When the warning signs of a fractured relationship with your spouse have been surfacing for quite a while, many people are still caught off guard when their spouse asks for “The Divorce”. Although the husband may cause marriage problems, about 75% of divorces are initiated by the wife.
Usually one spouse is in shock/denial and may want to truly try to salvage the marriage. At times a spouse will try to blame the other spouse of being a quitter for wanting to be legally released from an unacceptable marriage. Often the non-initiating spouse is at the point where it is a relief that “The Divorce” question has surfaced and will readily agree that divorce is the right option.
Marriage and family is not an easy proposition at times and sometimes it is easier to just say goodbye and return to single life. But if you truly love your spouse and family you should look at the warning signs and try to change the direction of the marriage. Every relationship has its up and downs and needs new considerations at times. Take time to review your relationship and catch early warning signs that the marriage may be running off its tracks.
What are some serious signs that you and your spouse could be headed for a DIVORCE?
- Spouse interaction is more negative than positive: Marriage researcher, Dr. John Gottman researched the negative/positive effect and found that stable marriages have 5:1 ratio of positivity to negativity during conflict. Whereas unstable marriages have .8:1 ratio of positivity to negativity during conflict (Gottman & Levenson 1999). The acceleration of verbal criticism, nagging, and sarcasm in a relationship can be a definite sign that there is trouble in the marriage.
- Stonewalling when “you can’t break down the wall”: Stonewalling is a refusal to communicate or cooperate through body language or verbally shutting down when a situation with your spouse gets out of control and you don’t know how to handle the situation. This is very serious and may be the time to bring in a marriage counselor to help work through this problem.
- No Conflict Resolution: Marriage researcher, John Gottman, states that the lack of communication isn’t the marriage breaker but the lack of effective conflict resolution. This is a very serious problem when couples can’t reasonably work out their differences without causing injury to their relationship and finally quit communicating with each other to avoid more disagreement and conflict.
Other times one spouse or both have reached the point where every conflict has become a situation that must be “won” by bullying the other spouse into submission. There must be a “winner” but with this win comes mutual loss of respect, increasing distance and eventual withdrawal from the relationship.
- Emotional and Physical Disengagement and Disaffection: When couples can’t communicate, they will find different avenues for emotional engagements. Many neglected spouses will look out of the marriage at other values or priorities that helps them feel connected. A new religion, lifestyle, or job opportunity that the other spouse would never agree with can now be a reality for them.
Emotional Disengagement is usually accompanied by withdrawal of affection. Couples in a divorce situation consider themselves “fallen out of love” with their spouse.
- Sudden Change in Behavior? Has your partner suddenly started caring more about their appearance and spending more time “away from” home. Or more time is spent with their children and instead of “our marriage” everything is centered around “our children”?
Has your sex life disappeared? This is a good indicator that your emotional disengagement is advancing steadily and the spouses take no pleasure in each other. These are serious signals of rapidly eroding bonds in your marriage if not in a terminal state.
- Preparation for the “Single Life”: As people get tired of dealing with each other and the total indifference of the relationship, they will start living parallel lives and finally dissolve their personal relationship. Many couples heading for divorce will take up new habits and friends that differ from their spouses. New social networks will be centered around a single lifestyle.
Sounds like your current life with your spouse? DON’T GIVE UP YET! IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO SALVAGE A FADING MARRIAGE! If people will realize that a marriage is not perfect and there will be conflict a certain percentage of time. Concentrate on working out a solution together to have a positive, loving relationship that can withstand the bad times. Just Remember: there was some spark that drew you to your spouse. Try to find it again or divorce.
In any Divorce case a father or husband should expect two attacks right out of the door. First, is paying for child support because most District Judges in Dallas, Tarrant, and Collin counties do not look favourably on 50/50 custody during temporary orders. Second, is paying temporary spousal maintenance to the wife.
Temporary spousal maintenance is essentially money that the Court forces a husband to pay his wife during the pendency of the divorce. Unfortunately, the District Judge has broad discretion in awarding the amount and duration of the temporary spousal maintenance. The temporary spousal maintenance is awarded based on considerations of both the degree to which the Spouse is destitute of means to pay for her necessities during the pendency of the suit and the ability of the Husband to pay.
Essentially, these considerations are determined by the Judge and if the Spouse has no job or means to support herself then, the Husband should expect a large percentage of his paycheck to go to the Spouse for the duration of the case. In many cases, if the Ex-Wife has the means to support herself, the Court will still award her spousal maintenance to some extent. The amount that the Court fixes as temporary spousal maintenance is likely permanent until the conclusion of the case and only appealable on mandamus. Usually, the appeal will cost more than paying the Spouse. Unfortunately, the Court uses temporary spousal maintenance to help settle cases by forcing the Husband to support both individuals of the party.
If you are seeking a divorce and have a job that provides well for your family, prepare to be attacked for child support and temporary spousal maintenance for the duration of the case. To mitigate the temporary spousal maintenance amount and seek 50/50 custody with your children, find an experienced attorney that can prepare you for the temporary orders. Temporary spousal maintenance is a tool the Court uses to equalize the estate and force a compromise. Divorce is a painful process and temporary spousal maintenance makes the process even more painful, but regrettably the burden primarily falls upon the Husband’s neck.
Nacol Law Firm PC
Yes, it is the Holiday Season and no, you are not happy! Yes, there is A Grinch who is trying to steal Christmas, but it does not have to be you. From personal experience, sometimes when you personally are at a very low point in your life, think about others (children, other family members, and friends) who love you and need someone to make their lives happy!
From practicing family law for a long time now, I believe there are elements in divorce that will never change:
- You can not make someone love you and stay with you if they choose not to.
- The only person that you can be completely responsible for in behavior is YOURSELF!
- If you choose to have a bad attitude and try to hurt your EX by alienating your children, then not only are you not winning the divorce game, but you are causing serious damage to your Children. Even if you win, you are a loser. The Kids didn’t ask for this Divorce, they are often stuck because Mom and Dad couldn’t be happy together!
After considering these ideas and deciding no, you are not happy, try giving some effort to help make your family happier this Holiday Season., Like the Grinch, maybe your family’s joy will help you feel just a little bit better!
Here are my “New Divorce No No Rules” that will make the Holiday Season happier for the entire family including your EX:
- No talking bad about the other spouse! This is your battle, not the kids! The kids are still related to their other parent and love that parent.
- Work on new traditions that involve all family members with their likes and desires. Mommy and Daddy are not together anymore, a great time for some fun changes in the Holidays. Look to a wonderful new future and adventure for the family and don’t look back!
- Get with your ex-spouse and determine the holiday schedule. Share this schedule with the kids so they will know what is going on and what time will be shared with both parents. Meanness will not be tolerated, be nice!
- Talk with your ex-spouse about coordinating presents. Many divorcing couples try to one up the other parent and this really puts the child into a very uncomfortable situation. Also, a smart money saving idea.
- Talk with the children on their ideas for the Holidays. If they would like to have the entire family together for possibly Christmas Eve, or Christmas Morning, this may be a great idea! Remember: this is not totally about your feelings, it is about the love and needs of your family.
“The more you give in to the love of your family, the better you will feel in your heart.”
You, my friend will eventually get over this hurt and go on with your life, but it is always the decisions you make to help your children cope with this family split that will determine your true character as a parent and a person.
Hoping you and your family will have a wonderful Holiday Season and this blog has help to put a smile on your face! —-Mark A. Nacol
Consider the legal consequences of Trusts regarding the characterization of marital property, especially Trusts created by separate property prior or after marriage. A Trust can be a creative and useful tool depending on the perspective and actual need of the parties. To a spouse owning substantial separate property, an irrevocable Trust may be a safe haven that will guard the separate property and potentially the income from the separate property against property divisions in a Divorce Court. On the other hand, in some cases, a spouse that has no separate property may be defrauded by the other spouse.
The Texas Courts have indicated that separate Trusts created prior to marriage, that are irrevocable spendthrift Trusts are a valid means to shelter separate property of the marriage and the income from the trusts are not subject to division during the divorce proceedings. The beneficiary of the separate Trust (the spouse with the separate trust or beneficiary of a separate trust) do not have a present possessory right to any asset within the corpus of the Trusts. If the spouse is granted a present possessory right to any portion of the trust in the trusts, then the income from the Trusts may be divided in a Divorce Court as community property.
This is an area of concern to the other spouse. If you are married to an unsavory spouse, where separate property assets owned prior to the marriage are put into an irrevocable spendthrift trust, take measure to insure no money or other property acquired during the marriage is siphoned into those separate Trusts. One spouse may siphon community property throughout the marriage into separate Trusts in order to deplete the community estate. This constitutes fraud on the community estate and the innocent spouse may seek adequate compensation.
It is important to hire an experienced attorney that understand the intricacies of Trusts and the part Trusts can play in sheltering community funds from a spouse during the marriage. Many wealthy men or women may abuse the Trust formation to defraud their spouses from fair community property allocation. Wealthy spouses may use irrevocable or discretionary Trusts created prior to the marriage for asset protection instead of using prenuptial agreements or post marriage property agreements. The case law is still not completely settled in Texas regarding irrevocable Trust as they pertain to divorce and it is important to hire an attorney that can help guide you through these complexities and insure you are not being defrauded or taken advantage of in a divorce proceeding.
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:
- fault in breakup of the marriage;
- the benefits that the innocent spouse would have derived had the marriage continued;
- disparity in the spouses’ income and earning capacities;
- each spouse’s business opportunities;
- differences in the spouses’ education;
- physical health and need for future support;
- the relative ages of the parties;
- each spouse’s financial condition and obligations;
- the size of each spouse’s separate estate and any expected inheritance;
- the nature of the spouses’ property;
- the rights of the children of the marriage;
- waste of community assets or constructive fraud against the community;
- gifts by one spouse to the other; and
- 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.