For everything there is a season… even divorce. Statistics show the season of uncoupling begins about the time you take that last sip of Cold Duck on Valentine’s and ends when your pansies swoon in the heat of late spring.
Googling online divorce help is like riding your bike without a helmet or buying your Louie Vuitton bag out of a station wagon – – you get what you get. But what if there were a few guideposts you could follow on your journey, so you don’t end up off the trail, lost without a map.
Know these seven divorce hacks and you’ll save time and money, or at lest you’ll make better decisions about how to spend your time and money.
- Divorce makes you poorer, not richer. Do the math – splitting a two-income household means the same resources must finance two homes. Look at your budget and trim the fat. If you know you can’t afford to stay in the family home, sell it now before disaster strikes. Also, Texas does not have “alimony.” We have something called “spousal maintenance” which is limited and awarded in rare situations.
- There really is no such thing as “community debt.” If you took out that credit card or financed a car in your name, you are contractually obligated to pay no matter what your divorce decree says. Don’t fight for terms in your divorce decree that don’t give you protection from creditors.
- A fair and equitable property division isn’t always 50-50. Courts will consider certain economic disparities in ordering an unequal property division but expect your case to be close to an even split of assets. Anything more lopsided than a 55-45 property division is very rare. Finally, don’t waste your time proving adultery or cruelty – – it won’t get you more money.
- We all get a trophy – it’s called Joint Conservatorship. It’s the finishers medal of family law and even the most worthless parent gets the JMC trophy at the courthouse. Of course, there’s still a dungeon for abusers, addicts, and those diagnosed as mentally ill, but courthouse wisdom says children need both parents. Helpful hint: focus on the specific terms of the joint conservatorship, not the label.
- You can’t take the kids and go back home. If you’re from another state, or even from elsewhere in Texas, and your marriage just happened to break-down in the metroplex, you and your kids will be stuck here. Courts uniformly limit the residence of the children to Tarrant and contiguous counties so both parents can meaningfully participate in their children’s lives. Fighting the so-called “geographic restriction” is against long odds and will cost you money.
- You can’t get out of paying child support. I know what you’re going to say…” I want 50-50 custody and I’m not paying support.” This line of thinking is way more popular online and in barber shops than it is at the courthouse. Texas custody law needs a major rework, but until that happens, things will continue pretty much the same. Expect to get the Standard Possession Order (don’t forget to ask for the expanded version!) and plan on paying guideline child support.
- Where do you want to be in a year? This is my best cost-saving advice. Being in the middle of a divorce is physically and emotionally exhausting and it’s hard to put things in perspective. Get to a quiet place in your head and really envision the life you want in a year. You’ll soon be able to separate what’s truly important to you from the trivial. Fight for the things worth fighting for and let the rest go.
Gregory L. Housewirth is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist practicing in Fort Worth, Texas. With 30 years’ family law law experience, Mr. Housewirth has represented hundreds of clients in divorce, custody, CPS, modification, and grandparent cases. In addition, Mr. Housewirth is a qualified family law mediator and a member of Collaborative Law Texas, a practice group dedicating to promoting collaborative divorce in Texas.