As the nation slowly recovers from one of the worst recessions in its history, many people are concerned about how divorce may affect their finances. However, there are options available to help people keep down the costs of divorce and to emerge from divorce with a clear understanding of their assets and debt obligations.
While people may hear stories of million-dollar divorce settlements and enormous child support obligations, these cases are not typical. Most often, people emerge from divorce without financial ruin.
The Wall Street Journal reports that financial advisors urge people to prepare for divorce the same way they prepare for any other unexpected major financial expense. Terry Headley, president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, recommends setting aside income for several months to save cash to cover both spouses’ costs in the divorce.
Other approaches to financial preparation for divorce include buying either divorce or marriage insurance, which provide coverage in case of an eventual divorce or in case a wedding is called off. Divorce insurance is sold by Safe Guard Guaranty Corp., and it only provides coverage if the spouses have been married at least four years to prevent people from buying the insurance when they already know divorce is imminent. Wedding insurance covers expenses when a wedding is canceled, or if it is rescheduled due to weather or other problems, according to the Wall Street Journal.
These types of insurance policies may provide assurance to some people and potentially constrain the monetary consequences of the ends of their marriages. However, a basic understanding of Texas’ divorce laws and the representation of a knowledgeable family law attorney also can help people understand and reduce the financial implications of divorce .
In Texas, all of the property and income a person acquires while married is presumed to be the community property of the married couple, which means the judge has the authority to divide this property. This would include income from a salary, contribution to a retirement account and appreciation of a capital asset like a home that occurs during a marriage. If a spouse proves by the requisite standard that certain property is his or her separate property, the judge would have no authority over this property except to confirm ownership to the owner spouse. Separate property would include property that a spouse acquired prior to the marriage, property a spouse acquires during the marriage by gift or inheritance, property that mutated from a separate property asset or personal injury recoveries other than loss of earning capacity. When spouses get divorced in Texas, their community property is divided according to what a judge deems “just and right” considering the unique circumstances of each spouse. If there is a reasonable basis for doing so, the distribution of community property may not be equal. As indicated above, a spouse’s separate property is not divided upon divorce.
According to Texas case law, judges consider several factors when making property division decisions, including:
- The different earning power of the spouses
- The education and future employability of the spouses
- Fault in the breakup of the marriage
- The health of the spouses
- The joint debt of the spouses
- The tax consequences of the marital property division
- The spouse who will have custody of any children
- The needs of the children, if any
- Attorneys fees to be paid by each spouse
For advice on the best approach to divorce and marital property division for you, contact an experienced family law lawyer. An attorney will zealously advocate for your interests in your divorce and help you reach the most favorable outcome possible.