Going through a divorce can be a difficult process. You can expect to experience a roller-coaster series of emotions, and not having all the information or understanding the law can lead to additional financial stress and strain. And, if you and your spouse have acquired a substantial marital estate, a high asset divorce can be more complex as there are more assets to characterize, value and divide. As with any personal or financial problem that confronts you, having the knowledge and right tools can help you tackle your marital problems more efficiently and effectively.
Characterizing Your Assets
One of the first steps in any divorce is characterizing or determining whether the assets that make up an estate are community, separate, or mixed. Texas is a community property state which means all property that is acquired or created during the marriage by either spouse is presumed to be community, with each spouse sharing an undivided one-half interest in the property. Separate property is property that is not acquired or created during the marriage and is owned individually by each spouse. The community-property presumption can be rebutted by a few methods including inception of title and tracing, and agreements. Consult with your family law attorney if you want to prove an asset is separate property and not subject to equal division.
Understanding Your Finances
The first step in dividing and confirming a spouses’ marital property is to discover all assets and liabilities. Financial assets can include cash and accounts with financial institution, accounts receivable, retirement accounts, life insurance and annuities, and many more. The list of liabilities is also quite exhaustive. High-asset marital estates typically maintain a complex financial structure and are typically document intensive. If you think you may be headed for a divorce, you can start to locate these important financial documents and preserve them. This will save you time and resources down the road.
Developing A Plan
Most people do not plan on getting divorced. There are some, however, who plan ahead and execute pre-marital agreements before marriage as a way of giving the prospective spouses the ability to alter their marital property rights. If you and your spouse executed a premarital agreement, it will be necessary to maintain or obtain a copy of it when you speak with a family law attorney. If you do not have a premarital agreement, but believe your marriage may be in jeopardy, consult with a family law attorney to learn about your rights and obligations, child-related issues, maintaining a well-balanced emotional approach to ensure you are making well thought out decisions and not emotional ones, and mapping out a plan that allows you a fresh start, personally and financially. This approach applies whether you are the income earner in the family, or the non-earning spouse.