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Overcoming Divorce Depression

When you first decided to get divorced, you were beyond ready to break free from your marriage and move on with your life. After the divorce petition was filed, you and your spouse went back and forth over how you would handle the family home, the kids, and your finances. You thought this tug-and-war experience would never end. You were exhausted.

Fast forward to today, and things are very different. The dust from your divorce has settled. The kids are living with your ex-spouse, who has been granted custody of them. And your new apartment is so quiet you could hear a pin drop in it. 

This is life at 35. And it’s not how it was supposed to be.

The truth, though, is that life doesn’t always happen as planned. And for many people who experience marital breakups, divorce depression is, unfortunately, a real problem. 

Here’s a rundown on how you can deal with this type of depression following a divorce proceeding in Texas. 

How You Might Feel When You Have Divorce Depression

When you break up with your spouse, the loss you experience may be comparable to what you’d feel after losing a family member or friend. After all, divorce signifies the end of a marriage and thus dashed dreams and hopes.

Here’s a look at a few symptoms of divorce depression you might experience after going through divorce

  • Being unable to sleep
  • Overeating or lacking an appetite
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Feeling suicidal
  • Constantly thinking about death
  • Being uninterested in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling indifferent or pessimistic
  • Feeling restless and anxious
  • Feeling irritable and angry
  • Constantly struggling with negative thoughts
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Drinking alcohol and using drugs excessively
  • Struggling with unusual pains and aches
  • Feeling fatigued

Although having these feelings following a divorce is not abnormal, you should see a physician if you begin to experience four or more of the abovementioned symptoms daily for an extended period. That’s because lingering divorce depression may be causing them.

When people experience deaths in their families, it is common for others to offer them support. This type of support is usually absent, however, when a person is divorced. So, in this situation, it’s critical that you seek out support yourself.

Be Grateful 

One of the best moves you can make when dealing with divorce depression is to practice being grateful for what you do have despite the divorce. In other words, it’s imperative that you actively attempt to find things to be joyful about. For instance, you can be grateful to hear the birds sing, or you can show gratitude for the close friend who’s been there for you through thick and thin.

Along these lines, it’s a wise idea to give yourself the chance to experience life’s simple pleasures. For instance, you can take time to read an encouraging book, or enjoy sunshine, or bake your favorite dessert. Aromatherapy can also help you to feel better; in fact, rose oil remains a popular essential oil for naturally treating depression.  

Be Self-Aware When You’re Battling Divorce Depression

If you realize that certain items around your home trigger sad memories for you, it may be a good idea to get rid of them. For instance, it may be a good time to put your wedding pictures away, or you can remove your wedding ring.

In addition, now is an excellent time to start journaling if you haven’t done it before. Specifically, you should focus on keeping track of when you start to feel depressed. For instance, maybe the evening hours trigger your sorrow. As soon as you uncover a pattern, start doing something new and enjoyable during the time of day when your divorce depression symptoms are most pronounced. 

Also, when you do end up feeling a little down, keep reminding yourself that it’s your choice to be joyful. You may not feel happy at first, but over time, you’ll see your attitude change for the better.

Look Outside of Yourself When You’re Struggling with Divorce Depression

Let’s say you’re feeling especially overwhelmed with sorrowful feelings following your divorce. A smart way of combating these feelings is to focus on helping other people. This will help you to take your mind off your own situation. 

For example, when you’re battling divorce depression, give someone else a compliment, or do a favor for a neighbor or friend. Brightening somebody else’s day has a funny way of brightening your own day, too.

Limit Your Sadness When Struggling with Divorce Depression

Perhaps your divorce depression continues to be heavy no matter how hard you try to overcome it. In this scenario, it may behoove you to set aside between 15 and 30 minutes per day to let yourself feel sorrowful. If you start to feel sad outside of this block of time, remind yourself to save it for that allotted time slot. Then, when it’s time, let yourself feel sad with no restrictions. 

Afterward, emphasize to yourself that you can feel miserable again the next day during your time slot. You eventually won’t need the time slot as you get farther from your divorce date.

Tackle Your Divorce Proceeding with Confidence Now!

All in all, yes, divorce can be a pain, as it can lead to divorce depression along with financial challenges, for instance. However, it can also be a very positive stepping stone in your life, leading you to an even better stage of life.

At Ramos Law Group, PLLC, we understand how difficult divorce can be in Texas. That’s why we’re passionate about guiding you through the process and making it as simple and painless for you as possible. For instance, we can help you to take advantage of divorce mediation or collaboration, which is generally less hostile, costly, and stressful than traditional divorce litigation.

Get in touch with us today to find out how we can protect your best interests long term during your divorce proceeding. 

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A common misperception about the divorce process is that it is an expensive and lengthy process. While this may be the case for a contentious divorce, uncontested divorce, that is, a divorce by agreement in Texas, can be quick and relatively painless.

The Process of an Uncontested Divorce by Agreement

To begin the uncontested divorce process, a party must first file an Original Petition for Divorce and pay the required fees associated with the filing. This document is what initiates the divorce process. It results in the divorce action being assigned a specific court and cause number, under which all subsequent documents or pleadings will be filed. All Original Petitions for Divorce include similar information: the name of the parties, the dates of marriage and separation, information relating to any children born during the marriage, specific requests relating to child issues, division of property and any other relief requested.

Mandatory Waiting Period

Texas has a mandatory waiting period from the time an Original Petition for Divorce is filed to when the divorce can be granted by a court. So even if both parties are in total agreement on all divorce issues (including property and children), they must wait sixty days from the date the Original Petition is filed. This mandatory waiting period can be waived in very specific instances, but the majority of cases must wait until the sixty-first day after filing to finalize an agreed divorce.

Divorce Paperwork

In a contested divorce, the party who files for divorce must have the other party served with the divorce paperwork (the Original Petition for Divorce and any notices of hearings) by a private process server or law enforcement officer. An uncontested divorce does away with this service requirement. The responding party only needs to file a document called a “Waiver of Service.” This document includes several key assertions that the court requires.

Requirements of a Waiver of Service

  • Acknowledges receipt of the Original Petition for Divorce
  • Includes specific provisions protecting interests in children and property
  • Provides the court with the party’s contact information (including physical address, phone number, and email address)
  • Is a notarized document

The purpose of this document is to show the court that the responding party is aware a divorce suit is pending, that the responding party has received and reviewed the Original Petition for Divorce, that party does not want to be personally served, they are providing the court with their contact information and directs a court whether the divorce can be finalized without the responding party being personally present. The waiver must be notarized to prove to the court the responding party personally signed it after verifying their identity.

The next document that will need to be drafted and signed by the parties is the Final Decree of Divorce. While the Original Petition for Divorce requests certain relief, the Final Decree of Divorce is the document that the judge will sign and includes all agreements reached in the divorce. This can include the following:

  • Property – Any and all property acquired during the marriage will be divided in the Final Decree of Divorce. This includes real property, personal property, and furnishings, jewelry, retirement accounts, cash on hand, etc. The items will be listed and awarded to the spouses in the decree. The decree can also include language about the sale of property or how proceeds/funds will be divided as part of the divorce. Any property that a spouse owned prior to marriage will be confirmed as that spouse’s separate property.

    Since Texas is a community property state, even the shortest of marriages accrue community property. Almost all judges require that Final Divorce Decrees divide assets and debts by specifically awarding those items, even if the parties kept their accounts separate during the marriage and nothing really needs to be divided.

  • Children – The Final Decree of Divorce will need to address certain provisions relating to children of the marriage. This will include rights and duties, access and possession, child support, medical support, and other miscellaneous provisions such as passports or electronic communication.

    Some amicable parties may be reluctant to include specific child provisions because they want to co-parent by agreement after divorce rather than following specific schedules or rules. While the Texas family courts applaud a couple’s desire to informally co-parent, a Final Decree of Divorce must include a specific possession schedule and language about child support and medical support. The parties are free to disregard the specific provisions and co-parent as they see fit, but the Decree must include certain language for the divorce to be finalized.

  • Other Agreements – The Final Decree of Divorce may have other miscellaneous provisions, such as injunctions, post-divorce spousal support, change of name, tax language or other items. Each Final Decree of Divorce is specifically drafted for a divorcing couple so no two Final Decrees are the same.

Once the Final Decree of Divorce has been drafted and signed off on by the parties, it will need to be filed with the assigned court. This document does not need to be notarized by both spouses who will need to sign it.

Additional Documents

There are other documents that may need to be drafted and filed depending on the case. These may include:

  • Qualified Domestic Relations Order, which divides retirement accounts
  • Special Warranty Deed and Deed of Trust to Secure Assumption, which address title and ownership of real property that is awarded to a spouse in the divorce
  • Child Support Order and Medical Support Order, which are signed by the judge and filed with the state to effectuate payment of child support and medical support coverage
  • BVS Form, which includes basic identifying details about the case and is filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics

There may be other forms that are required, so speak with a licensed Texas attorney to confirm what documents are needed for your specific case.

The Prove Up

Once all the appropriate documents have been filed with the Court, the filing party will need to appear in front of the assigned judge to do what is called a prove up. This is a short testimony to the court affirming the provisions of the Final Decree of Divorce, asserting that no one is pregnant, all children and property of the marriage have been properly addressed within the decree, and that a divorce is requested. The party may also testify about a requested name change being done to revert to a maiden name (rather than for nefarious purposes such as avoidance of criminal prosecution).

The prove up is short and painless. Most courts only require one party appear, but double check with your legal team as different courts have different requirements. Once the judge has heard the prove up testimony, they will approve the agreements, grant the divorce and sign the Final Decree of Divorce.

When the Divorce Goes into Effect

After the judge has signed the decree, a certified copy may be obtained for purposes of changing a party’s name or effectuating change in beneficiaries or other property concerns. The divorce will be effective upon the date of the judge signing the Final Decree. It is important to remember that there is a mandatory thirty day period from the date the divorce is granted until a new marriage may be entered into, so if you are hoping to enter into a new marriage while your divorce is pending, make sure to discuss that with your legal counsel.

Start with a Call to a Family Law Attorney

All of the above can be done quickly and efficiently if the parties are in total agreement on divorce issues. It can be done even more quickly and efficiently if represented by a competent Texas family law attorney. The legal team at the Ramos Law Group, PLLC is well-versed in uncontested divorces and has the knowledge and experience to guide a Texas resident through the uncontested divorce process.

Contact our team today to discuss handling your uncontested divorce and answer any questions about the process you may have.

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You are getting ready to go through the divorce process, and you already feel a range of emotions. On the one hand, you feel a sense of relief. On the other hand, you’re worried about how the divorce process will impact your finances.

Here, we’ve prepared insight on divorce and taxes: How exactly will your divorce impact your tax situation in the state of Texas?

Here’s a rundown on how your marital breakup will affect you tax-wise, and what you need to do to make sure that the tax filing process is as smooth as possible following your divorce.

Taxes What Is Your Filing Status When You Get a Divorce and Then File Taxes?

This is one of the most common divorce tax questions that people ask once their “I do” turns into “I don’t.” Once you have finalized your divorce, you can no longer file your taxes with the federal government using the “married filing jointly” and “married filing separately” statuses. Instead, you’ll have to choose “head of household” or “single” based on your situation.

If you divorce and file taxes as the head of your household, this provides major benefits versus filing as a single individual. For instance, you can take a larger standard deduction, and you’ll also be eligible for some helpful tax credits. In addition, your tax rate will be lower. However, to file as the head of your household, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have an individual—or “qualifying person”—live with you half of the year; alternatively, this person must meet other requirements, like being absent temporarily for certain reasons. Examples of such qualifying individuals may include children who are going to school, parents who don’t necessarily reside with you but are receiving support from you, and married children whom you are claiming as dependents.
  • You cover half of the cost of maintaining a household.
  • You are not legally married as of the last day of the year that you’re filing your tax return for.

Note that when you are divorced and then subsequently file taxes, you and the other party cannot both choose to file as the head of the household, as you’re sharing in the responsibilities of caring for and supporting your shared children. Only if you are the parent who has primary physical custody of the children can you treat your children as qualifying individuals and enjoy the status of being the head of the household.

Also, let’s say that you and the other parent are splitting your time with the children equally. If your adjusted gross income happens to be higher, you have the right to claim the children as qualifying individuals.

How Do You Handle Child Support & Alimony When You Get a Divorce and Then File Your Taxes?

This is another one of the most frequently asked divorce tax questions in Texas. To answer this question, you’ll first need to take a look at your divorce decree. It may be written within the decree that you’ve agreed to make spousal maintenance or child support payments to your ex, or maybe you’ll be the one receiving these payments.

If you finalize your divorce in 2019 or later and then file taxes, and if you’re the one paying spousal maintenance, you can no longer deduct your spousal maintenance thanks to the United States’ most recent tax reform. However, if you’re receiving spousal maintenance, the good news is that you aren’t required to include these payments as part of the income you’re being taxed on.

When it comes to dealing with child support after you divorce and file your taxes, child support has never been treated as tax deductible for the person paying it, and the same remains true under the recent tax reform.

Claiming Dependents after You Get a Divorce and File Your Taxes

Yet another one of the most commonly posed divorce tax questions is who can claim dependents during tax filing season.

The truth is, only one part can claim the children as dependents, and as mentioned earlier, this is usually the parent who is given custody. However, if you have custody of the children you share with your ex-spouse, you have the option of giving your ex the right to claim your children as dependents instead. This is possible by completing and signing Form 8332, which the other party must file with his or her taxes.

Who claims the children as his or her dependents when you divorce and file taxes is an important question because, as mentioned earlier, you get to file as the head of your household if you claim your children as dependents. Also, you can take advantage of various tax credits as well as other deductions when your children are your dependents. These include the following:

  • Child credit, worth $2,000 for each child
  • Earned income credit
  • Credit for dependent care and child care expenses
  • American opportunity credit for any qualified education expense

Protect Your Financial Best Interests When Divorcing and Filing Your Taxes Today!

When you decide to get a divorce and file your taxes, you may understandably be overwhelmed by what to do and thus having a number of divorce tax questions. After all, filing your taxes is complicated enough without adding a divorce filing to the mix. However, the experts at the Ramos Law Group can help you to make sure that your tax filing process is a smooth one following your divorce.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about what tax filing status would be appropriate in your situation. We’ll also show you how you should handle spousal maintenance, child support, and claiming children as dependents based on your unique circumstances in the state of Texas.

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Divorce hurts. It can be damaging emotionally, psychologically, financially, and any number of other ways. As painful as the divorce process is, life will go on without your ex-spouse. Here at Ramos Law Group, we have prepared advice on steps you can take to ensure that you experience recovery from your divorce as quickly and easily as possible.

Here are a few tips for navigating the various stages of divorce recovery with confidence so that you are in the best position financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally long term.

Financial Divorce Recovery Tips

Your finances may understandably be one of your biggest areas of concern when it comes to recovering from your marital breakup. One of the most important steps you can take to protect your financial status post-divorce is to avoid living beyond your means.

To do this, you’ll first need to create a new budget based on your new household income following your divorce. Making the transition from a two-earner household to a one-earner household, where you are the sole breadwinner, can be quite a shock to your system. This is especially true if you’ve got legal fees, credit cards, a mortgage, and education expenses on top of your utilities and other regular expenses.

The sooner you create an accurate budget, the more quickly you can adopt new and responsible spending habits. And the better off you’ll be long term. After all, even though living within a budget may not necessarily feel fun and freeing per se, living beyond your budget will only bring you more stress and financial bondage down the road.

Look at Your Portfolio during Your Financial Divorce Recovery Process

In addition to revamping your budget as part of your stages of divorce recovery, it’s a good idea to also take a good look at your investment portfolio. That’s because you may need to update your portfolio and your asset allocation overall based on your post-divorce financial situation as well as your long-term monetary goals.

Remember that in addition to updating your investments during the divorce recovery process, you’ll need to adjust your portfolio if you end up switching careers, re-marrying, purchasing a new house, addressing a medical crisis, or entering retirement. A financial advisor can help you to make sure that your asset allocation is in alignment with your current time horizon, objectives, and risk tolerance.

Physical Divorce Recovery Tips

Taking care of your physical condition is another important step among the stages of divorce recovery. You can do this first by getting regular exercise. You don’t necessarily need to be a gym member, as simply going for a walk each day can be immensely beneficial to your health. You can also dance, do yoga, or go swimming if you prefer these forms of exercise.

Exercising is such an important part of the divorce recovery process because exercise helps the body to generate endorphins, feel-good chemicals in the brain. Exercise also boosts self-confidence, enhances your sleep, and decreases symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.

If possible, try to work out with a friend or family member who can serve as your accountability partner. With his or help, you may find yourself motivated to exercise rather than lounge around from one evening to the next.

Divorce Recovery Should Also Involve Improved Eating Habits

Working out time and time again won’t help you to stay healthy in the long run if you also don’t watch your eating habits following your divorce. The truth is, if you’re feeling sad about your divorce, it’s easy for you to either gain weight or lose weight depending on how you respond to stress.

For instance, if you tend to overeat when you’re feeling stressed, you may find yourself gaining 100 pounds in the aftermath of your divorce. Meanwhile, if stress typically takes away your appetite, you may lose 50 pounds.

As a general rule of thumb, try to eat three wholesome meals per day. Also, try to combine carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Doing this will help you to stabilize your blood sugar and thus prevent dips that can lead to unwanted cravings.

In addition, avoid consuming excessive amounts of alcohol or caffeine, salty foods, artificial ingredients, and sweets. The good news about eating healthier following your divorce is that it can affect your mood in a positive way. Like exercise, healthy foods can ease depression as well as calm anxiety. If you drink lots of water as well, this can further decrease your stress hormones.

Mental and Emotional Divorce Recovery Steps

Feeling grieved following divorce is normal, but you can take steps to protect yourself mentally and emotionally post-divorce as well.

For example, consider joining a support group, which can help you to more confidently navigate the divorce recovery process. Through this type of group, you can receive encouragement and education from other people who are also going through a divorce.

Counseling and psychotherapy and also help, as you can vent your emotions to a therapist who is trained to listen to you and to provide you with invaluable guidance regarding managing your stress, self-defeated thinking, and grief.

Protect Your Best Interests As You Go through the Divorce Recovery Process

Divorce is never an easy ordeal to get through financially, physically, or emotionally, even if you were married for a relatively short time. However, going through these stages of divorce recovery can help you to bounce back from your divorce as quickly as possible.

Get in touch with us at Ramos Law Group to find out more about how we can help you through the divorce recovery process. With our help, you can be well on your way to living your best life following even the most difficult of divorces.

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The process of divorce is difficult at any age or circumstance. However, it can be especially intimidating later in life. The more knowledge you have about how your divorce will affect Social Security benefits, the better prepared you’ll be for your retirement years following a marital breakup in Texas.

Here’s a glimpse at how divorce may affect your Social Security benefits in the years ahead.

What to Expect from Social Security Following Your Divorce

So, you’ve just gotten a divorce, and you’re wondering how this will impact Social Security for you.

To begin with, understand that you won’t be able to draw Social Security benefits on your ex-spouse’s work record unless you were married for at least 10 years. Even if your marriage came to an end three decades ago, you can still collect from your ex-spouse’s benefits as long as your marriage lasted a decade or more.

Both your ex-spouse and you need to be 62 years of age or older before you claim benefits as an ex-spouse. In addition, your divorce must have taken place at least two years ago before you can begin collecting under the umbrella of your ex’s benefits.

How Much Will You Receive in Retirement Benefits When You Divorce and Then Seek Social Security?

If you’re allowed to collect Social Security benefits after divorce based on your ex’s eligibility, your benefit amount will be 50% of the amount that your ex is to receive at his or her full retirement age. However, this is true only if you claim the benefit at your full retirement age. You can certainly claim your benefits at age 62, but you’ll receive less than 50% of what you’d get at your full retirement age, also known as your FRA.

Keep in mind that you won’t get your ex-spouse’s benefits based on their historical wages if it’s lower than what you’d get based on your own employment history.

What If You Remarry?

Perhaps you got a divorce and are seeking Social Security, but have remarried. In this situation, you’re not an ex-spouse any longer from the perspective of Social Security. As a result, you will receive your retirement benefit based on the work history of your current spouse rather than your ex-spouse’s. This is true no matter which party has a bigger benefit amount at his or her full retirement age.

Let’s say, though, that the person you married the second time around passes away or divorces you. In this case, you can actually claim benefits based on whoever has the higher benefit amount.

Following Divorce, Can Your Ex Impact Your Social Security Benefit?

One of your biggest concerns when it comes to divorce and Social Security may be how your ex-spouse might affect your retirement benefits. The truth is, there’s no way that your benefits will be denied or reduced if an ex decides to claim benefits in a particular way. In other words, whatever your ex does from a Social Security standpoint has no bearing on your benefit amount.

When you’re ready to pursue your retirement benefits, you can simply visit your local Social Security Administration office to get the process started. Just be sure to bring with you documents proving your divorce and marriage. The office will then explore what your retirement benefit options are, and you can choose the route that will yield the greatest benefit.

Do You Need to Discuss Your Social Security Benefits Claiming Plan with an Ex-Spouse Following Divorce?

Another major concern you may have when dealing with divorce and Social Security is having to communicate with your ex-spouse about your intentions to claim benefits from their Social Security record. The reality is, you do not need your ex-spouse’s permission to collect benefits stemming from their Social Security eligibility.

As long as you meet the government’s requirements for receiving benefits based on the record of an ex-spouse, you will receive the benefits due to you. And that’s true even if the length of your marriage to that ex is a lot shorter than the number of years you’ve been divorced. Also, the Social Security Administration will not tell your ex that you are drawing your benefits on his or her record.

When Should You Pursue Your Social Security Benefit Using the Record of Your Ex Following Divorce?

So, when exactly is a good time to retire and seek Social Security benefits on your ex’s record following your divorce? The answer to this question all depends on your personal view of how long you’ll live.

If you’re an active and healthy person in general, or if your relatives are known to live into their 90s, you likely need to prepare to spend between two and three decades in retirement. In this case, it may behoove you to wait longer to collect Social Security, as you’ll get a larger monthly payment amount based on your personal wage record.

As mentioned earlier, note that if you divorce and you’re planning to claim Social Security benefits on your ex’s record, even if you hold off until your full retirement age to claim these benefits, you’ll get no more than half of the ex’s benefit amount. So, it’s important that you plan for this accordingly.

Protect Your Future with a Solid Understanding of Divorce and Social Security Today!

Navigating the process of getting a divorce can no doubt be challenging from a financial standpoint. However, dealing with both divorce and Social Security at the same time can be even more complicated. The good news is that you don’t have to figure it all out on your own.

Get in touch with us at the Ramos Law Group to find out how your marital dissolution will affect your future retirement benefits and what your best option is for maximizing these benefits when you need them.

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Your divorce may not be avoidable, but that doesn’t mean it has to feel like a fight. There are ways to amicably end your marriage: a “no contest” divorce, officially known as an uncontested divorce.

Here’s a glimpse at what a no contest divorce in Texas involves and how you can take advantage of this process.

What Exactly Is a “No Contest” Divorce?

This type of divorce is possible when you and your future ex agree on every term of the divorce. It’s the opposite of a contested divorce, where you can’t agree on one or more issues related to the divorce.

The benefit of a no contest divorce in Texas is that it is generally less stressful and less costly than going to divorce trial. This is because instead of fighting over issues in court, and thus dragging out your divorce, you and your spouse can expedite the divorce process and possibly even pay lower filing fees.

These divorce proceedings also offer the benefit of involving fewer forms that have to be completed, which further makes them simpler to navigate.

“No Contest” Divorce Requirements

An uncontested divorce may sound great so far, but there is a catch: You have to qualify for one. Let’s take a look at the various requirements you must meet before you can pursue this type of divorce proceeding.

  • Both you and the other party must not have any children together who are under the age of 18.
  • You don’t have an unresolved bankruptcy case with your spouse.
  • Neither party is seeking spousal maintenance as part of the divorce proceeding.

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Get Started with a “No Contest” Divorce

Let’s say you meet these criteria for completing an uncontested divorce. You’re off to a great start. Now, you need to meet just a few more requirements in Texas before you can officially begin the process of getting an uncontested divorce.

  • Both you and the other party must have lived in the Lone Star State for a minimum of six months.
  • You both have lived for three-plus months in the Texas county in which you’re filing for your “no contest” divorce
  • Both of you agree on every issue in the divorce, including property division, for example.

If you and the other party meet these requirements as well, then you’re an excellent candidate for an uncontested divorce in Texas. Get in touch with us at Ramos Law Group today, and let us walk you through the process. In no time, you can finalize your divorce and move on with your life.

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Business Assets In Texas Divorce

The state of Texas is home to a multitude of businesses, both large and small. Businesses are the core of Texas’ great economy. But how does a Texas court handle a business asset should a marriage dissolve?

First – Is the business part of the community estate?

Texas is a community property state. Only property, including business assets or companies, that were accrued or created during the marriage are subject to a division by a Texas divorce court. If a company or business was created prior to the date of marriage then that asset the spouse’s separate property and is not subject to any sort of division during the divorce proceeding. If the date of creation/inception of the business asset is murky, the spouse claiming it was created prior to marriage will need to provide their legal team with any relevant documents that evidence its date of creation. The burden is on the spouse claiming an asset is separate property to prove to the court that it is in fact separate property.

Second – What type of business is it?

Small companies or sole partnerships with little revenue or business assets such as equipment are often easily dealt with in a divorce settlement. If a spouse owns a sole proprietorship with minimal tools or assets of value, then the business entity and its accounts almost always go to that spouse as there is little relative value to the non-involved spouse. If a company is profitable because of the ownership or face of the company, its “goodwill value” generally goes along with the owner and there may be minimal actual property value to the company itself.

Large Business or Corporation

If the contested asset is a large business or corporation with ample assets or corporate stock, then one spouse can be awarded the entity itself while the stock is sold for liquid assets to be awarded to the other party.  For a majority of companies in a contested divorce, it will be important to obtain a business valuation. Unless it’s a publicly held company, whose value is based on its stock, it can be difficult to ascertain what a company is worth. As business valuation will compare the company to other companies in a comparative market analysis or it will examine the company’s assets, debts, existing contracts and make a determination on the company’s worth. These valuations can help the parties or the court determine the value of the company for purposes of fairly dividing the entirety of the community estate.

Rules and Limitations

Certain companies, like a franchise restaurant or chain, have ownership rules and limitations, so the parties, their legal team, and the Texas family law court will need to keep that in mind. A professional company, like an accounting firm or a physician’s office, cannot be owned by a non-licensed professional. So, the type of company may determine what limitations, if any, would be in place relating to its division in a Texas divorce.

Third – What if the business is jointly owned or both spouses are involved?

This can make an already contentious divorce even more complicated. Often times it is impossible to split the business in a way that both sides can continue to profit. The Texas family law court system does not want to derail a company’s financial prosperity by butchering its business structure. In this situation, the presiding court will do its best to come to a reasonable property division without destroying a business by dividing it. This may be done be awarding the entirety of the business to one spouse will awarding all real property and retirement to the other spouse. This can also be accomplished by ordering the spouse who is awarded the business asset to pay the other spouse their community interest in the business via a structured payment schedule.

Profitable Businesses with Strong Valuations

If the business is profitable and has value (that is not specifically attached to one of the spouses like a CPA or medical professional) then it may be easiest for the business to be sold and the proceeds split between the parties. This helps the court to avoid determining which spouse “deserves” the company and is an easy way to fairly split the business proceeds.

Considering Joint Ownership

Some Texas businesses are run by amicable spouses that have no desire to change the business structure or award the entirety of a business asset to one spouse in the divorce. Can a divorced couple continue to jointly own an operate a business? The answer is yes, but typically only if the parties both expressly desire this and believe it will work in the long run. A Texas family court does not want to force parties who have no desire to remain married to one another to remain as business parties. If a party requests in their divorce pleadings that the business asset or entity be split, a Texas family court will likely do that. But if the parties are amicable and believe they can harmoniously continue to operate the community property asset, then a court may award each party a fifty percent ownership stake in the entity. Once the divorce is finalized, any subsequent business decisions, such as selling ownership share, would be handled like any other jointly-held business interest.

To learn how business assets are handled in a Texas Divorce, Contact Us Today!

As one can see from above, there are a multitude of ways that a Texas court can divide business assets in a divorce. Each case is unique and comes with its own complications, so it is important to meet with a licensed Texas attorney who has experience in valuing and dividing business assets during the divorce process. The team at the Ramos Law Group, PLLC has experience handling all sorts of business entities and assets and can review your circumstances and assist you in formulating a strategy.

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Guide To Divorce In Texas

Today’s business owners are not the mom and pop type of yesterday. They must be business savvy, up on market trends and vigilant about their social media presence. A divorce can have a devastating effect on a thriving business if not handled correctly. A business owner contemplating a divorce in Texas should consider the following items before beginning the divorce process.

Community v. Separate Property

The first concern for any Texas business owner is to determine the characterization of any company. If the company was created or purchased prior to the date of marriage, or if it was inherited during the marriage, then it is considered separate property and is not subject to division during a Texas divorce. The spouse that owns that separate property must provide documentation evidencing that it was either inherited or created prior to the date of marriage, so a business owner will need to provide to their legal team documents evidencing the business’ date of inception.

If the company or business was created after the date of marriage, then it would be considered community property. This means that the entirety of the business (including assets, revolving contracts, bank accounts, equipment, etc) will need to be divided in the divorce.

There are circumstances where a business can be both community and separate property. For example, a person may have owned an interest in a business prior to marriage and after the marriage bought out a partner. This would result in a portion of the business clearly being one spouse’s separate property while the other ownership interest would be subject to a just and right division by the court.

Business Valuation

A major question for any business owner going through a Texas divorce is probably “what is my business worth?” If the company or business is part of the community estate, it is vital that an accurate

There are several methods of determining the value of a business entity. Any method or combination of methods may be used to calculate the value of a business entity. There is no required formula

  1. Fair Market Value – this is the value based on what a buyer would be willing to pay in cash to acquire the business.
  2. Book Value – this number is calculated by reviewing the finances and accounts of the business. This number is not always the most accurate as it only reviews a snapshot of the existing finances and does not account for growth.
  3. Comparative Market Analysis – this value is calculated in a similar manner to real estate comps. The business valuation expert will compare the business to similar types of businesses that have recently sold and estimate what the business in question will sell for.

As one can imagine, the above business valuation methods can have a range of different estimated values. This is why it is important to hire a knowledgeable business valuator who has experience in the market and type of business. If the value of the business is contested, both spouses may hire their own expert valuators and can present their dueling values at trial. The judge will then hear all the evidence and expert’s testimony and determine the value for purposes of property division.

Business Operation During the Divorce Process

A savvy business owner is going to want to make sure the day-to-day operations of the business entity are not negatively affected during the pendency of the divorce. Warring spouses can have a negative effect on the operations of a business, including mishandling of bank accounts and income, canceling accounts, harassing employees or other damaging actions. If the parties cannot mutually agree as to how the business runs and income is split during the divorce process, the court may need to issue some temporary orders. These can include injunctions prohibiting the harmful actions listed above, directions as to who handles the books and has access to the bank accounts. These agreements or orders from the court can keep the business running as usual until it is formally divided or awarded to one spouse.

Additional Concerns

There may be other specific business concerns that will need to be addressed. These can include:

  1. Are there additional owners to consider?
  2. Does the business have a buy-sell agreement in place that would prohibit a sale or awarding part of the business?
  3. How is the business structured? If an LLC, there could be procedural concerns with the articles of incorporation.
  4. Mixing business expenses with personal expenses. This could have an effect on the spouse’s income for child support calculation purposes.
  5. Is it a professional business such as a law firm or medical practice? Professionally-licensed businesses typically cannot be sold or awarded to an unlicensed spouse.

How a business entity is handled in a Texas divorce can be complicated and it is important for a business owner to make sure their divorce case is in the most capable hands. The Ramos Law Group, PLLC has handled a multitude of divorces involving business entities. The legal team has experience with business valuations, large corporations, small sole partnerships, and embittered spouses warring over the running of a business. Any Texas business owner contemplating a divorce should contact our firm to discuss strategy and long-term goals for the business.

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Top Five Divorce Tips For Business Owner

1. Don’t Wait

Divorce is NOT fun. It can be a lengthy, emotional and expensive process. Many Texas residents find themselves dragging their feet despite the fact the marriage is clearly over. This may be to avoid hurting the children, to prolong a nasty property fight or any other number of reasons. While burying one’s head in the sand may seem like the path of least resistance, it can actually complicate the divorce process in the long run.

Texas is a community property state so all assets or debts that were acquired during the marriage are subject to a just and right division by the Texas divorce court. This means that any growth in the business, increased revenue and income, bonuses paid by the business to the owner or other financial windfalls are a community asset. If a business expands to multiple locations or has other types of growth, that can make an otherwise simple divorce proceeding more complicated.

Even if a Texas business owner is not ready to initiate a divorce proceeding, if there are marital troubles at hand it would be wise to consult with a licensed Texas family law attorney who can review the business structure and other marital assets and then provide legal counsel as to how to best protect those assets should a divorce be filed.

2. Keep Excellent Records

When property is contested during a divorce, the cornerstone to successful settlement negotiations or trial is having excellent records. Many Texas businesses are sole proprietorships or small companies that may not employ a fulltime accounting firm or keep diligent records.

There are several facets of accounting that will be relevant to a divorce proceeding.

  1. Value of the business – If a business or company is community property, the entity itself and its value will be subject to division during the divorce. There are several methods of determining a business’ value, but all require a proper accounting of the business. This is not limited to the amount of money in a business’ bank account. This includes outstanding invoices, revolving contracts, the value of company assets or equipment, monthly expenses and more. Even a contractor has tools or items of the trade that need to be valued. If a Texas business owner is purchasing items for the business, it can be helpful to keep track of all assets and business investments.
  2. Income – If child support is also an issue to be addressed during a divorce, then the business-owning spouse will need to be able to prove what their exact income is and will need proper documentation. As discussed below, this can be complicated if the business is paying for personal expenses for its owner (such as cell phones or meals) because those items can be considered “deemed income.”

If child support is going to be requested, the easiest way to determine income is if the business pays its owner weekly/bi-weekly/monthly paychecks. Then that spouse’s net monthly income can be easily determined for child support calculation purposes. If a business owner “pays” himself by bank account transfers or cash, it can quickly become convoluted and complicate the divorce process. If at all possible, a Texas business owner should use an accounting firm or cut himself regular checks marked as income to have solid records for income reporting purposes.

 3. Don’t Mix Personal and Business Expenses

Texas business owners often use their business accounts to pay for things such as cell phones, vehicles, meals, clothing and even rent/mortgage on their house if it is a home-based business. And in many cases, all of those are reasonable and necessary business expenses and it is perfectly acceptable for the business to bear the brunt of those expenses.

During a divorce however, using company funds to pay personal expenses can cause the financial picture to get murky. Using a business account as a personal piggy bank can complicate the child support calculation process, the business valuation numbers or spousal support to be awarded.

4. Get a Post-Marital Agreement if Possible

A pre-marital agreement or a post-marital agreement can help facilitate a quick resolution to any property disputes. If the parties did not execute a pre-marital agreement prior to the marriage, then a post-marital agreement can be a great option to designate how the parties will handle a community-property business asset in the event of a divorce.

A post-marital agreement can designate a business as one spouse’s separate property or the spouses can agree how to divide a specific asset. A post-marital agreement must be fully agreed to and executed to be valid and enforceable and not all spouses may be comfortable with the idea of planning for a divorce. If it is an option, it can save legal headaches down the road. A Texas business owner should consult with a licensed family law attorney to discuss the possibility of entering into such an agreement.

5. Hire Experienced Legal Counsel

 As outlined above, owning a business while going through a Texas divorce can add another layer of complexity to the divorce process. There can be several financial concerns, including several that may have federal tax implications, that need to be addressed. Hiring an experienced Texas family law attorney, like the legal team at the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, can ensure all facets relating to a business are confidently handled. That will allow a Texas business owner to continue to devote the majority of their time and attention to their family and their business while their legal team can handle the rest.

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Hidden Assets in a Texas Divorce

Whenever a person is going through a divorce, it is often their main goal to obtain the best property division possible. This can help the healing process and set that person up for success in the next chapter of their life. Unfortunately, many people find that while going through a Texas divorce, their spouse may have been hiding assets throughout their marriage or are attempting to hide assets now that a divorce is pending.

It is vital to find an experienced family law attorney licensed in Texas who has a background in successfully finding hidden assets and getting the best property award for their client. The Ramos Law Group and its team of legal specialists are skilled at knowing what to look for and identifying hidden assets. What considerations are there when thinking about hidden assets in a Texas divorce?

First, a quick refresher on community property. As Texas is a community property state, any and all assets that were earned during the duration of the marriage are subject to a just and right division in a divorce. This does not include any items that are separate property, such as items owned prior to marriage or items received through a gift or inheritance. This article is assuming any “hidden assets” are community property and should be divided by a divorce court.

Discovery and Disclosures

There are a couple ways the parties are required to disclose assets in a divorce proceeding:

  1. Local Disclosures – For example, the Harris County family court system requires that parties disclose paychecks, tax returns, bank statements, and a sworn inventory and appraisement by a certain date. A sworn inventory and appraisement is a notarized/verified document that is supposed to contain an accounting of ALL property, including all assets and debts, with supporting documents showing current statements. Should the divorce matter go to trial, the trial judge will rely on the parties’ inventories when making a final property division.
  1. Written Discovery – The discovery process is where a party sends the other party written requests for tangible documents. These requests can go back to the date of marriage (which is when the community property would begin accruing) and can cover paychecks, bank statements, retirement statements, PayPal/Venmo histories, credit card statements, HSA accounts, stocks, bonds, etc. Any type of property or account history may be requested.

Using the documents received from either disclosures or discovery, a competent family law attorney is able to pinpoint any discrepancies or suspicious transactions that may point to hidden assets. For example, if a party is getting cash advance on a credit card that can be detected by looking at credit card statements. Or if paychecks show automatic deposits being made to multiple bank accounts. In this technological world where everything is traced, it is becoming exceedingly difficult to hide property and the tools discussed above are often used to find any hidden or undisclosed assets.

Forensic Accounting

But what if your spouse is smarter than the average spouse and it appears they have successfully hidden community assets? If that is the case, then your legal team can hire a forensic accountant. This is a CPA or accountant who specializes in reviewing accounts and financial documents to pinpoint suspicious activity or trace the whereabouts of missing funds. Forensic accounts are well-versed in tracing items like offshore accounts or cryptocurrency.

A forensic accountant is also helpful in determining a spouse’s actual income. Often a spouse will attempt to deflate their actual income to help reduce their child support or spousal support obligations. A forensic account will review their paychecks, tax returns, bonus structures, compensation packages, and any other documents evidencing income and actually compare to see if their stated income is accurate. This method is especially helpful when dealing with self-employed spouses who can commingle their personal and business expenditures to show a reduced income.

What if Hidden Assets Are Discovered?

The Court has several methods of dividing community property and if a spouse is determined to have hidden assets or attempted to defraud the community by hiding assets, the Court may do any of the following:

  • Awarding a spouse all of the previously hidden assets (or awarding the innocent spouse any nondisclosed assets not specifically awarded in the decree);
  • Finding the sneaky spouse in contempt of court and awarding attorney fees to the innocent spouse.

There is a statute of limitation of two years on any assets discovered after the divorce has been finalized. So if your divorce was recent and you discover that assets existed your spouse did not disclose and were not divided in the divorce, it is imperative you contact a family law attorney to assist you in pursuing claim to those assets even if the divorce has already been finalized.

Time is of the Essence

While there are several helpful tools in tracking undisclosed or hidden assets, it is still important to contact an experienced family law attorney if you become aware that your spouse (or soon to be ex-spouse) is hiding assets. Cash and valuables can disappear and be difficult to recover, even if the existence can be proven). If you are considering a divorce and believe assets may disappear or be hidden, it’s best to begin the search and tracing process sooner rather than later.

The Ramos Law Group, PLLC and its legal team have handled many cases that dealt with hidden assets and have the resources available to help you if you believe your spouse has hidden community property.

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