You know that a marriage is a legal relationship between two people, and hardly anyone goes into a marriage thinking that they will one day get divorced. The unfortunate reality, however, is there are circumstances that make staying together nearly impossible for many couples. While preparing for the tough road ahead, limited knowledge of Texas divorce proceedings may leave individuals at a loss for what their obligations, options and opportunities really are. This makes it difficult to make good decisions.
As an experienced Dallas divorce attorney, I’ve helped many individuals as they proceed with divorce and face a new life.
Because most people don’t know the options available to them in divorce, they are not aware of the things the court can do to help or protect them. It is my job as a family lawyer to inform my clients of the choices they have, so they can make the best decisions for themselves, as well as their families. I consider it my privilege as a Dallas divorce attorney to help people move on in a positive fashion.
Do You Have a Marriage?
Do you have a marriage? Many people think they have a common law marriage if they have lived together at some time. This is not so.
To establish a common law marriage, you must meet three criteria:
1. You lived together. The length of time is not of substantial importance.
2. You presented yourself to others as a married couple. This takes more than once being referred to by the other party as “my old lady,” or “my husband”. Were you listed as a spouse on his insurance policy? Did you sign a joint Income Tax Return as a married couple? Have you or the spouse been referred to as a wife or husband frequently, to friends without correction or clarification?
3. You believe you are married. Why do you believe it? When did you consider yourself married? What other evidences told you that you were married? If you meet the above criteria, then maybe you are in a common law marriage.
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What has each spouse contributed to the marriage financially?
When two people marry in Texas, individual earnings becomes part of the community estate, which each party owns equally. The only exception to this is if the parties file a written agreement stating they have agreed to keep their incomes separate.
Any property acquired during the marriage, or with funds acquired during the marriage, are also presumed to be community property. On divorce, the court will divide community property between the parties if they cannot agree on a division. The standard is a “just and right division.”
What is the nature of the property to be divided?
Was it acquired during the marriage? Was it brought into the marriage? Was it received by a spouse as a gift or inheritance?
Property that was acquired during the marriage as a gift or inheritance toonespouse will be the separate property of the gifted spouse. It cannot be divided by the court on divorce unless the funds are comingled with community property.
Property brought into the marriage and not comingled with community property (such as money) will also remain the separate property of the spouse. The only way to acquire separate property during marriage is by gift or inheritance.
The interest on separate property accounts is community money unless the parties have a signed agreement to the contrary.
What are the needs of the children?
What provisions should be made concerning the custody and support for the children?
When making a decision, the court will be interested in the past actions of each parent. The amount of time each party has spent with the children, or has available to spend with the children, will be weighed heavily in the court’s decision. The support will then be set at a percentage of the paying parent’s after-tax income, considering how many children are being supported. The court will also make provisions for medical and dental expenses and insurance for the children. The court may also consider the welfare of the children in dividing the community property, such as the house.
How is each spouse able to provide for him or herself financially in the future?
The court will consider each party’s ability to live independently after divorce, which may influence the court’s division of assets. The court may consider a buyout of assets in order to make an equitable division. If one partyhas many separate property assets and the other party does not, it could influence the court’s division of community assets.The court will divide any and all retirement assets acquired during the marriage.
With these considerations and numerous others in mind, it’s important to have a fierce advocate on your side who can resolve complex issues associated with divorce and navigate all areas of family law. If you are ready to move forward, call the Dallas law firm of Nancy Gail Huggins today.
As a caring Dallas divorce lawyer, I would be pleased to help you.
Let my experience be your guide