When clients come in to meet with a divorce attorney, they are often recently separated and very emotional. Our clients often latch onto preconceptions to help them through this difficult time. From our initial consult, it is our job to help you through this emotional and challenging process and provide you realistic expectations for the outcome of your case. With that said, these are a few misconceptions we often have to discuss:
- I was the stay-at-home parent; therefore, I will get most of the parenting time with them now that we are separated.
Reality: A judge will not punish the working parent who did not stay home with the children in the divorce. Usually, that parent will at least get a standard possession order, which results in that parent getting the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of the month, and at least two hours during the week, if not more. The judge will give the working parent an opportunity to become significantly involved in their children’s lives. It is up to that parent to take it!
- I am going to get everything since my spouse cheated on me.
Reality: This is a biggie for many clients. A spouse’s infidelity is emotionally unbearable; however, it often has little impact on a judge’s division of the property. The primary way infidelity becomes a problem in Texas’ divorce cases is when a spouse spent exorbitant amounts of money on their paramour. In Texas, we call that “Fraud on the Community.”
- I was the only working parent. Everything we have is mine.
Reality: Nope. Everything you acquired after you were both married is community property (except for items acquired by gift, devise, or inheritance). That means a judge can split it in a “just and right” manner. The judge will consider many factors ranging from how much separate property to who gets primary custody of the children.
- It is in my name; therefore, I own it.
Reality: Not necessarily. In Texas, the person who has the title of the property does not necessarily own it. There are a variety of rules that help attorneys and judges determine if the piece of property is their separate property or part of the community estate.
- When we divorce, the judge must split everything equally.
Reality: Nope. In Texas, a judge will make a decision based on a “just and right” division. There are cases in Texas that set forth the various factors a judge will consider. Judge’s can award a 90/10 split, 50/50 split, 30/70 split, etc. The power to make the property division lies with the judge, it is our job to explain to the judge why you deserve the division you are asking the judge to give you.
- I can handle my own divorce.
Reality: I once heard a Judge tell a party representing themselves: “A lawyer went to law school for three years, took a two-and-a-half-day exam, and sees these things everyday…and even they can’t get some things right.” The shortest, simplest marriages can often be some of the most difficult to handle. Being represented by an attorney, who understands the minutia of Texas Family Law is the best choice.