A divorce lawyer does more than advocate on your behalf. They help guide you into the next phase of life by offering professional advice and diffusing tensions between you and your spouse. And in Sugar Land, TX, where intricate laws require a skilled hand, lawyers also negotiate to best effect. You can help this process by preparing to discuss a variety of different topics.
Preparing for Court: 7 Topics You’ll Need to Discuss with Your Divorce Lawyer
1. Property and Finance
Marital property refers to any property acquired during the marriage. Examples include but are not limited to household furnishings, jewelry, furniture, cars, and homes.
Texas is a common law property state, meaning property acquired during the marriage is generally divided equally between both spouses, regardless of whose name is one the deed or title. This can include separate property mixed with community property in such a way that individual ownership can no longer be determined.
Property Division Presents a Murky Division
Even with these guidelines in place, property division is not necessarily cut and dry. For instance, if one spouse invests non-marital funds or personal time into a property and its value increases, that spouse may have a claim to a portion of the value increase. Alternatively, that spouse may be entitled to reimbursement for their financial contribution.
It’s ideal to have documents in hand when you meet with your divorce lawyer, such as a list of all marital property and the approximate date it was acquired. Copies of deeds and/or titles can be equally helpful.
2. Child Custody in Sugar Land, TX
This is arguably the most hotly contested issue that will arise in your divorce, even more so than dividing your Sugar Land, TX, property. Courts in the state of Texas divide child custody matters into two distinct categories: conservatorship and possession and access. The former refers to the parent’s rights and duties – such as decisions that must be made regarding medical care, schooling, and housing.
Conservatorship can be determined so that one parent makes all the decisions or both parents work together and make decisions jointly. The court bases conservatorship on what is in the best interest of the child, a phrase that considers many factors like:
- The child’s relationship with both parents
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- Stability of the home environment
- The employment responsibilities of each parent
Possession and Access
This identifies when each parent has physical custody of a child and/or when visitation is permissible. Texas maintains two schedules for custody and access: standard and extended standard. But parents can choose to follow different schedules based on their individual needs. The court can also provide a different schedule to reflect the child’s best interests.
3. Child Support
In Texas, a parent is ordered to pay child support based on the court’s determination of what is best for the child. The amount of support is also calculated by statutory guidelines.
It’s important to know Texas does not recognize a relationship between child support and visitation, meaning a parent cannot refuse to allow visitation if child support is not paid. The court considers only the amount of possession and access to a child when calculating support payments.
4. Spousal Support
Spousal support – or spousal maintenance, as it’s known in Texas – is decided on a per case basis. A spouse may receive maintenance if the other spouse has been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for an offense of family violence. This offense must occur while the divorce is pending or within two years of the divorce filing; the marriage duration is irrelevant.
Maintenance may also be awarded if the marriage lasted for at least 10 years and the spouse seeking support lacks sufficient income or property to reasonably provide for their needs and meets one of these three requisites:
- Is unable to provide for their minimum needs
- Serves as the caretaker of a disabled child
- Is disabled
Maintenance may also be granted if both parties agree the payments are to be made over a certain period of time. Finally, if a spouse is a sponsored immigrant, they can request maintenance until they become a U.S. citizen or have established a work history.
5. The History of Your Marriage
It’s helpful to provide your divorce lawyer with a written history that highlights the most crucial facts of your marriage. Items to write down include:
- How you met your spouse
- When you married
- Your education
- Where you work
- Names and ages of your children
- Critical events in the marriage
- The most likely reason for the divorce
- Who wants the divorce
You can organize this information chronologically so it’s easy to digest. Also disclose sensitive information, such as suspicions that your spouse is having an affair or if you’ve endured any abuse during the marriage. It can be hard to discuss matters like these, but doing so will help your attorney prepare to speak about them, if necessary, during the course of your divorce. These items may impact your rights and the outcome of your divorce.
6. Your Goals for Divorce
Don’t be afraid to share your divorce goals with your lawyer in Sugar Land, TX. To illustrate, if you really want to keep the house, your lawyer needs to know so they can develop the appropriate litigation or negotiation strategy. But if you don’t care about the house, leaving it to your spouse can be used as a powerful bargaining chip during negotiations. The more your lawyer understands what’s important to you, the better your representation will be.
7. Crucial Financial Documents
Just as you need to make a list of assets and a chronological timeline of your divorce, it’s equally important to bring financial documents when meeting with your attorney. These will facilitate property division in your divorce, and those to bring during your meeting include:
- Credit card statements
- Bank statements
- Investment account information
- Retirement account statements
It doesn’t matter if one of these accounts is only in your name or that of your spouse. Simply gather as much of this information as you can for your lawyer’s reference.
Divorce marks the closing of one door and the opening of another. Partnering with an experienced team of compassionate lawyers can ease the process, protect your rights, and deliver much-needed peace of mind. We will fight for what’s best for you and your family, regardless of your case complexity. Schedule your consultation today by calling Skillern Law, PLLC.