It’s not uncommon for couples going through a divorce to be on good terms with each other. I have worked with my fair share of couples in Texas who arrive at the mutual decision to divorce, resulting in what’s known as a friendly, peaceful, or amicable divorce.
But, even if you and your spouse are getting along during this time of change, many legal issues need to be thought through. This is where a divorce attorney comes into play.
The legal divorce process in Texas is complicated, and even if your spouse isn’t trying to take advantage of you, there could be undesired outcomes and unintended consequences that you’re not aware of.
Unfortunately, trying to handle a friendly divorce on your own could backfire. Let’s explore some of the big legal issues so you can see why it’s important to have legal representation.
What Are the Key Legal Issues During a Friendly Divorce?
From protecting your assets to ensuring a healthy relationship with your children, there are many important legal issues to work through.
1. Asset Division
In Texas, all assets acquired during the marriage are considered community property and will be divided equally in a divorce if the decision is left to the court. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
- Any property that you or your spouse owned prior to the marriage may be considered separate property.
- Gifts and inheritances may also be considered separate property.
If you and your spouse decide to agree on asset division outside of court – which is common in amicable divorce cases – it’s important to have a lawyer review the agreement before anything is finalized. This will ensure that the agreement is fair and that you’re not signing away any rights you may have.
Even if your spouse is being honest with you and has your best interests at heart, there could be wording in the agreement that you’re not aware of that could be detrimental to you in the future.
On the other hand, if you both agree to leave the divorce settlement up to the court, a judge will look at a variety of factors to determine how to divide your assets fairly. These factors can include:
- Each spouse’s ability to support themselves.
- The length of the marriage.
- Whether either spouse contributed to the education or career of the other.
Having a lawyer to present your side of the facts in court can help ensure that the judge sees things from your perspective.
2. Child Custody and Visitation
If you have children through the marriage, one of the most important aspects of your divorce will be deciding on child custody and visitation arrangements. As with asset division, this decision can be either left to the court or agreed upon by you and your spouse.
If you’re pursuing a peaceful divorce, you’ll likelyl be able to come to an agreement on child custody outside of court. To do this, you’ll need to decide on a parenting plan that outlines key elements such as:
- Where the child will live
- When they will visit either parent
- Who will be responsible for making decisions about the child’s education, health, and extracurricular activities (if not both parents)
Once again, it’s important to have a lawyer review your parenting plan before finalizing anything. Unlike many other aspects of the divorce process, a third party is involved in this decision – your child.
You want to ensure that the parenting plan is in your child’s best interest. A family law attorney such as myself can ensure that the plan is fair and protects your parental rights. I can also point out any gaps in your plan that could be problematic in the future.
3. Child Support
When it comes to child support, you and your spouse will also need to agree on the amount of financial support that will be paid. Although child support guidelines do exist in Texas, these are only meant to be used as a starting point.
You and your spouse can agree on an amount that is different from the guidelines, as long as it is in the best interest of your child. However, creating a child support agreement that is fair and realistic can be difficult without an in-depth understanding of the family law system. I can help you and your spouse come to an agreement that will work for both of you and ensure that it is enforceable in court.
Having an enforceable child support agreement is critical because if either of you fails to make the agreed-upon payments, the other party will have legal recourse to enforce the original order for child support payments.
Even when a divorce is amicable, financial issues can pop up down the line that will make it difficult for one spouse to keep up with their payments. In these cases, being able to take the other spouse to court to enforce the order can make all the difference.
4. Other Possible Issues
In addition to the three main issues discussed above, several other potential considerations could come into play during your divorce. Some of the other potential issues include:
- Alimony/Spousal Support/Spousal Maintenance
- Business Valuation
- Prenuptial Agreements
- Tax Consequences
Divorce law is complex, and each situation has unique legal needs. These issues do not need to involve conflict or disagreements to require the help of a divorce attorney. Many of them simply have too many legal implications to navigate on your own, even if you and your spouse are getting along.
The divorce process involves the creation of legal documents that will have a lasting impact on your life. What you’ll pay in legal fees will pale in comparison to the cost of making a mistake on one of these documents and having to deal with the consequences down the line.
Contact My Law Firm Today for Support
If you are filing for divorce in Texas, don’t start making decisions or signing paperwork until you have consulted with an attorney, even if you are on good terms with your spouse.
I can provide reliable legal advice from the very beginning of the process to ensure that your friendly divorce goes as smoothly as possible. I’ll also serve as a legal advocate in the court if any unanticipated disagreements arise down the line.
I currently help spouses in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County work through the divorce process in Texas. If you live in one of these counties, then contact me today to schedule a consultation.
Call my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to start a conversation. I look forward to helping you out.