Do You Need a Lawyer for a Divorce?
Concerns about the cost of a divorce often prompt people to question whether they need to hire a divorce lawyer to go through the legal process of dissolving their marriage. It is true that sometimes people can file a divorce in Texas without legal help. If you and your spouse have little or no marital assets, and you don’t have children, you might be able to muddle through the divorce process on your own.
However, the vast majority of couples have at least one issue that warrants hiring a divorce attorney. Although you might not need a family dispute lawyer for your divorce, it’s ALWAYS in your best interest to consult with a divorce attorney if you want to file papers or if your spouse has filed. Our family dispute lawyers are the best in Houston and can evaluate your situation and let you know specifically how they can help you.
In many divorce situations, individuals who do not hire a lawyer risk one or more of the following:
- Losing assets
- Paying unreasonable spousal maintenance
- Not receiving spousal support they deserve
- Losing custody of a child/children
- Damaging a business reputation
Even if you and your spouse seem to agree on the big things, it’s likely you have still overlooked potentially contentious issues involved with the smaller details of your divorce. You need a family dispute lawyer, especially in Houston, to ensure you receive fair treatment and protect your rights. In case you aren’t yet convinced about the benefits of hiring a good divorce lawyer, keep reading to learn about times when you absolutely need a divorce and specific ways a family dispute attorney can help you with your divorce in Houston.
You Need a Lawyer to File a Fault-based Divorce in Texas
Texas is one of several states that allow married people to choose between a fault or no-fault divorce. Many couples chose no-fault divorces because they are often more simple, quicker, and less costly. Yet, certain situations warrant a spouse filing for a fault divorce. The major difference between the two types of divorce is that the person who files a fault divorce must do so on certain grounds, and they must justify those grounds.
Courts do not benefit from forcing a couple to remain married, but Texas judges have the power to determine other outcomes. No-fault divorces typically default to an equal division of assets and joint custody if children are involved. In a fault divorce, judges are more likely to adjust the division of assets, order different conservator arrangements, and make other changes based on the grounds of the fault divorce.
Under Texas law, grounds for a fault divorce include:
- Criminal Felony Conviction
In each of these situations, you must provide clear and convincing evidence to the court to prove your grounds for divorce. Sometimes the time, money, and energy required to gather the appropriate evidence cost more than hiring a lawyer to help. Our experienced family dispute lawyers in Houston know the information you need to provide clear and convincing evidence for the court to grant your fault divorce. Divorce attorneys have professional networks and in-house resources that include an investigator, junior associates, paralegals, and others who will play their part to gather the proof you need for the judge in a fault divorce case.
Divorce Lawyers Serve as an Objective Third Party
Even the most amicable situations can quickly turn sideways during the divorce process. When a spouse doesn’t compromise, it can be frustrating beyond words. In some situations, a spouse has taken actions that sadden or anger the other, leading to a strong desire to get revenge. Sometimes, the act of filing for divorce is hurtful if it seemingly came out of nowhere. Regardless of the exact situation, divorce stirs up feelings, emotions and sometimes creates wounds or brings past wounds to light.
It’s often difficult for the most relaxed and logical people to maintain objectivity during the divorce process. When you hire a divorce lawyer, you have someone in your corner that is fighting for you. Divorce lawyers aren’t emotionally connected to your spouse, so they also serve as a voice of reason and a layer of protection for costly or harmful choices you might otherwise make on your own as you go through a divorce. Your divorce attorney has a legal obligation to act in your best interests, which sometimes includes protecting you from yourself to ultimately ensure you get the best outcome for a difficult situation.
For example, some spouses think an impending divorce justifies spying on their spouse, checking their email, searching their file cabinet, etc. Yet, this type of evidence is typically inadmissible in court because it’s likely your spouse did not permit you to go through their private things. A divorce attorney knows how to get the information they need to build your case and make sure they can use the evidence in court.
Divorce Lawyers Help Victims of Domestic Violence
If you have suffered abuse during your marriage and fear for your personal safety or the safety of your children, a divorce lawyer in Houston can help you file for a Texas divorce on the grounds of cruelty. If you choose to file for divorce, the biggest challenge is often moving out of your home. It’s not uncommon for spouses to stalk or chase after a partner who attempts to leave. Sometimes domestic abuse victims worry about escalating violence by leaving. You will likely need to move someplace where your spouse cannot locate you. Your lawyer will be your contact point, and he or she can also file for a restraining order against your spouse, making it illegal for your abuse to contact you or come near you. If you have children, your attorney can file a restraining order ahead of time, so your spouse cannot accuse you of kidnapping if you take your kids with you.
Divorce Lawyers Help Protect Your Assets
The division of marital assets can be a highly contentious part of any divorce. Texas is a community property state, and courts presume all marital assets are community property to be equally divided unless you or your spouse claim otherwise. Regardless of which side you are on, your divorce attorney can help protect your assets or ensure you get your fair share. If you choose not to hire legal counsel for your divorce, you risk losing assets to which you are entitled.
You or your spouse must provide evidence that an asset is a separate property for a judge to stray from the Texas community property presumption. If your spouse tries to claim a particular asset is separate when it really shouldn’t be, your attorney can help provide evidence to ensure you get your share of the asset. For financial assets, this means you get half. In other cases, the court might order the sale of an asset, so you and your spouse can split the proceeds. Your divorce lawyer can also help you prove an asset is separate and that your soon-to-be-ex is not entitled to any part of it.
Unfortunately, some spouses do not play fair, and they hide assets, especially high-value assets. Sometimes this deception begins early on in a marriage, and other times a partner takes the time to tuck away assets in preparation for a divorce. A skilled family dispute lawyer in Houston can help you track down hidden assets so that the Texas court can award you your share.
Protecting Business Interests During Divorce
If you had a business before you got married or started a business during your marriage, you most definitely need an experienced divorce lawyer to protect your business interests during divorce. This is even more true if you have a family business that you and your spouse run together. The simple fact is that if you do not have a prenuptial agreement in place that protects your business, your spouse has a stake, even if they did not help build the business.
Disagreements about business assets are sometimes contentious, but in the worst cases, they can put you out of business. Rumors about divorce and fighting create uncertainty for customers and shareholders, if applicable. A lawyer can help you take steps to protect your business’s success and come up with an agreeable division. This might include shared profits but often includes one spouse buying out the other’s interest. A lump-sum buyout could lead to a financial catastrophe, so your lawyer can help arrange the plan that works best for your situation.
Divorce Lawyers Help Negotiate Spousal Support
If a large income gap exists between you and your spouse, there is a good chance you will pay or receive spousal maintenance or alimony as a part of your final divorce agreement. Unlike child support, which requires the payment of a clear percentage based on income, spousal support varies greatly among divorces. Judges review certain aspects of a case to decide if they will allow spousal maintenance and then review other things to set an amount.
If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement about spousal maintenance, and you let the court decide, one or both of you might hate the outcome. It’s far better to negotiate support as you discuss the division of your assets and come to an agreement. In either case, a divorce lawyer is an important part of the process. Lawyers help negotiate and sometimes facilitate mediation, so you can reach an agreement before your final divorce date.
If you need to go to court to let a judge determine whether you should receive or pay spousal maintenance, the judge will review several factors, including:
- Fault. If you or your spouse is filing for a divorce based on grounds of fault, the exact justification for your divorce can play a role in spousal support. When adultery, domestic violence, or substance abuse were factors in your marriage, spousal support is likely. If you are at-fault, you cannot typically collect spousal maintenance. If your spouse is at fault, the court might award spousal maintenance as punishment.
- Finances. The court will evaluate you and your spouse’s income, debt, and earning capacity. They will also take into account the way child custom impacts a person’s ability to earn money.
- Health, Age, and Length of Marriage. The court evaluates these things and often awards spousal maintenance when couples have been married for more than 10 years.
- Tax Implications. Judges typically do not order alimony if it leads to a negative tax situation for either you or your partner.
Hiring an attorney can impact whether you pay or receive spousal support. If you want to avoid a high payout, you need a divorce lawyer to fight for you by building a case that shows the amount of support requested is unreasonable. If you are requesting maintenance, you need a lawyer who can help you build a case for why you need support after divorce. Failure to get the legal help you need could result in you paying far more maintenance or receiving much less maintenance than you should.
Contact a Divorce Lawyer to Find Out How Legal Counsel Can Meet Your Specific Needs
Even when you and your spouse agree on everything about your split, you still need someone to prioritize your interests. At the very least, you should consult with an attorney and find out how a divorce lawyer can meet your needs. Maybe you only need a family dispute lawyer to review paperwork and file your papers with the court, or maybe you need more involved representation that requires gathering evidence to go against your spouse.
Regardless of your situation, the skilled legal team at Skillern Firm has decades of experience representing those going through a divorce. If you live in the Greater Houston area, contact us today online or at (713) 229-8855 for an initial consultation to discuss the details of your case and determine the best strategy for your individual situation.