Skillern Firm

(713) 229-8855

Skillern Firm
Home $ Divorce FAQ $ What Should I Ask for in a Texas Divorce Settlement?

What Should I Ask for in a Texas Divorce Settlement?

Two hands pulling on a dollar bill.

Determining what you should ask for in a Texas divorce settlement is pivotal to your post-marriage stability. Dividing property, securing child custody, and negotiating spousal support are all imperative through a divorce.

When considering your divorce settlement, it’s essential to assess your financial future and the well-being of any children involved. Property division should align with your needs, child custody arrangements must meet your child’s requirements, and spousal support negotiations should ensure your ongoing financial security.

As you make these decisions, seeking legal counsel is paramount to guide you through a Texas divorce. At Skillern Firm, our experienced team provides insightful and tailored assistance for individuals facing divorce. We understand the nuances of Texas family law and can offer personalized insights to navigate your unique situation.

Take proactive steps towards a stable future—contact us at 713-229-8855 for dedicated and compassionate legal assistance in securing a favorable divorce settlement. Your stability and peace of mind are our priorities, and we are here to support you through this challenging time.

Understanding Texas Divorce Settlements

A divorce settlement in Texas is essentially a legally binding agreement that addresses how assets will be divided, whether spousal support will be paid, and, in cases involving minor children, how custody and support will be handled. Divorce settlement agreements are created through a process of negotiation between the divorcing spouses, guided by Texas law and the principles of equity.

Texas law makes a clear distinction between community property and separate property. Community property encompasses assets and debts acquired during the marriage, and these are usually divided equally in a divorce settlement agreement. On the other hand, separate property includes assets owned prior to marriage, as well as certain types of personal injury awards and gifts, that are not subject to division in a divorce settlement agreement.

The division of assets and debt in a Texas divorce involves several steps:

  1. Identify all available assets.
  2. Classify the assets as either community or separate property.
  3. Assess the value of the assets through mutual agreement or appraisal.
  4. If the spouses cannot reach an agreement, they may seek mediation or go to divorce court.

Community vs. Separate Property

In Texas divorce settlements, community property is eligible for division between the spouses, while separate property remains under the ownership of the individual. Community property encompasses all assets acquired during the marriage, excluding those legally categorized as ‘separate property’.

Separate property in a Texas divorce encompasses:

  • Assets owned before the marriage
  • Individual inheritance or gifts
  • Personal injury compensation
  • Property acquired using personal funds
  • Benefits from a vested pension before the marriage

However, distinguishing separate property from community property can be challenging, especially when assets that are considered separate property have been commingled with community property.

Factors Affecting Property Division

Contrary to the thought held by many, nowhere in the Texas Family Code does it mention that a spouse is entitled to “50%” of an asset. 

Rather, various factors can impact how property is divided in a Texas divorce settlement. The court considers:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The contributions of each spouse
  • Each spouse’s earning potential
  • Each spouse’s health and age
  • Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage
  • Each spouse’s capacity for future earnings

These factors can have a substantial influence on the division of property.

This is known as the ‘Just and Right Division’ principle, which guides the court’s determination of how to distribute the community assets and debts in a divorce settlement. The court may also take into account any previous agreements regarding property division, such as prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, in addition to other factors. This can affect the court’s decision in the process of property division. If the spouses cannot agree on the division of their property, the court will decide on their behalf, ensuring that it aligns with Texas law and principles of equity.

Key Aspects to Consider in a Contested Divorce Settlement

Your contested divorce settlement requires careful consideration of several key aspects. These include:

  • The marital home
  • Retirement accounts
  • Child custody and support
  • Spousal support

Understanding these aspects can help you make educated decisions, protecting your financial and emotional well-being for the long term.

Another significant aspect of divorce settlements is health insurance. Ensuring both you and your children have essential coverage, with expenses fairly distributed based on each party’s financial capacity, is vital. This includes addressing children’s health insurance in terms of ensuring coverage and making equitable arrangements for the payment of premiums and any out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Contested Divorce

Facing a contested divorce introduces opportunities for strategic planning and meticulous examination, allowing for a tailored and equitable resolution. While the nature of these proceedings may lead to prolonged negotiations, the positive aspect lies in the thorough assessment of assets, including the marital home and retirement accounts. Child custody undergoes heightened scrutiny, providing an opportunity for both parties to advocate for their preferences and ensure the best interests of the children. Spousal support negotiations, although intricate, allow for a nuanced approach reflecting the unique circumstances of each party. Although a contested divorce may bring emotional challenges, it necessitates careful consideration of each aspect, fostering a pathway to a fair and balanced settlement. Skillern Firm’s skilled legal counsel is pivotal in guiding you through, protecting your interests, and working toward a resolution that aligns with your long-term goals.

Marital Home and Real Estate

One of the biggest decisions you’ll face in your divorce settlement is what to do with the marital home. Both spouses have equal entitlement to the home’s equity if it was acquired during the marriage. The value of the home is often determined by estimating its present market value based on comparable property sales in the area.

Determining whether to sell the marital home or buy out your spouse requires considering factors such as realtor fees, transfer taxes, and the level of home equity. Trading equity in the house for other financial resources can be advantageous, especially when selling the house would involve additional expenses such as realtor fees.

Retirement Accounts and Investments

Retirement accounts and investments are often significant marital assets in a divorce settlement. Any contributions to these accounts made during the marriage are classified as marital property and are eligible for division.

The division of assets such as pensions, IRAs, and 401(k)s often requires obtaining a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which legally transfers funds in these accounts between the ex-spouses. Consideration of these implications and the future financial requirements of both parties is crucial when dividing these assets.

Child Custody

If you have children, their well-being should be a top priority during your divorce. In Texas, custody arrangements are determined based on the best interests of the children, aiming to provide equal rights for both parents regarding the children’s residence.

When it comes to child custody, the Texas Family Code guides the process, focusing on the child. While custody arrangements are a critical aspect, it’s crucial to consider educational expenses, such as private school costs and college tuition, in your divorce settlement. Negotiating different terms for custody is possible as long as they align with the legal guidelines and prioritize the child’s welfare.

Spousal Support

Spousal support is another financial consideration in a divorce settlement. This is financial assistance provided by one spouse to the other after the marriage ends. Factors to consider when negotiating spousal support payments include the duration of the support and whether either party will require further education or training.

Negotiating a Fair Settlement

Successfully negotiating a fair settlement requires a clear understanding of your priorities, a willingness to compromise, and possibly the assistance of a professional. Focusing on your long-term needs and goals allows you to negotiate a settlement that ensures your financial and emotional well-being after the divorce.

However, negotiation is not always easy. Emotions can run high, and you may find it difficult to reach an agreement with your spouse on key issues. In these cases, you may benefit from another approach, such as mediation, or from seeking professional help.

Prioritizing Needs and Goals

Identifying and prioritizing your needs and goals is a critical step in preparing for your divorce settlement negotiations. This involves reflecting on what truly matters to you and how those priorities might be impacted by the divorce.

Your priorities could include financial stability, the best interests of your children, and emotional well-being. Focusing on these priorities enables you to negotiate a settlement that aligns with your long-term needs and goals. This also gives you a clear framework for making decisions and can help reduce conflict during the negotiation process.

Seeking Professional Help

Sometimes, despite your efforts, you may find it difficult to negotiate a fair settlement on your own. In these cases, it can be helpful to seek professional help.

At Skillern Firm, our experienced attorneys can guide you through the divorce process, offering experience in negotiation, mediation, and litigation. We can help you identify your priorities, understand the law, and negotiate a settlement that protects your interests.

6 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Divorce Settlements

While it’s important to understand the law and your priorities, it’s also important to be aware of common mistakes that can impact your divorce settlement. These include failing to update your estate plans and allowing emotions to cloud your decision-making.

By being aware of these potential pitfalls, you can take steps to avoid them and ensure that you negotiate a settlement that truly reflects your needs and goals.

1. Failing to Update Estate Plans

A mistake to avoid is failing to update your estate planning documents after your divorce. Your will, trusts, and beneficiary designations likely name your ex-spouse in various roles or as a beneficiary. Updating these documents to reflect your new circumstances is essential to ensure that your assets will be distributed according to your current wishes.

The process of updating these documents may involve removing your ex-spouse as a beneficiary and designating new beneficiaries. It’s recommended to seek guidance from an attorney or financial advisor to navigate this process.

2. Lack of Financial Transparency:

Another common mistake in divorce settlements is the lack of financial transparency. Failing to fully disclose all financial assets and liabilities can lead to an uneven distribution of marital property. Honesty and openness about financial matters are crucial for both parties to make informed decisions and achieve a fair settlement.

3. Neglecting Future Expenses:

Neglecting future expenses is a significant pitfall in divorce settlements. Overlooking potential future costs, such as education expenses or healthcare needs, can result in an incomplete settlement that doesn’t adequately address the evolving needs of both parties. Anticipating and addressing these future financial considerations is essential for a comprehensive and fair agreement.

4. Rushing the Process:

Rushing the divorce process is a common mistake that can lead to regrettable outcomes. Hasty decisions without thorough consideration of all aspects may result in an incomplete or unfavorable settlement. Taking the time to thoroughly review and understand the terms of the settlement is crucial for making well-informed decisions and avoiding long-term consequences.

5. Not Seeking Legal Counsel:

Not seeking legal counsel is a critical error in the divorce settlement process. Attempting a divorce without professional guidance can lead to overlooked details, potential legal pitfalls, and an unfavorable settlement. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney such as Skillern Firm ensures that your rights are protected and that you have the necessary support to make informed decisions throughout the divorce proceedings.

6. Emotional Decision-Making

Lastly, avoiding emotional interference in your decision-making process is important. Divorce is an emotional process, and it’s natural to experience feelings of sadness, anger, and regret. However, allowing these emotions to influence your decisions can lead to less rational and well-informed choices.

Strategies for handling emotions during a divorce negotiation include taking control of your emotions, managing emotional turbulence, and practicing skillful communication. At Skillern Firm, we understand the emotional challenges of divorce and can provide the support you need to make sound decisions.

How Skillern Firm Can Help You

Divorce settlements can be difficult and emotionally challenging, but understanding the law, identifying your priorities, and avoiding common mistakes can help you negotiate a fair settlement that supports your long-term needs and goals.

At Skillern Firm, we’re dedicated to helping individuals reach the best possible resolution in their divorce cases. Our experienced attorneys offer guidance in negotiation, mediation, and litigation, aiming to help you achieve this goal in your divorce settlement.

We handle complex divorce and family law cases, including those involving significant assets, closely held businesses, and intricate child custody issues. Our team provides specific legal representation to clients in the Houston, Sugar Land, and Katy, Texas areas, utilizing local legal experience.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your divorce process, reach out to us at 713-229-8855, and let our experienced legal team provide the support and guidance you need to navigate this challenging time and secure a favorable resolution tailored to your unique circumstances. Your peace of mind and a smoother transition into the next chapter are our highest priorities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a wife entitled to in a divorce settlement in Texas?

A wife in a divorce settlement in Texas is entitled to an equal division of community property, spousal support, potentially a portion of her husband’s retirement benefits, and a fair custody arrangement for any children from the marriage.

How do I get a good divorce settlement?

To get a good divorce settlement, make sure to ask for a fair share of assets, spousal support, retirement, and investment accounts, consider property and debt, and consult an experienced lawyer to ensure your rights are protected.

Does the length of marriage affect divorce settlement in Texas?

Yes, in Texas, the length of the marriage is considered when determining how to divide assets and debts in a divorce settlement. This is based on factors such as earning capacity and the relative needs of each spouse.

What is considered separate property in a Texas divorce?

In a Texas divorce, separate property includes assets owned before the marriage, individual inheritance or gifts, personal injury compensation, and property acquired using personal funds. These items typically remain with the original owner in the event of a divorce.