on any one weekend beginning Friday at 6 p.m. and ending at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday during one period of possession by the possessory conservator under Subdivision (2), provided that the managing conservator picks up the child from the possessory conservator and returns the child to that same place;
and
If the managing conservator gives the possessory conservator written notice by April 15 of each year or gives the possessory conservator 14 days’ written notice on or after April 16 of each year, the managing conservator may designate one weekend beginning not earlier than the day after the child’s school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending not later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, during which an otherwise scheduled weekend period of possession by the possessory conservator will not take place, provided that the weekend designated does not interfere with the possessory conservator’s period or periods of extended summer possession or with Father’s Day if the possessory conservator is the father of the child.

Divorce, paternity or other orders setting out access/possession rights should specifically set out this information. Such orders are usually custom and specific on times and dates for summer and other holiday visitations.

In today’s world, a statutory preset structured visitation schedule does not always work in a blended family environment. Many fathers are now either sole managing conservator or co-managing conservators with the mother. The current standard visitation schedule is used more as a basic presumed schedule to which extended time may be added for cause good for more equal shared time with the children.

With an enlightened public awareness and presumption under law that children need quality time with both parents, many parents are looking for modifications to child visitation orders that agrees with their lifestyles to share their children equally and fairly.

DETAIL
Jan
19

Divorce’s Emotional Stages: Are You There Yet?

In 2014, The United States at 53%, had the 10th highest divorce rate in the world! According to the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology: 50% of first marriages, 67% of second marriages and 74% of third marriages end in Divorce in the United States.

Marriages do not break up overnight. There is not one incident or one party that ends a marriage. Your emotional break up usually extends over several years with the marriage parties continually at different stages in the emotional process.

Just remember,” no marriage is totally bad nor totally good!” Do not go fault finding!  Both partners stay in a marriage for a longer period of time because there are good things about it. Now the couple is divorcing because the “bad” things make the marriage not work anymore.

A new divorce survey by Slater and Gordon Law Firm (survey of 1000 divorced people) recently came out with some very interesting results:

  • The average person will spend about 2 years thinking about a divorce before they file.
  • During this time the average person spends 18 months really trying to fix their marriage and working to save it.
  • 76% try to fix their marriage problems before deciding on a divorce
  • 53% discuss divorce with someone besides their spouse before filing
  • 36% spoke with an attorney before deciding on a divorce

What are the emotional stages a couple will experience leading up to a divorce?

1. Disillusionment of one / two marriage partners ( not verbalized to other partner)

  • Continued, ongoing feelings of discontent, pent up resentments and breach of trust
  • Emotional feelings of anxiety, anger, denial, depression ,fear, grief, guilt ,and  love
  • Real problem but unacknowledged
  • Developing greater distance, lack of mutuality, and increase in arguments
  • Consideration of pros and cons of possible divorce and/or separation

2. Verbalized Dissatisfaction ( no legal action yet)

  • Feelings of anguish, doubt, emotional, grief, guilt, relief, and tension after expression of discontent is now in the open!
  • Marriage counseling and giving “one last try” for the marriage

3. Decision to Divorce ( no legal action yet)

  • Feelings of anger, anxiety of the future, guilt, resentment, and sadness
  • Other partner now in emotional stage one and both parties feeling victimized by each other.
  • Realizes this decision is usually not reversible

Divorce Decision Action (the legal process begins)

  • Feelings of anger, blame, shame, fear, and guilt
  • Emotional and physical separation
  • Going public with decision to family and friends
  • Dealing with the “Children Problem”. No way around this one.
  • Hiring an attorney and start the divorce process

4. Acceptance of Divorce / Single Life ( during the legal process or after)

  • Many life adjustments: emotional, mental, and physical
  • Realization that the marriage was not fulfilling or happy
  • Dealing with your children and helping them to understand they are loved and did not cause the end of the marriage
  • Work on developing the “new single you”, new identity and a plan for the future!

This emotional roller-coaster may take years to complete, but keep focused and you will get through it.  Surround yourself with competent legal professionals who will help you through this life changing event.

Just remember this: the divorce emotional stages are a normal occurrence when going through a divorce.  Outside of a death, divorce is one of the most life changing events in an individual’s life.  This list is very basic and you will probably add many other emotions on to the list You are not alone. It is a grieving process and you will recover.

By Nacol Law Firm | Filing for a Divorce
DETAIL

Please contact father’s rights Dallas Attorney Mark Nacol, or father’s rights Dallas Attorney Julian Nacol with the Nacol Law Firm P.C., for legal insight to your rights as a father. Both attorney Mark Nacol, and attorney Julian Nacol , provide counsel in the area of family law including divorce, father’s rights, interstate jurisdiction, child support, child custody, visitation, paternity, parent alienation, modifications, property division, asset division and more. Attorney Mark A. Nacol is board certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Our attorneys at The Nacol Law Firm P.C. serve 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, Prosper, Richardson, Rowlett and University Park, Murphy,Wylie, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Irving, along with surrounding DFW areas.

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