What Important Questions Do You Have About the Divorce Process?
Clients generally ask ten questions: what will my divorce cost, do I specialize in family law, how does child support work, do they qualify for spousal support, who gets custody, how property is divided, how long it takes, who gets the house, do they have to go to court, and what is a collaborative divorce?
1. What Will It Cost?
All clients want to know about cost. I tell my clients cost depends on how they handle the divorce. If they fight about everything, their divorce can cost a lot, but if they cooperate and are reasonable, the cost is much lower. Costs range from $3,000 to $50,000, depending on the complexity of the case and how much clients fight.
2. Do I Specialize in Family Law?
It’s important to know if your attorney practices several types of law or specializes in divorces. Family law is complex and clients should hire an attorney who knows about family law. This is especially true if you opt for a collaborative divorce.
3. How Does Child Support Work?
Child Support is calculated by multiplying a parent’s net monthly income by percentages based on the number of children involved: 1 = 20%; 2 = 25%, 3 = 30%; 4 = 35%, 5 = 40%. Generally, the parent who has custody of the children collects payments from the parent who visits the children on a regular basis.
4. What’s Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance is generally awarded in cases of family violence, disability of a spouse or child, and for marriages of more than ten years. Maintenance is intended to support a spouse while he or she finishes schooling or acquires work skills. The maximum monthly spousal maintenance is $5,000 or 20% of the paying spouse’s gross monthly income, whichever is less. Contractual alimony may be agreed by the spouses for any amount and period.
5. Who Gets Custody?
Joint Custody is preferred in Texas, but courts will order sole custody to one parent if that’s in the children’s best interest. One parent generally has possession of the children while the other parent receives visitations. Standard visitation includes seeing children on the first, third and fifth week ends of each month, having dinner Wednesday or Thursday, visits during holidays and an extended possession period during the summer. Shared custody can be negotiated through a collaborative divorce.
6. How Is Property Divided?
All assets owned at the time of divorce are presumed to be community property unless one spouse can show an asset was owned prior to marriage or acquired by gift or inheritance during marriage, then it’s separate property. Community property is divided between the spouses in an equitable manner while separate property is awarded to the spouse who owns it. Property becomes community or separate at the time it’s acquired.
7. How Long Will It Take?
Your divorce can be finished in 60 days or it may take over a year if there are complicated issues, discovery fights, and the case is tried before a judge or jury. Most divorces take three to six months to settle because it’s important to collect all financial and personal information to resolve the case.
8. Who Gets the House?
Parents need to decide who will stay in the house during the divorce. Usually, the parent who has custody of the children stays in the family home while the other parent moves out. Both parties need to decide whether one of them wants to keep the house or if they should sell and divide the proceeds. If the parties decide to sell the home, it’s important to be clear about how the selling price will be set.
9. Do I Have to Go to Court?
It depends on whether you and your spouse can be reasonable, compromise your differences, and settle your case or whether you dig in, fight for every advantage, and need a judge or jury to resolve your dispute. Most cases settle outside the court house through mediation or the collaborative process which can save you time, money, and stress. If you want to get back at your spouse by going to court, expect to spend more time and money fighting.
10. How Does Collaborative Divorce Work?
A collaborative divorce offers many benefits, including privacy, lower cost, transparency, client control, convenience, preserving family relationships, protecting children, allowing creative settlement solutions and minimizing post-divorce conflicts. Most people find these benefits compelling so you should seriously consider a collaborative divorce rather than litigation if you are untying the knot. You and your children will be much better off and it won’t cost as much as a litigated divorce.