A Family Law Attorney Offering Support And Practical Solutions
Going through any family law matter is likely to be difficult. You are being asked to make big decisions at a time when you are also grieving the loss of a marriage and worried about what the future holds for you and your children.
Whatever your greatest concerns are, whether it be custody of your children, dealing with a large amount of debt or retaining your fair share of the assets, you can count on Branick & Devenzio for supportive and practical guidance. Through informal settlement discussions, mediation or trial, Trent will use his knowledge and experience to work toward a unique agreement that works for your family.
Comprehensive Representation In Divorce And Custody Matters
Trent can guide you through your family law case from start to finish, including providing advice and representation in matters of:
- Divorce (litigation or mediation)
- Spousal support (also called alimony)
- Division of property, assets and debts
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Modifications to court orders for custody and support
- Re adoption
Whether your case is relatively simple or highly complex, you can trust Trent’s decades of experience to bring you to a successful resolution.
Financial Steps To Prepare For Divorce
Financially disentangling yourself from your spouse is often more difficult than it sounds. Here are steps you can take to make the process easier and smoother.
Obtain your credit reports – It can be important to obtain your credit reports before the divorce is filed so that anything in dispute before the divorce can be resolved before the proceeding is over. You can go to annualcreditreport.com to request all your reports from Experian, TransUnion and Eqifax at one time. The reports can be the quickest way to get an overview of loan balances, mortgages and credit card debt that you and your spouse will be splitting up.
Open individual accounts – Open individual bank, credit card and brokerage accounts before the divorce is over. It can be easier to get credit card and bank accounts in your own name while you are still married and share joint assets.
Close joint accounts – In order to avoid acquiring joint debt and to avoid the risk of losing shared bank accounts during the legal process, it can be a good idea to close joint bank accounts and credit cards. Note that you will still be jointly responsible for the unpaid debts that are incurred before the credit cards are closed.
Change beneficiaries – If you don’t change beneficiaries on your will, trusts, retirement accounts, pension plans and life insurance policies, your ex-spouse could unexpectedly receive the funds in these accounts in the event that you should pass away.
Create a financial inventory – Make notes about everything you know about your assets and debts. Pictures or videos can be an easy way to record your property prior to filing a divorce. It is a good idea to make copies of all important documents from the last three years. Suggested documents include tax returns, mortgage payments, bank statements and bills. This financial information can be an important starting point for your attorney.
Asset Division: Common Questions And Answers
Below are answers to some questions you may have about property and asset division.
How are assets divided?
As Texas is a community property state, all property acquired during the marriage relationship is considered community property and will generally be equally divided between both spouses. The law calls for a fair and equitable split of the community assets. However, there are exceptions. Also, a spouse with separate property rights will have a claim to the entirety of the separate property.
What is separate property?
This is property that is owned by one spouse. Separate property is generally property that was owned by a spouse before the marriage, property that was received as a gift or inheritance, or the proceeds from a legal settlement.
What is community property?
This is property that was acquired during the marriage relationship. In fact, it is presumed that property gathered during the marriage relationship is community property unless it is found to be separate property as defined herein.
How are debts divided?
Debts are divided in the same way that assets are divided; however, it is important to know that if your name is associated with a debt assigned to your spouse, you can still be held responsible for the debt if your spouse does not pay the obligation in a timely manner.
Helpful Definitions For Common Family Law Terms
Family law uses many terms that may be unfamiliar to many going through a divorce or custody matter. Below, you’ll find short definitions of many of these terms.
- Alimony – Payments made to support a spouse or former spouse after a separation and/or following a divorce
- Arrearage – A monetary obligation that is past due for child support or alimony
- Child support – Money that a noncustodial parent pays to the custodial parent on behalf of the children for the child’s support
- Custody – A parent’s rights regarding the children. Legal custody defines a parent’s rights and obligations regarding the child’s upbringing. Physical custody describes the living arrangement of the child.
- Decree – The written order which completes the divorce process
- Discovery – The process by which the parties exchange information after a divorce has been filed. This allows the parties to evaluate the case for settlement purposes and to prepare the case for trial if needed.
- Interrogatories – Written questions that must be answered in writing as part of the discovery process
- Joint custody – The joint right to make decisions about a child’s welfare by both parents
- Mediation – A form of alternative dispute resolution that is used to resolve disputes without going to trial. A neutral party will assist the parents in resolving the disputes that arise during the divorce.
- Petitioner – The spouse that begins the divorce process
- Qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) – An order issued by the court that directs an outside agency to divide retirement benefits
- Respondent – The spouse who answers a petition for divorce
- Restraining order – An order issued by a court that directs a party to stop doing something in relation to domestic violence or custody
- Visitation – The time when a noncustodial parent spends time with his or her children
If you have questions about these or any other terms, please take the time to discuss them with your attorney. A good attorney will be more than willing to answer questions and provide the information you need to make the important decisions facing you.
Reach Out Today To Discuss Your Legal Needs With An Attorney
With an office in Nederland, Branick & Devenzio serves clients throughout Southeast Texas. To schedule an initial consultation about your family law needs, please call 409-403-1370 or submit an online contact form.