How Easy is it to Get a Divorce in Texas if Both Parties are in Agreement?
Sometimes people come to me wanting to get a divorce where they think they are already agreed. Couples don’t necessarily know the consequences of their agreements and how they could affect their futures. Here are some issues you should consider when you are seeking an agreed divorce.
Problem 1: Do you have Children?
If there are children involved, who is going to have primary custody, what is going to be the visitation schedule, who is going to make decisions regarding the children’s physical and mental health, education, and religious upbringing? Have you truly thought through what could lead to disagreements in these areas and how they will be resolved? Once the other parent gets a boyfriend or girlfriend, attitudes in these areas are likely to change.
What is child support going to be? Do you have proof of income to determine the amount based on your state’s guidelines? Is the obligor going to pay guidelines child support? Is the reason the obligor paying under guidelines because it is honestly in the best interest of the child, or is it in the best interest of the obligor?
Have you come into an agreement on all of these issues because you are putting the convenience of an agreement above the best interest of the children? How can you be sure? Have you had a neutral third party evaluate and confirm that your decisions are in the best interest of the children?
Problem 2: Do you have a home or other assets?
Will the parties sell the home or let one keep it? If one party is going to keep it, are both going to stay on the mortgage and title? How are you going to ensure that the party out of possession’s credit and interest in avoiding waste are protected? Have you talked to a divorce lender about an equity buy-out? For example, you should know how to pre-qualify and what language needs to go into the divorce decree to protect everyone’s interests.
Do you have any other assets? Do you have bank accounts, brokerage accounts, bonds, life insurance, or any other financial assets? Are you sure know about all of the financial assets of both spouses? What if you find out later divorce that an asset has not been disclosed?
Do you have any retirement accounts? Have you accounted for the value of your retirement assets? Is there enough other property to divide with enough value to avoid splitting the retirement accounts? If not, do you have language for the decree and QDROs to ensure that the division complies with ERISA and the specific requirements of the plan administrators?
Problem 3: Do you have any personal property, collectibles, motor vehicles, etc.?
Have you created sworn inventories of all of the property and how much it is worth? Are you in agreement over how much everything is worth? Have divided the property evenly and added up all of the agreed values to determine if it is a fair division. Are you sure all property has been accounted for?
Is there any separate property? Has one party used community funds to improve or maintain separate property? Are there community assets that one party has used separate property funds towards the purchase, improvement or maintenance of? Does it matter?
Problem 4: Do you have any debts?
Does either party have any debts that the other will still be liable for after the divorce is finalized? Have you talked to a credit management expert to make sure your credit is protected during and after your divorce?
What are you going to do about tax liability? Who was responsible for filing tax returns during the marriage? What if they were under or over-paid? Will the IRS be coming after you if your spouse took deductions that are later disqualified?
Problem 5: How will you live after your divorce?
Have you talked to a financial planner to determine how to reach your financial goals after divorce? Is it better to take a big cash payout, an interest in the retirement account, or spousal maintenance secured with a lien? Do you want to go back to school, save for your children’s college, or retire? Do you know how exactly how you can accomplish any of the things you want?
Divorce is extremely traumatic.
Agreement doesn’t make the divorce less traumatic, it just reallocates the trauma–either in a way that either one party bears the brunt of it or in a way that is fair. Getting an agreed divorce that works best for you and your goals is extremely difficult unless you have no children and no community property.
You are getting a divorce for some reason. You are going to have competing interests with the person you are divorcing. It can be extremely easy for one side in an agreed divorce if the other side rolls over. That doesn’t reduce the difficulty it only pushes it all onto the loser. A fair divorce is hard, but very doable by agreement.
If you get along well enough to work out an agreed divorce, consider deciding not to get divorced. Sometimes you can’t avoid it because of abuse, infidelity, or other serious issues. However, if it’s a difficult decision, decide not to. Once you make a decision, your subconscious can start working on ways to make things work.