Those filing for divorce reconcile legal issues and emotional issues. Many argue that emotional issues are much more prevalent than legal matters, but each marriage and divorce is different. One could argue that the filing process will take a few months or a year, but the emotional process of exiting the marriage can last longer. Nevertheless, how you address these legal issues can impact your financial circumstances and family life for years or even decades.
3 major legal issues
There are three major legal issues that nearly every divorce must address. These are:
- Division of assets and debts: Texas is a community property state, which means that the couple divides their shared community assets in half. They keep separate or personal property they either brought to the marriage or received through means that do not make them community property, such as inheritance, but must bear the burden of proof when tracing separate property in order to overcome the community property presumption. Assets include such tangibles as the house and furniture, but also include bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance, and other things of value. Couples also split their community debt, including mortgages, student loans and credit card debt.
- Parenting plan: It is standard for coparents to share custody of the children even if the kids spend more time with one parent. Still, creating a realistic and workable parenting plan to determine who does what, and where the children stay on a daily and weekly basis takes much planning. It also involves dividing holidays, vacations, summers, family events, and other occasions. There may also be decisions involving college plans, health decisions and even how and when to present new partners to the family.
- Support: There may be child support and spousal maintenance (traditionally known as alimony) considerations as well. There is a standard formula that courts and couples use to determine the appropriate amount of child support. It uses net income, the number of kids, and other factors unique to the family. Spousal maintenance often considers the length of the marriage, the employment history of each spouse, the age of the children, and other factors such as earning capacity and abilities of each spouse.
Getting legal help is crucial
Regardless of whether the couple chooses to mediate, negotiate, or go to court, each spouse should consult with an experienced, Board-Certified Family Law expert attorney practicing here in Texas. These professionals can help protect their clients’ personal and parental rights and work towards fair and equitable solutions to all legal issues.