Divorce is difficult. It can trigger all sorts of unsettling, uncomfortable and frightening feelings, such as depression, anger, denial, bargaining, and acceptance. Educating yourself with some of the basic principles of family law may help alleviate some of these emotions and help you navigate through the divorce process.
1. How long does a divorce take?
The soonest parties can be divorced in Texas is 60 days after the suit was first filed. The length of time to complete a divorce depends, however, on whether both parties are reasonable, looking at things objectively and unemotionally, and settlement minded. If so, a divorce can go smoothly and efficiently during these 60 days. On the other hand, if one of the parties is not reasonable, or settlement minded, the process can take a lot longer, require more attorney involvement and be more costly.
At Brophy & Devaney, our goal is to handle your divorce as efficiently as possible. When factors interfere with the process, our experienced attorneys are prepared to litigate the issues and proceed to trial, if needed.
2. How much does a divorce cost?
As with most other legal matters, it is difficult to estimate how much a divorce will cost. In a divorce involving contested matters, fees can grow quickly and exceed one’s expectations. The amount of time necessary to complete a divorce can be substantially influenced by the level and type of resistance encountered from the opposing party or counsel. This also happens when cases evolve as the facts are developed.
For these reasons, it is always difficult to estimate fees. We understand the client may need fee estimates and budgets and, at Brophy & Devaney, we are available to meet and talk to the client regarding his/her matter, how it is progressing, and the estimated fees associated with the work to be performed.
3. How are property and assets divided?
Texas is a “community property” state which means that property and assets possessed by either spouse during the marriage, or at the time of divorce, are presumed to be owned by the “community.” Property is considered a spouse’s “separate property” if the property was (1) owned or claimed by the spouse prior to the marriage; (2) acquired by one spouse during the marriage by gift, devise, or descent (such as inheritance); and (3) a recovery for personal injuries sustained by one spouse during the marriage (except for recovery for loss of earning capacity during the marriage).
When it comes to a court ordered division of assets in a divorce, the value of the community estate will be quantified, which is typically based upon the fair market value of each community asset, and then divided. If the parties are able to work out an amicable division of assets, this typically results in a fair, equitable and more efficient process.
4. Am I still bound by Texas’s community property laws if I acquired property in another state?
Yes. If property would have been considered community property in Texas, it will be treated as community property in a divorce in Texas, regardless of whether it was acquired in another state.
5. How is a spouse-owned business handled?
The way that a business is handled in a divorce often depends on the type of business entity involved.
In a sole proprietorship, assets used in the business’s operation, as well as earning from the sole proprietorship, are presumed to be community property which are divisible upon divorce. Ownership interests in a corporation which are acquired during the marriage will depend on the source of consideration paid for stock shares in the corporation. For example, ownership in a corporation may be considered community property if it was capitalized with community funds. Also, even if stock shares are considered one spouse’s separate property, some of their value could still become part of the community estate through reimbursement. Although partnership property is generally owned by the partnership itself and not by the individual partners, a partner’s interest (like the right to receive a share of profits) remains subject to potential community property characterization.
6. How do I know if I have selected the right attorney?
As with any professional service provider, do your homework before selecting an attorney. Most attorneys will offer a consultation to determine if the two of you are a good fit: are we able to communicate, will the attorney try to resolve my case efficiently, and if we can’t work things out is the attoreny experienced in the courtroom.
The attorneys at Brophy & Devaney have over 60 years of combined experience evaluating cases, navigating settlements, and litigating those matters that could not be resolved outside of the courtroom. Our experience handling complex civil and business litigation and family law matters provides us a unique approach to divorce and family law matters.