What should people do if their co-parent works in a field that might expose them to COVID-19?
Regardless of the shelter in place order for their county, the Texas Supreme Court has issued guidance- parents should be following the court order that is in place regarding possession and access to the children. Exchanges should occur as normal, and should be considered essential activities.
If there3 are any issues about possible parental exposure to COVID-19, the parents should discuss the issue and try to come to a scheduling agreement, making up time later if possible.
if parents have specific questions, please call one of our attorneys to assist.
Are pets considered property?
Yes and no. We make provisions for pets in decrees, but not like children. The parties can make agreements regarding pets.
What advice do you have for people who might be considering divorce?
If a person feels that divorce is on the horizon, they would be wise to start gathering financial information. Acct #s, an understanding of what you have in your accounts, retirement savings, what both you and your spouse own. You want to have an understanding as much as possible of your marital estate.
The property side of divorce is very broad – it includes the big things like our homes to the little things within, our bank and retirement accounts, property rights, assets and debts.
It is important to realize that the resources that were once used to pay for your living together in one home will now need to be used to pay for 2 separate homes, two sets of attorneys fees, and various other expenses.
Community Property vs Separate Property
When a couple gets divorced, the court presumes that everything the parties own at the time of the divorce is community property. The burden is on the individual to prove to the court that something is separate property (gifts, inheritance, assets prior to marriage). Again, it is very important to access your records and get all documentation organized- with inventory of assets/debts, account #s, vin #s on cars, etc.
The more you and your spouse can cooperate on exchanging that information, the less you will spend on attorneys fees.
Once you have a big picture of assets/debts, you see what the net value of the estate looks like so you can figure out a reasonable split. Not all assets are equal, so it is a good idea to get legal guidance to navigate through the values. Clients need to understand what their finances will look like post-divorce, as they agree to take on various assets or debts.
What restrictions might be placed on money so one party cant take the money and run?
Set up an account with just your name on it to deposit your earnings in.
Most counties have what is called a standing order, which tells you what you can and can’t do with community funds during the divorce.
What about the role of financial professionals in divorce, and what are the qualities of a good one?
People with complex property estates especially benefit from a good financial professional.
In situations where a couple is divorcing at an older age, having someone to help manage or invest their money accordingly is advisable. We have people who we can recommend.
Any pitfalls, what not to do’s…?
Don’t empty the entire account of money.
Some people are so angry or hurt by the end of a relationship that they do bad things out of spite. The courts expect people to be respectful to their spouse.
To the extent that someone is going out and spending large sums on a girlfriend for example, the courts will not look favorably on this in the final trial. There are ways that we can address this along the way as well.
Many people underestimate the value of their assets, which costs them more later. Best to be in the capable hands of an attorney on the front end, rather than after the divorce, to protect themselves.
The better you can get through the divorce process, working WITH your spouse, the better things end up on the other side.
-Jodi Bender, Duffee + Eitzen