Divorce & Family Law

Providing support and expertise in your time of need

No one enters a marriage expecting that they will be divorced.  However, current statistics show that 50% of first marriages end in divorce.  For second and third marriages, the divorce rates are even higher.  Facing a divorce brings feelings of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty about your future.  In these situations, you need a tough and knowledgeable attorney who will fight to protect what is most important to you and your family.

At the Patrick West Law Firm, our legal team stands ready to help you through what may be the most difficult time in your life.  We use our skill and experience to get you the best possible outcome in your matter.  Divorce cases can be complex and involve tax, financial planning and other delicate issues.  We utilize our experience to help you protect and receive an equitable division of several assets in a divorce, including:

  • Tax-deferred retirement accounts: IRA, pension, 401(k) and 403(b) benefits
  • Stocks and stock options
  • Ownership and managing interests in closely held businesses and family businesses
  • Real estate holdings, including your personal residence and any rental properties
  • Life insurance policies
  • Trusts and other estate planning assets
  • Debts, such as home mortgages, automobile loans, medical bills, personal loans and credit cards

In Texas, any assets and debts which are acquired during the marriage are subject to equitable distribution by the court.  Equitable distribution is the process by which the court determines whether an asset is a marital asset or a separate asset of either party.  Separate assets are not divided in equitable distribution.  All marital assets are given a value by the court and then distributed to one party or the other based on a number of factors.

Finding Hidden Assets

When spouses divorce, it is not unusual for one spouse to attempt to hide particular assets from the other spouse.  In these cases, it is important to have an attorney who can discover assets and ensure that you receive an equitable distribution of all marital property to which you are entitled.  At the Patrick West Law Firm, we leave no stone unturned when handling your divorce, and that includes discovering any hidden marital assets and debts.

Spousal Support

In addition to equitable distribution, spousal support is another issue that sometimes arises in a Texas divorce case.  Spousal support matters can be handled can be handled in two different ways.  First, spouses can enter into a private contract which sets out the amount and duration of spousal support to be paid.  In these cases, the court does not become involved and the parties simply follow the terms of their contract with each other.  If one person fails to live up to the contract terms, the other person has the right to file a lawsuit asking the court to enforce their agreement.

The second method of handling spousal support involves the court setting the amount to be paid by one spouse to the other.  In these cases, the court will hear evidence and attempt to determine the financial need of the spouse asking for support.  The court will also determine the other spouse’s ability to pay support.

In Texas, court-ordered spousal support is difficult to obtain.  In 1995, the state legislature changed the alimony laws considerably.  As written now, the law limits the period in which alimony can be awarded to three years.  Additionally, in order to award alimony at all, the court must determine that the recipient spouse does not have enough assets or income to provide for themselves, lacks marketable job skills and has not worked for a number of years prior to a divorce.  By law, spousal support awards are capped at $2,500.00 per month or 20% of the former spouse’s average gross monthly income.

Under current tax law, alimony payments are deductible from the income of paying spouse and included in the income of the receiving spouse.  This law will change at the end of 2018, however, so that alimony payments are no longer deductible.  It is best to consult an experienced family law attorney for guidance when it comes to the financial issues associated with spousal support payments.

Dallas-Forth Worth Area Divorce Attorney

The laws regarding valuation and classification of assets and spousal support are complex.  Our team understands Texas equitable distribution and alimony laws and we use our knowledge to come up with a comprehensive plan to handle your divorce case.  Divorce is never easy.  However, it does not have to be a financial catastrophe.  The Patrick West Law Firm works tirelessly to protect you and your financial future while you are going through the divorce process.

Our firm serves Dallas, Fort Worth, Garland, Irving, Richardson, McKinney, Frisco, and Rockwall, as well as other cities in Dallas, Collin, Grayson, Denton, Tarrant, and Rockwall Counties.  For a comprehensive consultation with one of our attorneys, please contact us at 817-332-2600 or complete our online contact form.  We are standing by to assist you today.