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Do the 12 divorce myths apply in Texas? (part 2)

This post is a continuation of the discussion about the 12 Top Divorce Myths. Here’s the link to part one: Do the 12 divorce myths apply in Texas?

Myth 7: You can avoid paying child support.

Child support is a mandatory order in Texas and must be ordered absent extreme circumstances. If you are ordered to pay child support and fail to comply with the order, you can be held in contempt and jailed for up to 6 months. The Office of the Attorney General in Texas undertakes enforcement of child support orders.

Myth 8: Children get to pick who they live with.

This is my favorite myth of all. Children never get to pick who they live with in Texas. Ever. Ever. Period. When they turn 18 and are adults, they get to decide where to live. Not before. While they are minors, those decisions are made by adults. At the age of 12 and older, a parent may request that the child be interviewed by the judge and the judge can give whatever weight he or she deems appropriate to the child’s statements. However, judges are not required to follow the child’s preference and may still make a decision in the est interest of the child, even if it is different than the child’s preference. Read my blog post Myth: 12-year old children get to pick where they live.

Myth 9: Divorce always leads to battles.

Divorces do not have to be full of hostility. Many people are able to set aside their emotions and reach agreements regarding issues without having to have contested proceedings. Even if things start out difficult, many spouses settle their matters after the divorce gets underway either directly or through mediation. Only about 5% of all divorces filed in Texas end with a contested trial where a judge decides the issues for them.

Myth 10: Division of property means equal division.

The standard for granting a division of property in a Texas divorce is “just and right”. In a contested trial, what a judge thinks is just or right may vary from situation to situation and depends on many factors. Texas law starts at a 50/50 division and then allows he judge to deviate from 50/50 based on factors such as the needs of the spouses, the amount of separate property each spouse has, whether the spouse has children at home, whether either spouse was at fault in the break-up of the marriage, and various other equitable factors. Read Practical Guide to Asset Division in Texas.

Myth 11: Women always get maintenance and men never do.

In Texas, post-divorce court-ordered maintenance, can only be awarded in four limited situations. First, regardless of the length of the marriage or quantity of property available to divide, if a spouse has been convicted of a crime constituting family violence, then maintenance can be awarded. The other three factors require at least a 10-year duration of marriage and insufficient assets in the division of the estate to meet the minimum reasonable needs of the spouse seeking maintenance. Only then is the court authorized to award maintenance if either the spouse lacks job skills to get a job to meet the minimum reasonable needs; or, the spouse himself or herself has a disability that prevents working or has a child with a disability that prevents working. The court-ordered maintenance statute is gender neutral and does not favor men over women. Read: Maintenance in Texas — Part 2 Eligibility.

Myth 12: Most divorces go to court.

Actually 95% of divorces settle without going to court. Only a few divorces end up having a contested trial where a judge makes decisions about divorce, property division, or children.