1. Myth: Assets are always divided 50/50
Fact: Texas divorce law does not support the common belief of splitting marital assets 50/50
The State of Texas requires a “just and equitable” division of property. A 50/50 settlement is rarely appropriate and should never be implemented without expert advice, and ideally, using an analysis of the situation by a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. The division of marital assets in a divorce should take into account the need for one spouse to receive sufficient assets to provide support considering the much higher earnings of the other party.
2. Myth: There is no alimony in Texas
Fact: There is a form of alimony in Texas
Court-ordered, spousal support, what most people call alimony, is very limited in Texas. It is referred to as spousal maintenance, and a spouse must meet strict requirements to qualify. Be prepared to provide a detailed, projected post-divorce budget that demonstrates a clear monetary need if you plan to apply for spousal maintenance. And, prove that you are unable to work and earn a modest income.
However, one may be able to negotiate contractual alimony from a spouse that goes beyond what the law allows. A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst can assist in the preparation of this budget. Often the higher earning spouse receives more assets as an offset in exchange for providing alimony. There are also potential income tax advantages for the higher earning spouse that may make this arrangement especially attractive.
3. Myth: Every asset of a divorcing couple is divided equally between the spouses in a divorce
Fact: For an equitable divorce to occur, marital assets should be divided based on the unique needs of each couple’s situation
There are no specific laws that require courts to equally divide each marital asset. In fact, there are many ways to “slice and dice” marital assets in a divorce. I often tell clients that a dollar invested in a 401(k) is not equal to the value of a dollar in home equity. Funds invested in retirement plans offer the potential for growth and cannot be withdrawn before a certain age. The potential for home equity assets to grow depends largely on the marketplace and often, the economy. Also, homeownership comes with related costs of maintenance, repairs, utilities and property taxes. Each marital asset should be examined carefully in light of each recipient’s financial situation and goals. Once assets are “valued,” they are tallied for each spouse, and then divided, often with “offsets” which balance the division of assets according to each situation.
4. Myth: The assessed value put on a home by your local property tax authority is a reliable measure of its value
Fact: Divorcing couples would be wise to secure a home appraisal from a reputable, licensed professional
Your municipal property tax authority is not a reliable source in determining your home’s market value. In addition, homeowners are often pretty far off base in guesstimating the value of their own property. Especially if they have invested heavily in repairs and upgrades and expect to get this investment back when they sell. In family law cases, it is preferred that divorcing couples get property appraised by a qualified appraisal company. If the appraisal comes back and one spouse disagrees with the number, get a second appraisal from a different company and meet in the middle. If they mutually agree to do so, Couples may also get a market valuation from an experienced realtor in the neighborhood who will calculate its market value based on similar comparables in the that have recently sold in the area.
5. Myth: “I can nail him if he has a girlfriend”
Fact: Not likely, most of the time
While there seems to be an endless appetite for news stories about infidelity involving celebrities or those in positions of power, in most cases divorce courts couldn’t care less if your spouse is having an affair. This is because in states with no-fault divorce laws such as Texas – – which allow people to divorce without having to document specific reasons the marriage went south — courts aren’t looking for blame. So affairs and other disasters of the heart don’t matter. With that said, the case could be impacted on some level if the judge assigned to your divorce has strong attitudes one way or another about such things. (Although less than 10% of cases are decided by a judge). Also, if the spouse having the affair wants to keep it quiet, a larger settlement may be possible, but not probable. Now, if the offending spouse is “wasting” a significant portion of community assets on their new love and you can produce proof in the way of receipts to that effect, there are laws against such activity, but only up to recovering your share of those assets.
For more information on any of the topics above, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.