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FAQs About Property Division and Divorce in Texas. Part Two

This article is a continuation of our discussion of Frequently Asked Questions about the division of marital property in Texas.

It’s critical that you speak with an experienced Texas family lawyer. A skilled lawyer will help ensure that all assets that belong to you and your spouse are identified and properly valued. At Lyttle Law Firm PLLC, we work with professional appraisers, accountants, and experts when necessary.

Our lawyers work to obtain a just division of your assets. In some cases, you may be entitled to more than a 50/50 split of the assets. We’ll also help you negotiate a property division settlement. When your spouse is not cooperative, we’re experienced at arguing your case before the family law judge assigned to your case.

How is the Marital Home Divided?

This is usually the top priority issue in any property division.

If the house was purchased before you were married, if the house was a gift, or if you acquired the house through an inheritance – then you can assert that you own the house because it is separate property.

In most cases, couples buy their first home after they are married. Usually, they buy the home with the aid of a mortgage.

In many cases, a primary consideration is protecting the children. It’s hard enough for children to go through a divorce. Courts generally don’t want to cause more instability by removing the children from their family home (and their neighborhood including local schools). For this reason, courts generally prefer tying to give the home to the parent who has custody (called a conservatorship in Texas) of the children. In return, the parent who keeps the family home usually arranges to transfer other parts of her/his marital property to the other spouse – or arranges a buyout.

Who Keeps the Family Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets

We know. Your cat Lucy or your dog Mollie is often just a much a treasure as any of your other possessions. Many people love their dogs, cats, birds, and goats, as much as they love other people.

Deciding which spouse keeps which pet can be gut-wrenching. Even though they’re living creatures, pets are considered marital property. This means they are divided in the same way bank accounts and other assets are divided.

We generally encourage spouses to reach a resolution of who gets which pet on their own. Judges don’t want to be forced to decide who gets Rover or Whiskers. One factor that can help you decide is whether the children are attached to the pets. There are also practical issues such as who will walk the dog and buy the cat chow.

Some spouses have been known to craft their own dog and cat shared custody agreements.

How is a Family Business Handled When Spouses Divorce?

Divorces can be especially hard to resolve if you have a family business where you work with your spouse. Usually when couples divorce, they don’t want to work with each other after the divorce ends. Businesses are usually marital assets which means some decisions have to be made about the operation and sale of the business– or the court will make those decisions for you.

The business can be sold and the sales proceeds divided. The spouses can try to manage working together. For example, they may work different shifts.

In many cases, the solution is to arrange a buy-out. If you buy out your spouse’s share, you can either pay off your share through a loan. Alternatively, you can arrange to pay off your spouse on a regular/monthly basis.

Your family lawyer should help you properly value the business and help you buy/or sell your just equitable share.

Can you Protect Your Business From a Divorce?

There are ways to protect your business interest before you divorce. In fact, the best time to protect your business interests is before you marry. A lot depends on when you start the business, the nature of the business (retail, professional services, nonprofit, etc.), and the type of business (sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation).

One way to protect your business interests is through a prenuptial agreement. This agreement should identify your business and your right to keep it after your divorce. You and your spouse may also make business ownership decisions in a postnuptial agreement.

You may be able to protect your business interest including the right to operate the agreement through a well-crafted partnership agreement. If you own a corporation, you will likely need to set up bylaws to control what happens if there is a divorce. Using business agreements to control divorce issues can be complicated. You should speak with an experienced family lawyer to review how your marriage and divorce affects your business.

Discuss your Property Concerns With an Experienced Texas Divorce Lawyer

Often, divorce contests revolve around property division disputes. It’s more expensive for people to live apart than together. Spouses may have to prioritize among keeping their home, their business, and their retirement accounts. Many times, there are practical solutions that both spouses can agree to. For help with all parts of your divorce including property division, call us at 512.215.5225 or use our online form to schedule an appointment.

At Lyttle Law Firm, our Austin and San Marcos family lawyers serve residents of Travis, Hays, Comal, Williamson, Bell, Caldwell, Burnett, Llano, and Guadalupe Counties.

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