As you move through the divorce process in Texas, you may want to gain insights into what a judge is thinking during your case. You may even be concerned about certain aspects of the divorce, such as the future of your assets and whether you will gain custody of your children.
So, what does a judge consider in a divorce case? Here is what you need to know about some of the most important issues that arise during the divorce process.
What a Judge Considers Regarding Marital Property
Perhaps the most important issue in your case is the division of marital property and assets. This is money and property that you and your spouse obtained while married.
The judge considers this property to belong to the marriage instead of individuals. Thus, when dividing assets, the judge will attempt to separate this property as fairly as possible.
Determining Marital Property
But how does a judge determine what property belongs to the marriage? The decision is easy if you and your spouse agree on the answer. But this is usually not the case.
Therefore, the judge has to rely on documents. You and your spouse will show the judge financial documents that reveal when you obtained assets. The more documents you have, the more likely the judge will rule fairly.
Determining Spousal Support
The judge doesn’t just consider marital property. They also have to determine whether one person has to pay spousal support – or alimony – to the other. Spousal maintenance is designed to help the other party maintain the same lifestyle post-divorce as during the marriage.
To determine whether spousal support is needed – and how much – the judge will look at both respective incomes to make a determination of whether this is necessary.
Determining Financial Debts
Another factor the judge considers is the obligations and debts of both parties. For example, if you or your spouse incurred $200,000 in student loans, that could affect how the judge separates funds and what type of financial support is ordered.
Similarly, if you or your spouse is obligated to pay some form of support from a previous divorce, that will also be considered.
Evaluating Jointly Owned Businesses
One of the more difficult decisions a judge may have to make is how to split a jointly owned business if you and your spouse own a business together.
The judge will want to split the business as fairly as possible. And, if the judge grants ownership to only one party, they have to balance the financial value of the business against other assets and debts assigned to the other party. These types of calculations usually require the involvement of accountants or other financial professionals.
Or, the judge might allocate the majority of the business (50.1%) to one party, allowing them to make critical business decisions without having to consult with their ex-spouse. However, because the ex-spouse still owns the other 49.9% of the business, they are entitled to receive certain profits.
What a Judge Considers Regarding Child Custody and Support
Other important decisions that judges have to make during divorce cases involve child custody and child support. Decisions about child custody are almost entirely based on what is in the best interest of the child.
These decisions are easier to make when the child is old enough to express an opinion, which is usually in their early teens or preteen years. But even then, the judge must verify the child has not been influenced by one of the parents.
In an ideal scenario, the judge will strive to follow the Texas Family Code to pursue shared or joint custody. However, the judge must consider whether the child will be in danger if one parent is granted shared custody. Once the judge is certain there is no abuse, they will strive to ensure that each parent has roughly equal time with the child, if possible.
When this isn’t possible, the judge will often grant generous visitation rights to whichever parent does not have primary custody.
Even if both parents have equal custody, the parent with the higher income will typically be ordered to pay child support to the other parent. The goal of child support is to ensure that the child has a reasonable amount of financial support, no matter which parent they are living with.
What Does a Judge Consider in a Divorce: Tap Into Our Expertise
Divorce cases can be stressful, especially when you are unsure which direction the judge will lean in their decision-making process. To help you navigate key issues in a divorce, we recommend working with an expert team of family law attorneys.
If you are currently representing yourself or unhappy with your current representation, consider working with Parker & Aguilar. We are prepared to help protect your parental rights, assets, and relationship with your children. With decades of experience at our disposal, we can answer all of your questions, including “What does a judge consider in a divorce?”
We currently support clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you live in one of these counties, contact our offices to discuss your divorce case.
You can reach us at 979-267-7660 (Angleton office) or 281-944-5485 (Sugar Land office) to speak with a local attorney who can help guide you toward the best options for your family. Let’s make sure you receive fair treatment from the judge in your Texas divorce.