DIVORCE – DON’T SHOOT YOUR OWN FOOT OVER BUSINESS ASSETS
If you have a spouse who owns a business, then that business is likely going to be a community property asset, regardless of whether you have ever had any involvement in either its creation or its management. Consequently, in divorce cases wherein feelings may be bruised, and emotions high, there may be a temptation to harm your spouse’s business—colloquially known as “burning down the business.” But as you now know, that business is likely to be half yours, so never harm your own property. Secondly, even if you feel that you are incapable of running your spouse’s business, you still can benefit enormously from it, post-divorce. As a going-concern, businesses are often worth several multiples of their current assets and income due to “good will,” or the tendency for customers to bring repeat business or to recommend a business to other customers. So, where you’ve got a spouse with a business, make sure that he or she stays in business. Upon division of the marital estate, that business, even if not awarded to you, may go far in determining how much of the house, the 401k, pension, or other assets are eventually granted you.
Nevertheless, if your spouse is in business, then literally THOUSANDS of dollars can be saved in a contested divorce by quietly accumulating business records and tax documents, pre-divorce, which may show what value the business truly has for your spouse. This is true because, once a contested divorce is filed, it is almost certain that your spouse is going to find inventive ways of making that business appear to be worth much less than it actually is. For your part, taking pictures of inventory on a typical day, or collecting phone records showing customer calls, all can go far in refuting your spouse’s claim that the business is “nothing more than a hobby” or that it’s a failing concern and should be shuttered.
Is There a Waiting Period Prior To Filing for Divorce?
Divorce laws vary from state to state. When you visit a family law attorney in Spring, TX, you can receive legal guidance on how Texas family laws could affect your situation. Your family law attorney will let you know what to expect before and after filing the divorce petition. Expect to be asked a few questions about your residency. A family law attorney can only file a divorce petition on your behalf if you have lived in Texas for at least six months. It isn’t necessary for both spouses to be Texas residents.
Family law attorneys must file divorce petitions in the counties in which their clients live. Counties can have additional residency requirements. If you live near The Woodlands, you should know that Montgomery County requires a residency of at least three months before a divorce petition is filed.
After a divorce petition is filed, and despite the fact that you and your spouse can quickly resolve all issues out of court, you usually must wait 60 days to finalize the divorce. Again, this waiting period begins after the attorney files the initial petition.
Why You May Need a Living Trust
If you do not yet have a living trust , consider talking to a probate attorney near The Woodlands about whether this arrangement might benefit you. When you create a living trust, you can name yourself as the trustee to remain in full control of any assets you transfer into the trust. You can use the trust to pass on assets to your heirs after your death. One main benefit of having a probate attorney establish a living trust for you is that any property that remains in the trust at the time of your death will not go through the probate process. This means that if your heirs need financial resources right away after your passing, they can have access to them without waiting for the estate to be closed.
In some cases, it is more difficult to challenge a living trust than to challenge a will. If someone challenges the validity of a living trust, he or she would need to prove that you were mentally incompetent at the time the trust created or perhaps that your signature was forged. Generally, the fact that you continued to manage the trust after you created it is sufficient proof of your mental competence. However, be aware. There are often very good reasons not to create a trust for your properties. For example, the “taxable basis” of your trust property may be different than what it would be if the property were inherited in a simple probate case, so consult with a lawer prior to creating such an instrument without proper counsel.
Refusing to Sign Divorce Papers
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses may sign a divorce decree agreeing to the terms of the divorce, such as the division of property. Alternatively, one of the spouses may simply not oppose the terms set forth by the other spouse. Nevertheless, if one spouse refuses to sign-off on a divorce decree, then the divorce becomes a “contested divorce.” Regardless of whether you expect your divorce to be uncontested or contested, you should seek divorce advice from a family law attorney in The Woodlands. Divorce lawyers will handle your case for you, letting you move forward with your new life.
Will the Refusal Halt the Divorce?
It’s a common misconception that when one spouse refuses to sign the papers, the divorce is placed on indefinite hold. In fact, one spouse cannot hold the other “hostage” in the marriage by refusing to sign the paperwork. However, it does mean that it may take longer to finalize the divorce.
What Does It Mean to Set a Case for Hearing?
When a divorce is contested because one of the spouses refuses to sign the divorce decree, then the court will resolve the contested issues at trial. Your divorce lawyers will contact the clerk or administrator of the court to set a final hearing on the case. Shortly after setting a case for final hearing, the other party must be notified in writing of the hearing date and time. While awaiting the hearing, your divorce lawyers will conduct discovery, which is the process of obtaining information to be presented in court. This includes information about the marital assets, income, and similar issues. At court, each party has the opportunity to present evidence before the judge.
Should You Try Mediation?
Before the case goes to trial, there is still time to attempt to transition a contested divorce to an amicable divorce. Some court require mediation prior to any trial of your case. Even if a court does not require mediation, you might consider enlisting the help of a professional mediator, who is a neutral third party. Mediation can often help two parties with divergent goals and viewpoints find common ground. Mediators cannot force the parties to agree to anything. If mediation fails, then the case will go to trial.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
If you’re looking for divorce advice and live in Spring, TX, a family law attorney can help you. One of the questions divorce lawyers typically ask new clients is whether it might be possible to resolve family law matters amicably instead of leaving these decisions to the judge. Your answer to this question will determine whether your divorce proceeding is contested or uncontested.
Defining Contested and Uncontested Divorces
Under Texas family law, a divorce may proceed as an uncontested divorce if you and your spouse have reached an agreement about all issues relevant to your case. Such issues include matters involving property and liability allocation, child custody arrangements, and child support. A divorce may be considered uncontested in cases in which your spouse has officially been given notice of the divorce, yet fails to file an answer with the court. In this situation, the divorce is uncontested by “default.” The most common uncontested divorce, however, is the “waiver” divorce wherein your spouse agrees to step out of the proceeding by signing a statement to that effect. A contested divorce is one that involves any substantive disagreement over any issue. Even if a couple agrees to all issues but one, the divorce will be considered contested. When a divorce is contested, a family law judge will evaluate the evidence, hear arguments, and issue a ruling.
Agreeing on the Issues
It’s often preferable for spouses to make compromises in order to reach a divorce agreement out of court. If your spouse has not hired an attorney, then consider asking your divorce lawyer if he or she would speak with your disagreeing spouse to discuss the potential for mediation. Mediation may be successful even if spouses are no longer on friendly terms with each other. It involves meeting together, but with the involvement of a neutral third-party. Each spouse will then have the opportunity to discuss his or her concerns, goals, and points of view. Spouses who are willing to compromise on one or more issues may be able to have the case resolved in a expeditious manner.
Petitioning for Modifications
A divorce decree resolves the major issues arising from the breakdown of the marriage. However, certain family law question may be modified later. For instance, where there is a substantial change in circumstances, you or your ex may petition the court for a modification in child custody arrangements. You could also file a petition to change the existing spousal support or child support order.
Tax Tips for the Newly Single
Divorce affects your finances in a number of different ways, including the way you pay your taxes. Before you decide how to file your taxes, talk to your divorce lawyer in The Woodlands to ensure you’re making the right financial decision and to avoid any complications. Oftentimes, I divorce lawyer will refer you to a certified public account for specific direction.
This video explains your options for filing taxes after you file divorce papers. If your divorce is finalized by the last day of the year, you can file as a single person. Your divorce lawyers should work out which spouse gets to claim head of household status, based on each party’s financial contribution. Child support and other post-divorce payments can figure into your tax filings as well. Your divorce lawyer can give you advice on tax filings to shield you from responsibility for your ex’s tax debts and complications caused by incorrect deduction claims.
How to Enforce a Divorce Decree
Divorce attorneys near Conroe, TX, often counsel clients about how to enforce their divorce decrees . In family law, an individual must inform the court if his or her former spouse refuses to comply with a divorce decree.
Divorce lawyers are necessary for making sure assets are divided equitably after a divorce. However, when divorce papers are filed, couples sometimes realize they have more debts than assets. A family law attorney can help in making sure you secure a fast, cheap but secure, divorce. In addition, you need divorce lawyers to make sure that you do not needlessly shoulder your spouse’s debt. If your ex will not comply with the court’s division of debts or assets, then contact your attorney right away.
How Divorce Affects Your Heirs
Family law in the Woodlands can be complex, which is why divorce lawyers are often needed to protect your rights. Only an experienced family law attorney can safely guide you through the process–from filing divorce papers to dividing marital assets. As your attorney will explain, any change in your marital status requires also changes your will. With help from a law firm that handles both family law and estate planning, you can ensure that your last will and testament accurately reflects your final wishes, and divorce does not frustrate your plans. Keep reading to learn more about how divorce could affect your heirs.
As your divorce lawyers will advise you, making the difficult decision to end your marriage also may affect how your personal property is distributed through your will. Texas provides that a divorce removes your spouse as a beneficiary of your will automatically, but your spouse’s absence may create a new urgency in redrafting your will. In the event of serious illness or an accident, a thorough redraft will provide you needed comfort in knowing that your will and living will are enforceable and conform to your wishes. However, if you do not make necessary alterations to your wills (and trusts), then your heirs may not be able to collect the money you intended to award them. To ensure that your wishes are honored, have your family attorney or probate lawyer review your first will and then create a new document.
Wills and trusts can certainly become more complicated after a divorce. For example, irrevocable living trusts cannot be changed, regardless of when or how your marriage ends. An irrevocable living trust involves having all assets transferred and signed over to a trustee, who retains sole control for the benefit of others. If you have already created an irrevocable living trust for one or more of your children, then neither you nor your former spouse may change the arrangement. In many cases, that means that your heirs’ inheritance will be protected.
Divorce can affect inheritances distributed through revocable trusts. Revocable trusts mean that a couple still has control over all assets in the trust. Therefore, you or your spouse can theoretically amend the trust, dissolve the trust, or remove all assets at any time. However, if you and your ex-opt to dissolve the trust, all assets need to be addressed in your divorce decree.
How Pets Can Become An Important Issue During a Divorce
Divorce attorneys near Spring, TX regularly give their clients advice on both child custody and pet custody. In family law, pets are treated as property when a couple makes the decision to divorce.
As divorce lawyers know, couples can have a difficult time determining which partner retains custody of a pet, or perhaps how a pet is to be cared for following separation. After you make the emotional decision to divorce—and select your divorce attorneys from a family law firm—the last thing you want is to give up the love and comfort that a pet provides. Cats and dogs offer unconditional friendship and never let their owners down. If you are considering divorce and want to keep your beloved pet, seek legal advice from an experienced family lawyer.
Navigating the Contested Divorce Process
Once you have made the difficult decision to end your marriage , your first step should be to consult with divorce lawyers serving Spring, TX. Only divorce lawyers who are experienced in family law and know the family court system sufficiently well can make sure your rights are protected throughout the process. Over the course of a marriage, many people have children and also may have accumulated significant assets. Such matters can lead to disagreements over money, child support, and child custody. Continue reading to learn more about the steps involved in a contested divorce, including meeting with your attorney, filing the divorce petition, and negotiating the terms of the split.
Divorce lawyers advise seeking legal advice immediately after making the decision to end a marriage. After you have selected a family law firm, your attorney will sit down with you to go over the facts of your case. During this meeting, your divorce lawyer will interview you thoroughly and review documents pertaining to marital assets and children of the marriage. He or she will then advise you of what you are fairly entitled to, including child support and property rights.
Filing divorce papers, or a “petition,” is the next step in a contested divorce. Your divorce attorney will serve the petition for divorce on your spouse, who will then be given a certain time period to respond. If your spouse does not respond to the petition for divorce within 20 days plus the following Monday, he or she is in default and you may obtain a judgment of divorce without your spouse’s imput. If your former spouse does respond, the case proceeds to discovery and trial, or settlement.
During discovery, your divorce lawyers will ask your spouse’s attorneys for detailed information regarding his or her income and child care. After both sides have the requested paperwork, their divorce attorneys generally meet and attempt to come to an agreement, or settlement, before the final court date. If spouses cannot agree to divorce terms, a trial is scheduled.
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