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Divorce Checklist – Preparing your Finances for a Texas Divorce

Preparing for a Texas Divorce:  Assets

Going through a Divorce is painful no matter the circumstances. Before you get into the Texas Divorce Process, you can reduce expense, stress, and conflict by making sure you are financially prepared. Advanced planning 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. This is a very general checklist. Disregard what is not pertinent to your situation.

Documents:

  1. Taxes (at least three years) 
  • Federal Tax Return
  • State Tax Return
  • W2
  • Tax Liens
  • All other IRS related documents
  1. Wills and Trusts with all attachments reflecting corpus and trust holdings
  2. Listing of all liabilities (including mortgages, credit card debt, personal loans, automobile loans, student 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 (from last 3 years)
  1. A Listing of the address and location of all Real Property, (includes time-shares, vacation properties, commercial property, and lots):
  • 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) for all Primary and Secondary Mortgages
  • Evidence of purchase gift or inheritance documents
  • Current fair market value.
  • Appraisals
  1. Motor Vehicles (including mobile homes, boats, trailers, motorcycles, recreational vehicles; exclude company owned):
  • Year, Make, Model of all Motor Vehicles
  • 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
  • Current statements from last 3 years
  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
  • Names on Account and Account Number
  • Social Security Documents
  • Pension Documents
  • Company loans and documents related to benefits
  • At least 3 years statements on all pertinent accounts
  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 (Date of start of plan is especially important for divorce settlement)
  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
  • 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)
  2. Household furniture, furnishings, and Fixtures
  • photos
  • purchase documents
  1. Electronics and computers including software and hard drives
  2. Antiques, artwork, and collectibles (including works of art, paintings, tapestry, rugs, crystal, furniture, quilts) All major collections always need to be appraised! (Cars, Guns, Jewelry, Coins & Stamps, Action Figures, and Books) 
  3. Miscellaneous sporting goods and firearms
  4. Jewelry including appraisals
  5. Animals and livestock
  6. Farming equipment
  7. Club Memberships
  8. Safe deposit box items
  9. Burial plots including documents of ownership
  10. Items in any storage facility
  11. Travel Awards Benefits (including frequent flyer miles)

You may decide to divorce or not, but it is very important to have all financial information before you enter into a Texas Divorce! This is a very general Divorce Financial Asset Checklist. Disregard what is not pertinent to your situation.  

After reviewing this list, you may also decide to go and review the Family Information FormThis form is basic information about you and your spouse. By the time you are looking at this, you will realize that you may not really know your spouse’s information.  You will need to know the correct information before filing for divorce in Texas.   

These two informational lists will prepare you with the basic financial information that any divorce attorney will need to get your divorce started. 

You can click on these links to download and print our Texas Divorce Financial Checklist and Family Information Form for a Texas Divorce

Nacol Law Firm P.C.
Dallas Fathers Rights Attorneys
Call (972) 690-3333

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.

Child Support Modification in Texas – Done Within Three Years

Child support is one of the most heavily litigated issues in all of family law. To increase or decrease payments there are specific requirements that must be met to modify a previous child support order. Per Tex. Fam. Code § 156.401 the requirements necessary to modify a prior child support order are:

  1. The circumstances of the child or an affected party have materially and substantially changed; or
  2. Three years have elapsed since the order was entered or last modified, and the amount of child support differs from the statutory guidelines by either 20% or $100.00.

The second requirement is self-explanatory. The three-year limitation to file for another modification is for the benefits of the Courts. If there was no three-year waiting period to refill, then every conservator would constantly attempt to modify child support, thus creating endless litigation for clogging the Courts’ dockets.

The first requirement needs more explanation. A Material and Substantial change in the circumstances of the child or an affected party must be clearly shown at trial. Many Courts are meticulous in making the determination of what a Material and Substantial change is regarding the child and the affected party to insure this requirement is not abused for excessive litigation.

To prove a Substantial and Material change in circumstances, a conservator must show evidence at the final hearing of:

  1. The financial needs/expenses at the time of the divorce or prior modification for the children and the person affected, and;
  2. The financial needs/expenses at the time of the request for the modification.

If evidence of financial needs/expenses are not submitted and proved regarding both (1) the prior divorce/modification and (2) the recent modification, then no Substantial and Material change can be adequately proved. Further, if the request for modification of child support is predicated solely on one conservator’s increase in earning capacity, absent other compelling evidence, the change in circumstances is not Substantial and Material. Interest of L.R., 416 S.W.3d 675, (Tex. App.—Houston [14 Dist.] 2013, pet. denied.)

If one conservator decides to file a modification of child support within three years just because the other conservative received a better job, it may be dismissed. At the end of the day a Court has broad discretion on determining what is Substantial and Material and may allow the case to be heard and give an unfavourable ruling, but if that occurs you will have the ability to appeal the judgment and request attorney’s fees. It is important to know in any family law case the Judge has extremely broad discretion and interprets case law in a way that he deems fit using the Best Interest Test.

If you are a conservator that meet these requirements above and wish to increase or decrease the child support obligation, be sure to hire an experienced attorney. Nacol Law Firm will always fight for you and your children’s best interest.

Julian Nacol, Attorney
Nacol Law Firm, PC
Call (972) 690-3333