Husband contemplating what he should ask for during a divorce proceeding

What to Ask for in Divorce to Protect Your Future

Divorce can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. The process can be hard enough to navigate without worrying about what your life after divorce will look like, too.

But what happens during your divorce in Texas can greatly impact your future. If you don’t know what to ask for in divorce, you could face challenges and difficulties in establishing financial independence and success later. Waiting until after your divorce is over to secure your future may be too late.

You don’t want to rely on your ex-spouse or the courts to safeguard your interests. Instead, you’ll need to make plans early with your divorce lawyer. Here’s what you need to know about protecting your future in a Texas divorce.

What Does It Look Like to Protect Your Future?

Protecting your future and that of your children means putting yourself in as strong of a financial position as possible. Looking out for bank accounts, property, and debt distributions will help you exit the divorce process prepared to care for your needs.

Arriving at the best possible position to protect your assets does not happen by accident. Careful planning and attention to detail are essential to ensuring you have the necessary resources to accomplish your financial goals.

What to Ask For in Divorce: 5 Things You Need to Look Out For

In any divorce, many decisions must be made to separate your affairs from your ex-spouse’s. It can be tempting to rush these matters so that you can finish the divorce process and focus on moving on. However, you can set yourself up for future hardships if you do not slow down and consider your needs.

But how do you know what to ask for on the path to a divorce settlement agreement? For most divorces, asking for these five elements is key.

1. Separate Property

The court will seek an equitable distribution of property you and your spouse own that is considered joint property. However, the property that you enter into the marriage with, along with other property you might acquire individually – such as an inheritance – is typically considered separate property. These and similar items are not subject to division by the court.

You should be mindful of any property settlement agreement that requires you to give up separate property. Also, be careful about any proposed property division order that takes into account the value of your separate property, as this can result in you receiving less marital property than you deserve.

2. Intangible Assets and Increases in Value

While separate property is not subject to division in a Texas divorce, the increase in value such property experiences during the marriage might be. 

For example, suppose that your spouse started a business before the marriage, but the business increased in profitability during your marriage. The business itself may be separate property, but you may be entitled to a share of the increase in its value.

You are also able to seek a division of the gains resulting from intangible assets like investments, retirement accounts, and health insurance (e.g. the value of an HSA plan). This is true even if the account was opened before your marriage or if your ex was the only one who contributed to it.

3. Alimony Payments

Depending on the dynamics of your marriage relationship, you and your ex-spouse may exit the divorce process with vastly different earning potentials. Your ex may have been the sole or primary breadwinner during the marriage while you supported the family in the home. 

On the other hand, you might have allowed educational and professional opportunities to pass by so that you could better support your spouse.

If you anticipate difficulty meeting day-to-day expenses immediately following your divorce, you should pursue spousal support (or spousal maintenance in Texas). You could receive a one-time lump sum payment or ongoing, periodic payments of support – depending on the length of the marriage.

Such income would be in addition to the marital property you receive and is designed to help you support yourself until you can become financially independent. Spousal support is also essential if you have a disability or are no longer able to work. 

If you cannot work because of a mental or physical disability during the marriage, it is unlikely that this will change once your divorce is finalized. Thus, pursuing spousal support as part of a divorce settlement is crucial to meet your basic needs.

4. Child Support

Parents in Texas have a legal obligation to support their minor children until those children reach adulthood or graduate high school. Custodial parents should not assume the responsibility for providing for their children’s needs themselves. Instead, child support should be expected from the non-custodial parent.

You and the non-custodial parent may be able to agree on a child support amount. But you’ll want to consult the Texas child support guidelines to gauge whether the amount proposed by the non-custodial parent is reasonable. 

Additionally, you should be familiar with child support calculations to ensure that additional expenses – such as medical bills, child care, and extracurricular activities – are factored into the final decision.

Once a child support order is in place, you can hold your ex accountable for making timely and regular payments. Emergencies happen and can be addressed on a case-by-case basis. However, if you begin excusing late and missed payments from your former spouse, it will become more difficult for your ex to catch up.

Not only this, but these missed payments mean you must contribute more financial resources to caring for your child, which hurts your ability to remain financially stable.

5. The Marital Home

Many divorcing couples consider their marital home one of their most valuable assets. Like other marital property, the home is subject to division by the court in a divorce proceeding. 

The court can accomplish a division by awarding the home to one spouse and assets of equal value to the other spouse. Alternatively, the court can order the home to be sold and the proceeds divided between you and your ex.

No matter how the court chooses to address the marital home, it is crucial that the property be appraised accurately. If your home’s value is not accurately determined, you may be left in a position where the amount you receive for this home is not as much as you should be entitled to.

Parker & Aguilar Can Help You Secure Your Future

A skilled Texas divorce lawyer is a valuable ally in pursuing financial independence and stability during a divorce. At Parker & Aguilar, we know what to look for to protect your future.

Whether you are concerned about child support, asset division, child custody, parenting time, or other specific issues, we can carefully analyze your situation and craft a strategy designed to prepare you for post-divorce life.

We currently support clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you reside in one of these counties, contact our Angleton office at 979-267-7660 or our Sugar Land office at 281-944-5485 to speak with a local family law attorney about what to ask for in divorce cases. Let’s protect your financial future today.