If you and your spouse have no children and own no property together, you may be able to do your divorce yourselves. “No property” means you literally own nothing as a couple, not even a car. The “pro se” forms approved by the Texas Supreme Court are relatively easy to fill out in this type of divorce.
Child Custody Issues
There are many issues that need to be resolved between the parents when there are children of the marriage. Sometimes, a final divorce decree may have 20 pages or more devoted to terms involving the children.
Residence restrictions and relocation are often big issues that cause conflict. Sometimes, one parent wants to move away, perhaps to a different city or state because they have no family in this area. If an attorney is not involved in the divorce, the spouse who wants their ex to stay in this area so they can be an active and involved parent sometimes will not be aware that they didn’t check the right box on the form and now their ex is able to move the children to a new state. If there is no residence restriction in the divorce decree, it is often difficult or sometimes impossible to get such an order after-the-fact.
Property Division Issues
There are many issues that can arise after the final divorce decree that create problems that should have been solved before the final order. Two big issues are dividing a retirement plan and selling the family home.
Dividing the retirement plan. People will come to our office upset and say, “I thought I was going to get 50% of my ex-spouse’s retirement, but now I have nothing.” That is not a good place to be in.
Dividing up any retirement plan, whether it is a pension, a 401k plan or even an IRA, is complicated. Dividing a retirement plan is normally done by way of a separate Domestic Relations Order. This should be submitted to the plan administrator for approval before the Judge signs the order. This needs to be done at the same time as the divorce, or within 30 days after the divorce has become final.
Selling the house. The house does not have to be sold prior to the final divorce order. Some do-it-yourself agreements will say simply, “we agree to sell the house,” which is too vague to be of much benefit. The terms of the decree need to spell out what each party is supposed to do and exactly how the funds will be divided upon the sale of the home.
The terms of the property division are final and cannot be modified after the divorce; therefore, it is too late to go into court and ask the judge to amend the terms of the property division after the divorce is granted.
For More Information About Divorce Contact an Experienced Dallas Family Law Attorney
To schedule a free initial consultation with a Dallas Family Law Attorney, contact Paula Lock Smyth Law Offices at 214-420-1800.