Financial Issues During a Divorce

Divorce comes with many complexities, so make certain you have the right professional to help with your legal and financial issues.

A divorce is frequently a complex business. The emotions are complex, if you have children, the logistics of the conservatorship is complex and the separation of the couple's finances in the property division portion of the divorce settlement are likely to be complex.

As one of the parties to the divorce, your view and perspective of everything is likely colored by your emotions, which may leave you in a haze much of the time as you attempt to come to terms with what the future may bring.

This is why you have an attorney, who can help you understand Texas family law and to work through all of the pieces. The Texas Family Code massive, complex and for most non-attorneys, virtually unintelligible.

For instance, just Chapter 153, dealing with "CONSERVATORSHIP, POSSESSION, AND ACCESS," which governs what would broadly be called custody and visitation of children in most states, is 81 pages long. Your attorney can guide you and help you to understand how all of those pages affect your situation.

Financial complexity

Another complex area will be your finances. Even with a straightforward divorce, the division of marital property can be contentious. Texas has the additional complexity of being a community property state. This means that property acquired during the marriage becomes "community" property and is to be divided equitably, or what is "just and right."

This means it probably will not be an even 50/50 split. The court will consider multiple factors in allocating marital property. Such things as the length of your marriage; your income, education and health; the custody of your children; the fault for the divorce and your age are just some of the factors the court will consider.

If you and your spouse can agree on terms, you may do better than if you disagree and leave it up to the judge. On the other hand, if the facts are on your side and your attorney can fashion compelling arguments that will win the judge to your side, it may be worth the risk if the other party is contentious and uncooperative.

Business valuation

The difficulty may be even greater if you or your soon-to-be former spouse owns a business or professional practice. The important element here is to correctly determine the value of the business. This can be very complex depending on the business and your involvement. If you are not involved in the business, you may not want to rely on your spouse's disclosures.

With a business that has complex finances, much can be done with "creative" bookkeeping and if your spouse has been planning a divorce for long, they may have been hiding assets for years. You may need a forensic accountant to work with your attorney to unpack the bookkeeping and ascertain the true value of the business.

This is really important

Property division is very important because you only have one chance to get it right. Unless you can prove fraud at a later date, which is always a difficult and expensive task, you are not allowed to reopen a property division to modify the amount. It is presumed you will do your homework and present the judge with the correct numbers the first time.

So you must work with your attorney and any other financial professionals necessary to obtain an accurate and equitable division of your marital assets. Done correctly, it will provide a solid foundation for your future after the divorce is complete.