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September 2016 Archives

What Happens With Credit Card Debt In A Divorce?

How do you divide credit card debt when getting divorced? What if the debt is in both of your names? What if you have much more debt in your name than your spouse? The important thing to know about credit card debt is that no court can interfere with the contract that was signed between the person and the credit card company. So, if you have a credit card in your name and your spouse did not co-sign that agreement with you, you will ultimately be responsible for paying the debt. This is true even if the debt was incurred during the marriage. Texas is a community property state. Which means that anything acquired during the marriage is community property. (With the exception of gifts, inheritances and personal injury awards.) That means that any debt incurred during the marriage is a community debt. The judge could order that your spouse pay all or a portion of a credit card debt that is in your name, or you could make an agreement with your spouse to that effect. But if that happens, you are setting yourself up for problems. The reason is this: If your spouse fails to pay the credit card company as agreed or ordered, the credit card company will come after you for payment. If you don't pay, your credit will probably suffer. You could file a motion to enforce with the court to try to force your spouse to pay his portion of your credit card debt, but all you can get from the court is an order. The Judge cannot punish your spouse by putting him/her in jail as punishment. There is no debtor's prison in Texas (or in the U.S.) Meanwhile, your credit is damaged and you have probably spent money hiring an attorney to help you with the enforcement. A better way to deal with credit card debt when negotiating a property settlement in a divorce is to agree that the party who's name is on the credit card agrees to pay that debt. If one party has more debt in his/her name, then one way to make the property division more "fair" is to let the party with more debt get more of the assets. This will offset the amount of debt a person takes. Call Hoppes & Cutrer, LLC for questions regarding division of property in a divorce. 

The Decision Has Been Made......we Are Getting A Divorce. What Do I Do Now?

You and your spouse have decided to divorce in Texas. You both knew that it's been a long time coming . You are not even sure it is the right decision. But the decision has been made and you want to make sure that you are protected and that you get the best outcome possible for you and your children. So what now?
1. You could call your cousin Frank who is a divorce attorney in El Paso to see if he has any advice for you.
2. You could spend hours and hours on the internet searching for answers about Texas divorce law. You may even look into the "do it yourself" alternatives.
3. You talk with your friends who never went to law school but are telling you their opinion about what will happen in your divorce and what you should do. their opinions might be based on their own experience or on what they have heard from their friends.
4. You and your spouse argue endlessly about who is right regarding the reasons for the divorce as well as the likely outcomes.
5. How do you calculate support obligations? What will your cash flow look like after the divorce? Can you keep the house? Can you divide a retirement account in a divorce?
6. What should be done regarding the children? How should possession and access to them be decided?
7. How long must you carry your spouse on health insurance? When should you begin dividing bank accounts? When should you separate your residences? How do you make sure that you do not overlook something?
9. And perhaps most important: how do you maintain control of your life during this crazy time? You need the help of experienced and compassionate divorce lawyers that will help guide you through the divorce process.
At Hoppes & Cutrer, we can help you navigate the difficulties of the divorce process. 

Cohabitation Agreements

More and more couples are deciding to live together rather than getting married and some are living together before they decide to get married. Having a cohabitation agreement can protect both parties in the event a relationship goes south. A cohabitation agreement is a contract between the parties, much like a prenuptial agreement. However, this agreement would not be controlled by the Texas Family Code.A cohabitation agreement can accomplish many different things including:1. Disprove that the parties are common law married. The agreement can state that both parties agree that there is no common law marriage and if they get married some time in the future, it will be by a ceremonial marriage.
2. The couple's financial relationships, like who pays for what expense. Will there be a joint bank account and will there be an agreement as to what percentage of the account each party owns.
3. Who owns the property where the couple lives? If a property is owned together, what percentage of the property does each party own.
4. If one party moves out what protocols should be followed. Each party has to sign the agreement voluntarily and each party should be represented by an experienced family law attorney. For people who want a relationship where they live together, but they do not want to get married and they want to plan ahead to mitigate the financial and emotional turmoil of a breakup, a cohabitation agreement could make good logical sense. 

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