Month: January 2019

Dividing a Business in Texas Divorce

Divorce and Property Division in Texas: What Happens to the Family Business?

This blog posts discusses divorce and property division where a business is involved in a Texas Divorce. Divorce can be complicated. After the issue of child custody arrangements, the division of marital property usually tops the list of complications. A family business can make an already complicated process that much more difficult. A family business is often a symbol of all the hard work and commitment you have put into both your family and your career, and walking away can be especially painful. If you are facing a divorce and you own a family business, you need an experienced Houston divorce attorney.

What is Martial Property in Texas?

In Texas, the property you acquire during your marriage is generally considered marital property. Marital property is divided between you and your divorcing spouse in a way that the court deems “just and right.” (See Texas Family Code 7.001). Suffice to say, however, that the court’s determination of what is just and right may be odds with your ideas of how to divide your property. Coming to terms with the outcome can be especially difficult. Unless you and your spouse are able to hammer out an agreement related to your business, the court will make the determination for you.

Read this blog post to learn more about “Property and Debt Division in Texas: What you should Know.

How Do I Value the Family Business in a Texas Divorce?

It is difficult to come to an equitable division of a family business in a divorce if you do not have an accurate valuation of that business. The thing about business valuations, however, is that they can vary widely. While reputable business valuators should ultimately come to similar values, there is plenty of room for your spouse to bolster the business’s value or to minimize the business’s value – depending upon his or her motivations. In other words, obtaining one business valuation that accurately reflects your business’s value and that both of you can agree upon can be a challenge. If you own a business chances are you have substantial assets.  For a more detailed discussion, check out our article “High Asset Divorce in Texas, What you Need to Know“.

Businesses are Sometimes More than Monetary Value

When your divorce involves a business, it is essential to recognize that the business likely has more than just monetary value. If you are involved in running the business, it is probably a labor of love that can be difficult to monetize. Further, the business provides you with a career and a means of supporting your family. This is something that a check written for an amount that equals roughly half the business’s value simply cannot do. If you are facing a divorce that involves a family business, there is a lot to consider.

Options for Dividing a Family Business in a Texas Divorce

If your business is a going concern that provides for your family, you have options when it comes to your divorce:

• You can continue running the business as business partners who are not married. If you ran the business together as a married couple, you still have the requisite experience, skill, and commitment to doing so that you had before you were divorced. However, if your divorce is plagued by acrimony – which nearly any divorce can devolve into – this path forward is unlikely to be successful.

• You can sell the business and split the proceeds. While this is often the cleanest approach, it has its own inherent difficulties. The proceeds from such a sale can vary widely due to a fluctuating market and to your ability to find the right buyer at the right time. Ultimately, selling for the sole purpose of divorce can be a financial setback.

• One of you can buy the other’s interest in the business. This option makes a lot of sense because it provides the business with continuity of ownership, it guarantees that the business will continue to be competently managed, and it bypasses the need to worry about the market and to find the right buyer right now.

The difficulty with this option is that it can be very hard to walk away from a business that you have worked so hard to manage and grow. Additionally, if your business continues on the successful path that you have helped set it on, your ex-spouse is likely to reap greater rewards (than you may have been compensated for) by selling in a strong market to the right buyer, which could take years but could also happen soon after the divorce.

When it comes to divorce and your family business, there are so many angles to consider that it is nearly impossible to formulate a “right” answer. Instead, a dedicated divorce attorney will help you see the big picture, will help you determine what options are likely to work best for you and your children, and will help you move forward with purpose – knowing that you have made informed decisions in your pursuit of life after divorce.

The Family Business and Mediation

If your divorce does proceed to court, the judge will determine how the division of your family business will be handled, and this is generally not in your best interests. If you and your divorcing spouse – with the guidance of your respective attorneys – cannot come to an agreement that is somewhat mutually satisfactory, formal mediation can help. The neutral mediator in the process will help both of you better understand exactly what your options are and what will likely happen if you take the matter to court. Hammering out a decision together that helps preserve the integrity of the business you built together can be an important step forward in the divorce process in Texas.

Divorce being what it is, however, mediation does not always accomplish its intended results. Your experienced Houston divorce attorney will work closely with you throughout the process and will help you keep your eyes trained for what is best for you and your children – whether that means continuing with the mediation process or proceeding to court.

Read this blog post for more information on mediation: “Houston Divorce Mediation and why it is better than Trial

If You Are Facing a Divorce that Involves a Family Business, You Need an Experienced Houston Divorce Attorney

Few things complicate a divorce more than a family business, but experienced legal counsel will help you find a solution that works for you. The dedicated legal professionals at Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., have the experience and fortitude to fight for your case’s best possible resolution. We care about your case, and we are here to help, so please fill out an online evaluation using the “Contact Us” link in the menu or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

Please read the articles below for more valuable information on the process of divorce in Texas.

Connect with me on Google+ at +Shawn Rudisel

Adultery in Texas Divorce

Does Adultery Play a Role in a Texas Divorce?

Texas Divorce and Adultery

Most Texas divorces are difficult, and every divorce is unique to its own set of circumstances. If your spouse engaged in an affair during your marriage – or during the divorce process itself – it can make an already challenging experience that much more painful. If you are considering a divorce and wondering if your spouse’s unfaithfulness will play a role in its outcome, you need to speak with an experienced Houston divorce attorney. As discussed in our article, “Meeting Your Divorce Lawyer for the First Time: What you need to Know” it is imperative that you disclose this type of information. In the end, your spouse’s infidelity can affect the outcome of your divorce, but the effects likely will not be as straightforward as you might imagine.

Texas: A No-Fault Divorce State

Texas is a no-fault divorce state in the sense that you do not need to cite fault to obtain a divorce. In a no-fault divorce, insupportability (often referred to as irreconcilable differences) typically stands in as the reason behind the divorce. It is important to recognize, however, that in Texas – unlike in many other states – you have the option of filing a divorce based on fault, including adultery. While most Texas divorces are no-fault divorces and the path toward such a divorce is far more straightforward, there are instances when pursuing a divorce based on fault is the appropriate approach. A dedicated Houston divorce attorney will help you determine your best options as you go through the divorce process.

The Legal Definition of Adultery

For your spouse’s infidelity to reach the level necessary to file for a divorce based on fault, his or her actions must correspond with Texas’s legal definition of adultery. In the Texas Family Code, adultery is defined very specifically:

• A married person who voluntarily has sexual intercourse with someone who is not his or her spouse commits adultery.
• A married person who engages in sexual acts (that are not intercourse) with someone who is not his or her spouse has not committed adultery.

This distinction can be a difficult concept with which to come to terms. For example, even if you discover that your spouse is having a heated relationship, including explicit photographs, on his or her phone or computer, this relationship does not equate with the legal definition of adultery. In other words, even though your spouse is engaging in behavior that you – and most other people – consider a betrayal, it is not adultery in Texas unless it meets Texas’s legal definition of adultery.

People also read: At Fault Divorce in Texas: Abandonment

We Were Separated at the Time

Even if you and your spouse were living separately at the time that the adultery occurred, it has no bearing on the legal claim of adultery. In Texas, married couples remain married until they are divorced. Texas does not recognize legal separations, so if your spouse begins a new sexual relationship before you are divorced, he or she is committing adultery. This is true even if you are separated and going through the divorce process.

Proving Your Spouse’s Adultery

To bring a divorce that is based on your spouse’s adultery, you must be able to provide proof of that adultery with evidence that is “clear and convincing.” This is a higher standard of proof than the “preponderance of the truth” that typically applies in civil cases. The necessary proof can be as simple as your spouse admitting to the relationship, but it can also necessitate the compilation of evidence that supports your claim. This means that your divorce is going to be decidedly more complicated and more labor intensive than a no-fault divorce would likely be. Your trusted attorney will help you determine if the additional outlay of work is worth the likely outcome.

Adultery and Your Divorce

In Texas, your marital property is not necessarily divided equally in a divorce but instead is divided in a manner that the court deems “just and right.” This means that the judge who hears your case has considerable latitude when it comes to the division of your marital property, which – other than child custody arrangements – is the primary focus of most divorces. As such, the judge who hears your case can take your spouse’s adulterous behavior into consideration when determining how your marital property should be divided between the two of you. If your spouse committed adultery, you can request that you be awarded a disproportionate percentage. Again, this outcome remains at the judge’s discretion when deciding property division in a Texas divorce.

It is also worth noting that pursuing a divorce based on adultery can have a motivating effect on some spouses. If your spouse is very concerned with his or her reputation, he or she may be inclined to agree to more generous settlement terms with you outside of court. Generally, avoiding court – where the judge will determine your financial future – is better for everyone. For a more in depth discussion of property division during a Texas divorce, read  our article entitled, “Property and Debt Division in Texas: What you should Know.

Some Components of Divorce Are Not Affected by Adultery

While your spouse’s adultery may play a role in how the court divides marital property between the two of you, there are certain aspects of your divorce that it will not affect:

• Eligibility for spousal maintenance or alimony is not affected by adultery. If you are eligible for spousal support, however, the amount and duration may be affected.
• Adultery probably will not play a role in the child custody arrangements that come out of your divorce. This is an illustration of the theory that being a faithless spouse does not necessarily make someone a bad parent. Our article entitled “Texas Divorce and Spousal Maintenance” gives an in-depth overview of spousal maintenance.

Moving Forward with a Fault-Based Divorce

There are situations in which moving forward with a divorce based on adultery is meaningful and situations where it is not. A divorce that is based on fault is typically a more complicated and expensive endeavor, so unless your marital property is fairly extensive, you may be better off going with a no-fault divorce. Again, however, every divorce is as unique as the two divorcing individuals, and a dedicated divorce attorney will help you see the big picture and identify the option that works best for you.

If You Are Facing a Divorce that Involves Adultery, Consult with an Experienced Houston Divorce Attorney Today

Divorce is always difficult, but infidelity often makes it that much more painful. If adultery plays a role in your divorce, the dedicated legal team at Rudisel Law Firm, P.C.,can help you navigate your best path forward. Our experienced divorce attorneys are here to help, so please fill out an online evaluation using the “Contact Us” link in the menu or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

Please read the following articles for a more involved discussion of Divorce in Texas:

Connect with me on Google+ at +Shawn Rudisel

Best divorce lawyer in Houston

Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce in Texas

If you’re going through a divorce in Texas, you have questions. Here are some answers to questions we often hear from clients when they first come to see us. For more information, call us today to speak with a Texas divorce attorney.  Texas Family Law is what we do.

How do I begin the divorce process in Texas?

The best way to begin the divorce process is by consulting with an experienced Houston divorce attorney, who will file an Original Petition for Divorce on your behalf.  You will be named as the petitioner (the spouse who begins the case by filing the Original Petition for Divorce), and your spouse will be named as the respondent (the spouse who is positioned to respond to the Original Petition for Divorce).

The following articles explain meeting with your attorney in more detail:

Can I obtain a legal separation in Texas?

In the State of Texas, unlike in many other states, there is no legal separation; you remain married until you are legally divorced. If you need to protect your interests related to your property and/or your children during the divorce process, you’ll need to obtain temporary orders.

Does Texas recognize common law marriage?

Yes, Texas recognizes common law marriages when three separate elements are all met:

1. A man and woman agree that they are in a common law marriage.
2. The couple lives together as husband and wife in Texas.
3. The two present themselves to the public as a married couple.

When all three elements are met, and it is determined that you are in a common law marriage, then (in order to dissolve that common law marriage) you must go through the divorce process just like any other married couple.

Where do I file for divorce?

You can file either in the Texas county that you live in as a married couple (if you live together) or in the Texas county where either one of you lives (if you are no longer living together). It’s important to note, however, that the spouse who lives in the county where the divorce is being filed must meet residency requirements, including that he or she has lived in the county for at least 90 days (immediately prior to filing) and has lived in Texas for at least six months (immediately prior to filing).

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What is a Waiver of Service?

Under the Texas Family Code, when one spouse opens a divorce case, the respondent must be notified – usually by a process server. If the respondent is willing to sign a Waiver of Service, he or she waives the need to be served formally.  This is one difference between contested divorces and uncontested divorce.

No Fault Divorce State

No, Texas is what is known as a no-fault state, which means either one of you can file for a divorce based on the fact that your marriage is insupportable. Basically, this means that it’s only necessary for one (or both) of you to want a divorce – whatever the reason is.  As discussed in “Does Adultery Play a Role in a Texas Divorce?” a finding of fault in a Texas divorce can affect property division.

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce in Texas is one in which both you and your spouse come to an agreement on the major issues:

• On pursuing a divorce
• On child custody arrangements, including parental decision-making responsibilities, primary custody, visitation schedules, and child support
• On the division of marital property and debts
• On spousal support

If you and your divorcing spouse are able to come to an agreement on these major hurdles, you are well on your way to hammering out an uncontested divorce that will likely save you time, money, and heartache in the long run. This does not, however, mean that you should settle for less than you are entitled to expedite the process. A knowledgeable Houston divorce lawyer will help you find your best path forward.

Please read the following articles on uncontested divorces in Texas for more in-depth discussions:

How is property divided in a Texas divorce?

While you may believe that divorce means that you’ll split everything down the middle, it doesn’t work quite that way in Texas. Instead, the court will determine a division of your community property that is “just and right.” In other words, the court has a good deal of discretion in the matter and can take a variety of issues into consideration:

• Who is at fault in the divorce (even though Texas is a no-fault divorce state, fault can play a role)
• If there is disparity in earning potential
• If there is disparity in separate property
• Each spouse’s physical health and condition
• Either spouse’s unusual spending

The fact is that the court’s determination of what is “just and right” could vary considerably from your own. Besides issues related to child custody concerns, however, the division of property is typically the most hotly contested component of any divorce. Work closely with your Houston divorce lawyer to help ensure that your rights are well protected regarding property division.

How is community property determined in Texas?

Texas, being a community property state, generally considers anything you acquire as a married couple – no matter whose name is on it – to be community property. Property that either of you obtained prior to your marriage (or that you received via gift or inheritance during your marriage) is generally considered separate property that won’t be factored into the division of community property in your divorce.

How long does it take to obtain a Texas divorce?

It’s impossible to know at the outset exactly how long it will take to obtain your Texas divorce, but you must wait a mandatory minimum of 60 days after filing before you are eligible to appear before the court and finalize your divorce. This time frame, however, can be deceptive – unless you and your divorcing spouse are in agreement on all of the major divorce issues, which is often easier said than done.

If You Have Questions about Divorce in Texas, Look No Further than an Experienced Houston Divorce Attorney

If you are facing a Texas divorce, you are bound to have questions, but the dedicated legal team at Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., is here to help. Our experienced divorce attorneys have the skill, knowledge, and compassion to help ensure that your best interests are protected throughout the divorce process. For more information, please fill out an online evaluation using the “Contact Us” link in the menu or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

Spousal Maintenance and Alimony Texas Divorce

Texas Divorce and Spousal Maintenance

If you are considering – or are facing – a divorce in Texas, you no doubt have many concerns. Divorce is often overwhelming, and finding the best path forward can be exceedingly difficult. Typically, child custody and financial concerns represent a divorcing couples’ primary sticking points, and these financial concerns often include the prospect of spousal maintenance. Many people have misconceptions when it comes to spousal maintenance, so it helps to understand the basics.

For an overview of the divorce process, please read:

Texas Divorce: The Basics

Spousal Maintenance

In the State of Texas, what other states refer to as alimony or spousal support is known as spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance represents money that the higher earner in the couple pays the lower earner as a means of financial support. Spousal maintenance, however, is not a given in a Texas divorce. Instead, Texas has statutory requirements that must be met before spousal maintenance applies. In other words, spousal maintenance in Texas is probably less common than you think.

The Court’s Consideration

When it comes to determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate in a specific divorce, the court takes a variety of factors into consideration:

• You and your spouse’s assets and incomes
• You and your spouse’s employment histories and earning capacities
• How long you and your spouse were married
• You and your spouse’s ages and general physical and mental health
• You and your spouse’s separate abilities to provide for your own basic needs
• Whether you or your spouse committed adultery during your marriage
• Whether you or your spouse has a history of spousal or child abuse
• Whether you or your spouse contributed to the other’s education or the other’s increased earning potential
• Whether you or your spouse will be required to pay child support and if that payment will affect the payor’s ability to afford his or her own basic needs

There’s a lot to consider, and the court has considerable discretion when it comes to the determination of spousal support. An experienced Houston family law attorney will help you better understand what is most likely to happen within your unique divorce circumstances. The outcome of your divorce is likely to affect your finances well into the future, and your rights are far too important to leave to chance; consult with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer today.

Factors Closely Associated with Spousal Maintenance

To qualify for spousal maintenance, you (or your spouse) must be able to show that you have insufficient income and/or property to provide for your basic needs. There are additional factors, however, that – in tandem with this inability – are likely to require spousal maintenance:

• If your marriage lasted ten years or longer and if you, as the lower earner, cannot provide for your own basic needs
• If you are the lower earner and you are unable to provide for yourself because of a physical or mental disability
• If you are the lower earner and you have custody of your shared child who has a physical or mental disability which precludes you from forging financial independence
• If your spouse is the higher earner and he or she was convicted of committing family violence against either you or your children in the two years prior to filing for divorce

Even if spousal maintenance is ordered by the court, it is typically set for a specific amount of time that usually spans no more than 5 to 10 years, which is calculated in relation to the length of the marriage and other pertinent facts. The exception to this rule is when the lower earner has a physical or mental disability that keeps him or her back or when the lower earner has custody of the couple’s disabled child. Generally, the court is motivated to order spousal maintenance for the shortest amount of time that is reasonable.

Your Basic Needs Assessed

When the court looks at your (or your divorcing spouse’s) ability to cover your own basic needs, it looks at what kind of financial assistance you will need in the future to live on your own and to cover your basic needs. This determination will focus on several basic standards:

• Your food, clothing, and shelter needs
• The aptitude and ability you have to earn income
• Your monthly expenditures

Every divorce, like every marriage, is unique to its own specific circumstances, and the court will carefully consider the details attendant to yours in determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate.

The Duration of Spousal Maintenance in Texas

When the court orders spousal maintenance, it employs specific parameters that limit the maximum amount and duration. Again, spousal maintenance is awarded for an unlimited period only in very specific circumstances. There are prescribed limitations based on how long your marriage lasted:

• If you were married for at least ten years but no more than 20 years, the maximum period of spousal maintenance is five years.
• If you were married for 20 to 30 years, the maximum period of spousal maintenance is seven years.
• If you were married for 30 or more years, the maximum period of spousal maintenance is ten years.

Again, these are the maximum time periods allowable by law (outside of the exceptions identified above). The court need not, however, award maintenance for the maximum time period allowable. Again, the court is generally motivated to award the shortest reasonable period of spousal maintenance.

The Amount of Spousal Support in Texas

The court is also bound by specific parameters regarding the maximum amount of spousal maintenance to be awarded. Spousal maintenance cannot exceed 20 percent of the payor’s average gross monthly income, and it must be capped at $5,000 per month.

If You Have Questions about Spousal Maintenance, Consult with an Experienced Houston Family Law Attorney Today

If you are facing the Texas divorce process, you very likely have plenty of concerns related to your post-divorce financial future. There are a lot of misconceptions about spousal maintenance out there, but the dedicated legal team at Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston will help you better understand the likelihood that spousal maintenance will play a role in your divorce. Our experienced divorce attorneys have the skill, knowledge, and compassion to advocate for your best interests throughout the divorce process. We’re here to help, so please fill out an online evaluation using the “Contact Us” link in the menu or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

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