Each year hundreds of thousands of Texans are shaken by the realities of divorce. That’s men, women, children. At Davis, Ermis & Roberts, PC, we do our best to ease the process and transition our clients onto a path of restoration.
But in order to do that, we want to make sure you understand what lies ahead as well as how you can best deal with it.
Divorce vs. Legal Separation
In Texas, legal separation doesn’t exist. Your legal status as a married couple will not change even if you move away from each other. As a result, your rights and assets will not be protected unless you close the book on your marriage once and for all.
To do that, you’ll need to address the various factors at stake when you decide to file for divorce. But before getting to that, you need to engage in pre-divorce planning. Here are some questions to ask yourself before going any further?
- What’s the source of the desire to divorce?
- What is your relationship like now?
- What do you envision for your life after the divorce is final?
- Where do you plan to live and work?
- When will you file?
- How will you break it to your spouse? Your kids?
These are not easy questions to answer. But you absolutely must try before going any further, at least if you hope to minimize damage and protect your assets. In fact, your pre-divorce planning will largely make the difference between an amicable breakup and a bitter split. Once you’ve done the planning, there are other challenges to consider.
The 4 Most Common Divorce Obstacles
Spouses fight over a lot of things when it comes to getting a divorce, but each of those things pretty much breaks down into four categories.
- Children: If you’re parents, this will probably be the biggest sticking point. There’s a common misconception that courts “favor” women when it comes to child custody, but much of that evidence is anecdotal. The reality is the court acts in the best interest of the child whether that means Mom has custody and Dad pays the child support or vice versa. Courts definitely want viable parents to share in the raising of the child, even if the child lives with the custodial parent for the majority of the time. Your challenge — and this carries over from the pre-planning — is to decide first whether you want full or majority custody and second how you are best-equipped to provide for their emotional and financial needs. Admittedly this is an oversimplification as every family is different. But it’s where many of the custody battles are won or lost.
- Property: Who gets to keep the house? The cars? The family heirlooms? Couples often fight over the property when getting a divorce because there often is sentimental as well as monetary value attached. In particularly bitter divorces, it’s not uncommon to see one spouse “act out” and ask for an heirloom they care nothing about only because it means so much to their soon-to-be ex. As you plan your strategy, make a list of the items that are “must-haves” and those you could easily live without. Doing so will keep you more focused on the businesslike demeanor every divorce needs to be successful and less on the emotional aspects that lead to outburst and escalation.
- Money and retirement: Money is one of the biggest issues that people in a marriage fight about, so it should come as no surprise to learn that it factors in heavily to the proceedings when a marriage breaks up. If it was as easy as splitting up liquid assets, a court could do this for you no questions asked. But marriages are usually filled with complications like 401k plans, IRAs, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, home equity, credit card debts, child support, alimony, and more. Dividing these assets can have serious tax implications that prove to be a burden on both parties. And if one spouse is going to be worse off due to their work experience and marketability, it can really get messy.
- Relocation: This is a major issue when you have children. In a divorce between two normal people, both parents will want to stay as involved as they can. That means relocating to “start over” in a fresh place with a fresh cast of characters, so to speak, can prove impossible. Suddenly, your most precious relationship — the one you have with your kid — becomes a millstone that makes it hard to leave a place that may be causing you great pain. It’s a tough situation to be in, and no one wants to feel that way. But it’s also something to consider before deciding to file for divorce.
Acing the Settlement
In order to ace your divorce settlement, you need an experienced attorney who can guide you through each of these difficult issues in a way that minimizes conflict and helps you to deal with the unavoidable factors. Davis, Ermis & Roberts, P.C., has many years of experience helping people like you do just that! Contact us today to learn how we can help you survive and thrive during and after your divorce.