Divorce Attorneys for Men & Father’s Rights in Houston, TX
Research shows that women initiate divorce more than 70 percent of the time. Maybe you want to file for divorce, or more likely, your wife has filed to dissolve your marriage. You might feel the need to agree to whatever she wants to get through this difficult time quickly. Yet, you should not agree to unreasonable conditions. You have rights too. You need a divorce lawyer who understands the challenges men sometimes face as they go through a divorce.
The Skillern Firm has an extensive team of divorce lawyers in Houston. They have experience representing and helping men fight against the stereotypes they might face in the Harris County family court system. If you live in the Greater Houston area, and you wish to divorce your partner, or your partner has filed divorce papers, contact Skillern Firm online or call (713) 229-8855 to schedule an initial consultation. You can share your situation with us and learn more about how we can protect your rights and your share of marital assets during this difficult time.
Until you have the chance to meet with one of our attorneys, we provide preliminary information below about some major moving parts of divorces in Houston and how they impact you.
No-fault Grounds and Community Property in Texas Divorces
Men are often the primary breadwinners in many marriages, forcing them to take on much of the financial pressure of the divorce. Texas is one of several community property states, which means courts equitably distribute assets to you and your spouse when you divorce. It’s best to come to an agreement, but if your spouse has unreasonable expectations or requests, reaching an agreement could be difficult.
Texas also allows those who file for divorce to choose between seeking an at-fault or a no-fault divorce. No-fault divorces are a common choice because they are typically faster and less expensive. If someone files a fault divorce, they must provide justification and evidence to the court about their grounds for divorce. For example, if you have proof your spouse is having an affair, you could file for a fault divorce on the grounds of adultery. Fault divorces can impact every aspect of a divorce, from how you divide assets to whether you pay or receive spousal support and what kind of custody arrangement you and your wife have children.
Asset Division in Houston Divorces
If your spouse has already filed for divorce and hired an attorney, you might have received an offer about how to divide up the largest of assets. You should never accept an offer without letting your divorce lawyer in Houston review the agreement and ensure your spouse is not taking advantage of you. It’s not uncommon for men to view divorce as a business transaction and quickly agree to less than desirable terms to speed up the process and move on with life.
Even if you did not file, you need to take an active part in coming with a reasonable division of assets, especially if you make significantly more income than your spouse. You might be tempted to hide assets by selling them to a family member or friend for a cheap price, hiding tangible assets at a friend’s home, or putting money in other accounts unknown to your wife. Do not attempt to hide assets; it backfires in most situations.
During the divorce process, you must disclose all of your financials to reach agreements about dividing assets, spousal support, and child support. Your spouse’s lawyer will uncover every rock to find a missing dollar. If you intentionally hide assets, the consequences could be costly. Instead, it’s in your best interest to compromise and speak with your divorce lawyer in Houston, who can suggest potential solutions.
You can petition the court that specific assets should be separate property and not fall under the state’s community property rules. Examples of assets that the court will likely consider separate property include:
- property acquired before marriage
- gifts from friends or family
Keep in mind that sometimes separate property gets intermingled in your marriage, especially if you and your spouse have been together for a long time. For example, if one of you received a large inheritance, that money is technically yours. However, if you invested that money in other things or put some of it in retirement accounts, any interest or dividends you accrued from the inheritance will likely fall under community property. This makes it even more important that you hire an experienced divorce attorney who can enlist the help of an account to trace assets, ensuring you get what is rightfully yours in a divorce settlement.
Dividing Retirement Accounts in Houston Divorces
Your spouse may contribute equally to your household’s monthly income, or they may be the primary breadwinner. In these cases, they likely have their own 401K or pension from their job. If you have children, and your spouse stays home with them and only works part-time or does not work outside the home at all, you likely have all job-related retirement accounts in your name. Depending on the level of financial planning you did while you were married, you might also have an IRA for your spouse. Regardless of whose name is on these retirement or investment accounts, they are community property in a divorce. Only premarital contributions qualify as separate property.
Types of Assets You Must Divide in a Houston Divorce
Although we mentioned a few things above, you need to consider all the property you have to divide during a divorce. Some men simply walk away, except for a few things. Other men go out of their way to try to take everything they can and leave their spouse with nothing. A happy medium exists where you and your spouse can leave your relationship with each of you getting your fair share of the property you acquired during your marriage. Your divorce attorney in Houston will remind you about everything you need to consider, but here is a list of types of property you and your spouse will need to divide besides retirement accounts.
- Your primary residence—will one of you stay, or will you sell and divide the proceeds?
- Other real property in or around Houston, including secondary residences, vacation homes, timeshares, etc.
- Vehicles, boats, motorcycles, lawnmowers, ATVs, and anything else with wheels
- Everything inside your garage and kitchen, such as tools, grills, pots and pans, dishes, etc.
- Personal items, especially jewelry and watches
- Artwork, photos, and other keepsakes
Protecting Your Business During a Divorce
If you started a business during your marriage, your spouse is entitled to her share of its value, even if she did not play a part in building the business. If you started the businesses before getting married, you might be able to keep them separate to some extent. Dealing with business interests during a divorce is complicated and requires valuations, accountants, and lawyers to ensure fairness. Ultimately, your goal is to not only protect your share of business assets but protect your business from failure or liquidation as a result of divorce.
Yet, the worst fallout from a divorce sometimes occurs because of fighting over a business. If customers get wind of family issues, it could hurt business. If you have a small business in a Houston neighborhood, customers might take sides, which could adversely impact your sales. If you have a large company, investors and/or shareholders could lose confidence in your business. You could lose customers, clients, contracts, vendors, and more. It’s best to keep your divorce under wraps to protect your business.
During a Houston divorce, it’s not uncommon for one spouse to buy out the other’s business interests. Yet, large lump sum payments or loans could place a massive financial burden on your business, which ultimately leads to bankruptcy or liquidation. An experienced divorce attorney from the Skillern Firm, in Houston, can also address whether personal goodwill is the real value of your business which cannot be divided by a court. A Skillern Firm divorce attorney can review your situation and likely suggest a solution that allows you and your spouse to exit your marriage without running your business into the ground.
Child Custody in Houston Divorces
Men often deal with the harmful stereotype that mothers should be the primary caregivers after a divorce, sometimes putting fathers at a disadvantage when it comes to child custody, referred to as conservatorship in Texas. Some men simply give custody to their wives because they also buy into the stereotype. Houston’s Harris County family courts, and all Texas courts, put the best interest of the child first. It’s assumed that in the vast majority of cases, a child’s best interest is to have both parents in their life. Shared custody is the desired outcome, but sometimes it’s not best for your child.
If you are the primary caregiver, if your spouse is abusive, or if your spouse abandoned or endangered your children, you have the right and the obligation to fight for the sole managing conservatorship of your children. It’s a long fight to have your spouse’s parental rights terminated, but under very rare and certain circumstances, the court might be on your side.
Regardless of your exact circumstances, the Skillern Firm’s divorce lawyers understand the challenges men face in custody battles for their children. You deserve fair treatment by the court, and we can help.
Child Support in Houston Divorces
Child custody and child support do not go hand in hand in Texas divorces. Courts determine child support payments based on recommended guidelines and adjust them when necessary. If your income is significantly higher than your wife’s, you can expect to pay child support even if you share custody. The exact amount you must pay varies but usually begins at around 20 percent of your adjusted gross income for one child and increases from there. Ultimately, you do not have much control over the amount you pay, or your wife pays if she earns more income than you. However, if you have other children outside of the marriage or relationship, they will be considered and the percentage will be reduced according to a set formula.
Alimony in Houston Divorce Cases
Harris County courts, and courts throughout Texas, have only recently begun to award spousal support and do so under strict conditions. It’s best to divide assets in a way that also sets your wife up for success after the marriage, especially if you have been married for a long time or have young children. This way, your wife might consider not requesting alimony.
Under normal circumstances, you only have to pay alimony to your wife if she does not have the income or property to provide for her basic needs. Additionally, one of these scenarios must apply:
- You were convicted of a violent crime against your wife or children within two years of filing for divorce.
- You have been married for at least 10 years.
- Your wife has a disability that prevents her from supporting herself.
- Your wife is the primary caregiver of a disabled child.
Contact a Divorce Attorney for Men in Houston, TX
Divorce is a grueling and emotional process that includes separating your life from your spouse, no matter how difficult it might be. You don’t have to be a victim of the stereotypes placed on men during a divorce. You have financial rights and custodial rights, and you do not simply have to give in to every unreasonable demand your wife makes. Contact Skillern Firm today online or at (713) 229-8855 to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your divorce. We can strategize about the best way to protect your rights and your assets as you move on with your life after divorce.