Archive for August, 2013

Divorcing without an Attorney Can Make for an Expensive Divorce in Texas

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Because Texas Divorce Attorney Alex Tyra spends most mornings in local courthouses representing divorce clients, his perspective on the folly of a DIY divorce is based on watching people learn the hard way that this is potentially an expensive and devastating choice.  While we receive calls all the time from parties involved in a divorce or contemplating divorce that want to know if they need an attorney to pursue a Texas divorce, the answer to this question is not necessarily straightforward.  There is no requirement that you use an attorney, but there are distinct advantages to having legal representation that include the following:

Avoiding Unnecessary Expense: It may seem counterintuitive to view retaining legal representation as a way to save money.  However, the reality is that the amount you pay in attorney fees may be trivial compared to what you sacrifice in alimony or your share of a family residence or retirement account without legal representation.  Additionally, many divorces that could result in an amicable negotiated divorce with legal representation may become a bitter contentious divorce when attorneys are later brought into the case after the parties are no longer receptive to negotiating the terms of a settlement agreement.

Knowing Your Rights: Once a divorce judgment is entered by a Texas family law judge, it can be extremely difficult to modify the terms if you made a mistake because you misunderstood your rights under Texas law.  Those who handle their own divorce may not understand their interest in assets that have both a community property and separate property component.  The division of “mixed character assets” entails calculating the separate property and community property contributions toward the assets.  Once the separate and community property interests have been ascertained, the amount of appreciation attributable to each must be determined.  Alimony can be even harder to estimate because there are a long list of factors that are considered rather than a straightforward formula like the one used to determine guideline child support.  When you work with an experienced Texas divorce attorney, the lawyer will inform you of your rights so that you can make informed decisions about how to proceed.

Achieving Durable & Amicable Settlements: Although many people have misconceptions about the nature of an attorney’s role based on depictions by the entertainment industry and media, the role of a divorce lawyer is not to stir up disputes and conflict but to facilitate a favorable settlement.  Certainly, contentious litigation may be both necessary and appropriate, but family law attorneys bring experience handling a wide range of issues.  This knowledge combined with familiarity regarding how judges typically rule on an issue can lead to mutually beneficial settlements.

Efficiency: When spouses proceed without a Texas divorce attorney, they may make critical mistakes in terms of the paperwork filed in court.  These mistakes can delay important temporary orders for spousal support, child support, possession of a residence and/or custody orders.  Failure to properly complete court documents or provide the court with required information also may result in delays that make a divorce take much longer than necessary.

If you are involved in a divorce in Texas, Longview divorce attorney Alex Tyra offers a free consultation so that he can help you understand your rights and options.  We invite you to contact us at 903-753-7499 or visit our website and submit a case contact form.

Why Texas Spouses Should Consider a Prenuptial Agreement

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Prenuptial agreements traditionally have been viewed by many as a way high net worth individuals protect their financial interests if a marriage does not work out.  This traditional notion is fairly dated because a growing number of middle class families are using prenuptial agreements to provide predictability and fairness in settling issues arising in marriages that end in divorce.  Although there is room to quibble about the methods involved in the calculation of the divorce rate, it has been widely asserted that almost half of all marriages will end in divorce.  Even if the percentage of marriages that fail is less than fifty percent, there is little question that many marriages do not survive for a range of reasons including incompatibility, financial pressure, infidelity and other issues.  Longview, Texas Divorce Attorney Alex Tyra provides an overview of the benefits to be garnered from a premarital agreement for those who eventually face a marital dissolution.

Reduce the Cost of Divorce: While many divorces proceed efficiently on an amicable basis, there also are a fair number of divorces that are highly contentious.  Divorces that are bitterly contested can cause litigation costs and attorneys fee expenses to escalate.  When assets are difficult to value or have a mixed character between a marital property and separate property interest, the process of property division can get complicated.  Further, there is no fixed formula for the calculation of alimony so it can be difficult to predict how much alimony will be awarded or the duration of such alimony.  If these issues are aggressively litigated, the cost of resolving the issues can be costly so a mutually acceptable agreement negotiated prior to marriage can conserve the financial resources available to the parties to rebuild financially.

Obtain More Stable Judgments: There is a common tendency to presume that once a divorce judgment is reached, a marital dissolution is concluded so that the parties will not need to continue to cope with the additional stress, expense and inconvenience of going back to court.  However, negotiated settlements, which include those arising out of a premarital agreement, tend to be more satisfactory to both parties than orders imposed by a judge.  If a prenuptial agreement is negotiated and reasonably acceptable to both parties, it reduces the probability of repeatedly needing to return to court for enforcement and modification proceedings.

Protect Kids & Grandchildren from Prior Relationships: If you have a legacy that you wish to leave to your kids and/or grandchildren, this can be complicated when you have prior marriages.  A prenuptial agreement can provide a means for you to ensure that both your current spouse and your children from prior relationships are provided for in the event of a divorce.

Prevent Disputes about the Proper Characterization of Assets: One complication that arises in many divorces involves disputes regarding whether a particular asset is community property that is ordinarily divided between the parties or a separate property asset that usually is kept by the party who acquired the asset.  A prenuptial agreement can provide documentation of the parties’ intentions regarding the character of these assets so that it is clear that certain assets were anticipated to remain separate property.

Protecting an Established Business: When a spouse enters a marriage with an already established business, this spouse can ensure that the separate property business that has been built prior to marriage is protected by the prenuptial agreement.  When either party has substantially more assets, a successful business or a significant anticipated inheritance, a prenuptial agreement can protect these types of separate property assets.

If you are involved in a divorce or you have specific questions about prenuptial agreements, Texas family law attorney Alex Tyra offers a free consultation so that he can help you understand your rights and options.  We invite you to contact us in our Longview, Texas office at 903-753-7499 or visit our website and submit a case contact form.