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Houston Divorce Law Blog

March is the biggest month to file for divorce

Many Houston residents are happily married with their life partners. But many other couples are involved in a relationship that is no longer loving and happy. People in these relationships will probably be thinking about divorce and whether that is the best option for their situation. For those considering divorce, March is the most popular divorce month.

Although many may think January is the month where most people file for divorce, it's actually March. There may be several reasons including the feeling of being in a longer winter and the approaching spring may make a person feel like they need to make a change. Or with tax deadlines looming a person may want to split so that they don't have to file a joint return next year. Whatever the reason, spring can bring a new outlook to a person's relationship and help them decide that divorce may be the best option.

Preparing for a divorce

Many people in the Houston area will be filing for a divorce this year. Many more will be thinking that they would like to seek out a divorce, but don't know if they're ready. There are a few things that can help a person feel more prepared to seek out a divorce.

A divorce usually centers on property and asset division. When a couple goes through the divorce process, their finances will be closely analyzed. A person who is thinking about obtaining a divorce should organize his or her financial paperwork early on in the process so that they can be prepared and avoid the time and expense necessary to obtain them later. Second, a person seeking a divorce should open a bank account in his or her own name and make sure that his or her credit rating is good. It is important to have a good credit rating so that a person's financial future is positive. When these private bank accounts are established, make sure they are properly funded. Divorce can be expensive and many different professionals may be needed, including attorneys, financial planners and psychologists. If you are going through a high asset divorce or have a complicated financial situation, these professionals can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Finally, before filing for a divorce, a person should make sure that he or she has a divorce team in place. The team may consist of a family law attorney, financial planner, therapist and other professionals, depending on your needs.

Keeping the family home after a Houston divorce

The family home is often one of the largest assets that is divided during a divorce. In a Houston divorce, property division is often complicated, and the family home can be a tricky item to negotiate. Before a spouse decides whether they want to keep the family home, there are a few things to consider.

When keeping the family home after a divorce there many considerations. First, in the case of a divorce, the spouse who is not getting the house will most likely want their name off the mortgage. That means that the house will need to be refinanced. The spouse who wants to keep the house will need to be able to meet certain requirements to qualify for a new mortgage, including debt-to-income ratio. This may be difficult as a single income earner household, especially since alimony and child support are not considered income until they have been received for at least 12 months.

Prenuptial agreements may help even happy Houston couples

A prenuptial agreement is often seen as a way to insure one's wealth against the possibility having to turn over a portion of one's assets to an ex-spouse following divorce. However, prenuptial agreements are in fact useful to a wide variety of Houston couples, including those who have the good fortune of remaining happily married.

Among other reasons, this is because a prenuptial agreement can specify certain terms that pertain to how each spouse's children will be treated in the event that one or both of the spouses die. In situations involving a first marriage, this issue can be fairly straightforward. However, with subsequent marriages the issue may become more complicated. Addressing this matter in a prenuptial agreement can help avoid conflict between a new spouse and the children by a prior marriage.

What to expect during Texas property division

Besides child support and visitation, the most contentious area of a divorce in Texas is often property division. The financial implications of dividing up the property are very important in securing each party's future. Divorce legal issues are often complicated, so it is important for people to know what to expect during the property division portion of a divorce settlement.

Texas is a community property state, but most marital estates are not divided "in half" like many people assume. The judge or mediator will divide the property based on what is "fair and right". What a person believes is fair and right is often different than what a judge will decide, however. There are some types of property that will not get divided, though, and that includes separate property obtained before marriage, inherited property, and property that was received as a gift.

How are retirement accounts handled in a TX divorce situation?

For many people the single biggest asset besides their house is their retirement account. For couples who are going through a divorce the retirement accounts that have amassed can prove to be a big, complicated issue to work through in the property division area. So how are retirement accounts distributed in a divorce?

Retirement accounts are viewed as income earned by the spouse during marriage. Contributions that are made to the retirement account while the couple is married is considered community property. Retirement assets that are accumulated before marriage are generally considered separate property and not included in the divorce settlement.

Alternatives to a traditional divorce

Houston residents who are considering a divorce or starting the divorce process may feel a huge amount of emotional stress and anxiety regarding the process. Many times a divorce is complicated and can involve many issues, including property division, child support, alimony and a host of other problems. Many people think that a divorce always includes court dates and judges, but there are alternatives to the traditional divorce proceedings.

One divorce option is the do-it-yourself divorce. This type of divorce is where the couple files their own paperwork and other necessary documentation. However, there are very few situations where this makes sense for a divorcing couple, as mistakes are often irreversible.

Business ownership can complicate the divorce process

For any number of reasons, a happy marriage can eventually end on the path to divorce. For business owners, perhaps it is due to long hours spent on the job, building a sustainable and profitable venture -- hours that, unfortunately, are lost from the relationship. Regardless of the reason, however, if you own part or all of a company, that will be part of the assets considered in property division.

There are a lot of questions that will come up at this point. What will happen to my business? Will my former spouse be a part of my company moving forward? What are my options? In such trying times, it can be invaluable to have an experienced professional there to answer questions and guide you through the process.

The importance of courtroom decorum in a high asset divorce

Going to court can be stressful for a divorcing spouse. Few people enter a marriage expecting the relationship will later become unsustainable; fewer still anticipate having to go over the details of things like property division and alimony in a courtroom. While Texas law offers ways to avoid divorce court, such as divorce mediation, these options may not work for everyone. Especially in cases of high asset divorce, going to court may be necessary to obtain a fair settlement.

Experienced legal representation can give a spouse peace of mind that their rights will be protected in the courtroom. A Houston family lawyer can walk a spouse through the different parts of a divorce proceeding and what can be expected each step of the way. A family law attorney will also typically share some helpful tips regarding proper courtroom decorum.

New Year may be appropriate time for new approach to divorce

After the frenzy of the holidays, Houston residents often want to take it easy during the month of January. The first month of the year, however, often brings its own sources of emotional stress: tax season is right around the corner, holiday bills often come due and many couples realize their marriage may not survive the coming year.

According to the president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, divorce filings tend to surge in January. Starting after the New Year and extending into early March, the number of divorce filings is often a third higher than usual. There are likely countless reasons for this, of course, but many point to the busy holiday season as one factor. Couples are understandably reluctant to part ways during the holidays, and those with children often want to give their families one final holiday season together as a family.

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

She will take the time to understand your individual needs and develop a comprehensive solution to protect your rights and interests.

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