You may be surprised to hear this from divorce attorneys, but at the Sisemore Law Firm in Fort Worth, we never advocate for divorce. Whether you should get divorced or not is up to you. However, before you make any decisions it is important to understand the ramifications of dragging your feet on getting divorced because it could negatively affect your divorce settlement and child custody rights in Texas.
When to Divorce: Egregious behavior may make it easier to justify divorce
Obviously, in cases of family violence and adultery getting a divorce can be warranted. You’ve made a vow to love and honor each other in sickness and health, until death do you part. If your spouse cheats on you or is physically or mentally abusive, he or she has breached those vows both biblically and civilly.
Should you decide to file for divorce the Texas courts typically will consider evidence of domestic violence issues and infidelity when determining a divorce settlement, as well as child custody and visitation. Keep in mind, you will need to provide proof that abuse or cheating occurred, and it’s up to the judge to decide how that will have an impact on the settlement. Evidence may include new police reports, video, threatening texts or voicemails to prove family violence and evidence of wasting community funds on a lover for adultery.
Timing is critical in Texas divorce and child custody cases involving family violence and adultery
Unfortunately, victims of family violence are often wooed back into a relationship by their abusers—some time and again. This is why you may need to start asking the question “should I get a divorce?” Many judges won’t take accusations of domestic violence as seriously and assume things couldn’t have been that bad if the alleged victim keeps going back to the alleged abuser.
In the event that there are serious circumstances with family violence, adultery and other forms of egregious behavior, and you wait years to do anything about it, the severity and the effect on the division of property typically will diminish over time, this is why knowing when it is time to get a divorce can be beneficial to you.
We understand that it takes work to break free from an abuser. They are masters at manipulation and will do anything in their power to keep their partner and children under control, both emotionally and financially. However, even if you don’t have friends or family to turn to, help is available. If you’re ready to regain control of your (and your children’s) life, safety and sanity, consider the following tips:
If you fear for your and/or your children’s physical safety, call 911.
- Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for information, care, and support at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY, or text LOVEIS to 22522.
- Contact a women’s shelter near you if you need a safe place to stay. Along with lodging, shelters offer a variety of services and support to get you back on your feet.
- Put a safety plan in place (you’ll find some great tips here if it’s safe to use a computer at your location). For example, store a set of keys, cash, copies of important documents, medication, extra clothing in a safe location with someone you trust.
- If at all possible, don’t leave your kids behind! Not only will they be at risk for harm, but the abuser could also accuse you of abandonment, which could make it extremely difficult to regain custody of your children later.
- Do your best to collect evidence of the abuse and save it in a safe place. Give copies of police reports, photos, recordings, etc. to a person you trust, including your divorce attorney if you have retained one.
Timing is also critical for couples that have simply grown apart
Many people don’t want to ask the question “should I get a divorce?” or deal with the hassles involved with divorce but it could cost you big time if you stay married. Texas is a community property state, which means that any assets, income and debts you accrue from the date of marriage up through the date of divorce are considered community property.
For example, say you and your spouse have been separated for a few years. You’ve gone on to open a thriving business during the separation and view that business as your own. Now, three years into your separation, your spouse files for divorce and wants a piece of the pie. Guess what? He or she will be entitled to a big chunk of that pie if papers were never signed and any other community property you have accrued during the separation.
Your spouse would also be entitled to a portion of any retirement assets you accumulate during the marriage (and vice versa). If you are the primary breadwinner and accumulating the majority of retirement assets over several years, you could end up losing a big chunk of your nest egg by postponing divorce.
Get honest legal advice about divorce and child custody in Tarrant County
If you live in Tarrant County and want to better understand when to get a divorce, click here. At the Sisemore Law Firm in Fort Worth, we won’t tell you when it’s a good idea to get divorced but we can give you honest advice about what to expect when answering the question “should I get a divorce?”