When Equal Isn’t Fair
Often new clients come to our law offices believing they already know Texas family law. With so much talk about divorce in the media and online, it is hard to separate fact from fiction. Just as your family doctor would tell you not to diagnose your condition using the internet, as Dallas/Fort Worth divorce and custody lawyers, we are likewise telling you not to assess your family law case without the help of an experienced family law attorney, preferably one who is Board Certified in family law.
One of the more common misperceptions we hear from prospective divorce clients is that Texas is a “50-50” state. In other words, all community property in a divorce is going to be divided by the family law court straight down the middle – regardless of the circumstances of the respective parties.
The Texas Family Code requires the court to, “order a division of the community estate of the parties in a manner that the court deems just and right, having due regard for the rights of each party and any children of the marriage.” Nowhere is the word “equal” used in the statute! While many times divorce court judges will order a property division that is close to equal, this should not discourage clients from exploring a “disproportionate” division of the estate when certain circumstances are present.
Exactly what facts may lead a Tarrant County or Dallas County divorce court judge to order such a disproportionate division of the community estate? Our divorce court judges will look to each case, considering the following factors:
- the spouses‘ capacities and abilities;
- benefits which the party not at fault would have derived from continuation of the marriage;
- business opportunities;
- relative physical conditions;
- relative financial condition and obligations;
- disparity of ages;
- size of separate estates;
- the nature of the property; and
- disparity in the spouses‘ income or earning capacity. A trial court may look to other factors, including tax liability of the parties post-divorce.
- The power of our divorce courts to award more assets to a disadvantaged spouse should not be overlooked when assessing any divorce case in Tarrant County. Such an award can be the difference between a disadvantaged spouse rebuilding her life post-divorce or being financially destitute.
Protect yourself and your children when facing a divorce and don’t accept a cookie-cutter solution to your problems. Talk to an experienced Tarrant County divorce lawyer to learn all of your options. You future could depend on it. At Schreier & Housewirth Family Law, we have spent over twenty years helping our clients protect what’s most important to them in the face of divorce.