A divorce lawyer Round Rock, TX relies on knows that as you prepare to get divorced, you probably have many financial concerns on your mind. Who keeps the house? How will the split impact taxes and costs of living? How will household assets be divided?
However, chances are good that you haven’t given much thought to one of the most significant financial assets that you own: retirement funds. These include pensions, 401(k) accounts, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), deferred compensation accounts, and any other retirement plans. Next to the marital residence, these retirement funds are likely among your most significant assets subject to division. Therefore, you’ll want to work with an experienced divorce lawyer Round Rock, TX residents trust to determine how your retirement assets will be divided during your divorce process. The team at the Law Office of Jason Wright, PLLC has extensive experience with complex asset division challenges and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have on this subject.
What the Law Says and How Courts Treat Retirement Funds
Texas law makes clear that courts have the authority to divide retirement accounts, but it does not always specify how to do so or which factors to consider. Because Texas is a community property state, judges are interested in dividing retirement assets fairly and justly. But before that can be done, the court needs to determine both the total value of the retirement assets in question and what proportion is considered “community property.” This is a complex process, which is one of the many reasons why you’ll want to discuss your situation with a divorce lawyer instead of trying to navigate it yourself.
Not All Retirement Assets are Jointly Owned
It doesn’t matter whether the retirement account is in your name only (or your spouse’s name only). If any value was added to the account during the marriage (through additional contributions and/or accrual of interest), that added value is community property and jointly owned by both spouses. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the entire balance of the account is subject to division.
Say, for instance, that you opened a 401(k) account when you were just 22 years old. But you didn’t marry your spouse until age 26. The first four years of your 401(k) contributions will be considered separate assets that are not subject to division. Once the court determines the total amount of retirement funds (from all sources) that can be considered community property, you’ll work with your divorce lawyer to secure a fair share of your assets.
Length of Marriage Matters for Some Retirement Assets
For most retirement accounts, the length of marriage has no bearing on how they are or can be divided. But the length of marriage does matter for:
These are matters you’ll want to discuss with your divorce lawyer. In some cases, you will need to have been married for at least 10 years to qualify for access to a portion of these benefits. In the case of military retirement, your portion as a military spouse will be based on the amount of time your spouse was serving while also married to you.
Hire a Lawyer with Knowledge and Experience
Getting the most out of your retirement benefits (your own or your share of your spouse’s) is crucial to your long-term financial security. And the way to maximize your personal share of these assets is to work with a divorce lawyer who understands the nuances of the law and how to utilize all legal remedies. That’s what you’ll find when you contact our firm. Call today to arrange your initial consultation. We look forward to meeting with you.
Getting Divorced in Texas
Even if you and your spouse are ready for a divorce, that does not mean the process will be easy. In addition to all of the paperwork, the length of time, and working with attorneys, the entire process can be draining, both physically and emotionally. We understand that you want to get this done as quickly as possible, keep your relationship intact if possible, especially if you have kids, and move on. However, trying to pursue a divorce on your own can be complicated and time-consuming. More often than not, the person who goes through a divorce without a lawyer or without the right kind of lawyer finds that they get the short end of the stick.
Do I need to give the court a reason for a divorce?
When it comes to divorce, depending on which state you live in, you may need to provide the court with a reason that you and your spouse wish to divorce. Texas gives you a few more options, however. You can file for divorce based on:
I’m worried about child custody when it comes to my divorce. How is that typically decided?
In Texas, as with any state, the court will want to do what is best for the child. If possible, they will want to ensure the child has contact with both parents and possibly visitation or shared custody with both parents. However, if one parent has a history of abusive or aggressive behavior or is not fit to parent, the court will give custody to the parent fit to care for the child.
Should I try to file for divorce on my own?
Of all the things to go through, we understand that getting a divorce can be very personal and you may wish to try to keep things between just you and your spouse. However, we have found that doing it that way can cloud a person’s judgment and typically will not work out in your favor. Just because you hire an attorney for your divorce does not mean you are trying to be aggressive or hostile. Instead, you want to ensure you get what is rightfully yours and that your children are safe and cared for. Having a divorce attorney on your side can help.
If you would like to learn more about getting a divorce in Texas, contact our office to see how we can help by representing you.
The Process of Filing for Divorce
When you are looking into getting a divorce with your spouse, you are likely wondering what the process will look like—how lengthy is the process? What kind of paperwork will you be filing? We know that you likely have many questions when it comes to the divorce process and as your attorneys, we are here to answer them for you.
Step 1: Filing. The first step in getting a divorce is filing the divorce petition with your local court. When this happens, the court serves the other spouse (the Respondent) with the divorce papers. In some cases (and depending on how amicable the divorce is), the Respondent may sign a waiver that says they are giving up their right to be served if both spouses are working together during the divorce process.
Step 2: Answering. The Respondent will have a set number of days in which they must respond to the filing. During this time, the spouses may be dealing with child custody, visitation, and even spousal support. The court can help make decisions if an agreement cannot be reached regarding things like custody and spousal support.
Step 3. Reaching a Settlement. In some cases, the spouses may agree on most things and be able to settle with the help of their divorce lawyers. If this is the case, their attorneys prepare the paperwork known as the “Agreed Decree of Divorce.” The spouses, attorneys, and a judge will need to sign this. When this is the case, the parties do not have to go to trial.
Step 4. Attending Mediation. In the event that the spouses are unable to agree on everything, they will go through the mediation process before going to trial. With the help of their mediator, a neutral third party, the spouses have the opportunity to work through conflicts and come to an agreement. When this fails, however, they must go to trial so that the court can make decisions on their behalf.
Step 5. Going to Trial. If the couple is unable to reach an agreement through mediation, they will go to trial. The court will make the final decision regarding any lingering issues and will sign the “Final Decree of Divorce.” This is what each party must abide by.
We understand the stress and complications that come with filing for a divorce. However, we are here to help make this process smoother. Call our divorce lawyer in Round Rock, Texas for more information!