There is no denying that getting a divorce can be expensive and time consuming. But, there are ways to keep your expenses down and reach an agreement more quickly. Unfortunately, some of these methods are currently under attack.
Texas State Representative Matt Krause recently proposed a bill that could eliminate what are commonly known as “no-fault” or “insupportability” divorces. Most family law attorneys are concerned that, should this bill pass, the cost of obtaining a divorce in Texas could skyrocket.
What Affects the Cost of Getting a Divorce
To understand how this new law could cause problems for couples seeking divorce, you must first understand all the potential costs involved in the process. For instance, one “cost” that many people do not think about is their time. The more complex a divorce is, the more time it will require to resolve. Additional expenses and costs you’ll potentially have when going through a divorce include:
- Attorney fees
- Court filing fees
- Expert witness fees (e.g., accountants, property evaluations and custody experts)
- Travel expenses (if either of you lives out of town)
- Lost income from work if you do not have vacation or personal paid time off
- Child care expenses
- Home improvements (if you decide to sell your home)
- Rent deposit on a new apartment
Also, these considerations may affect your overall costs:
- Using mediation or arbitration options can avoid expensive court litigation and keep attorney fees lower
- An uncooperative or vindictive spouse can drag out the case or refuse to provide information and documents, increasing your attorney fees
So How Does the Proposed Change in Texas’ Divorce Law Increase Costs?
The proposed change will increase attorney fees simply because every divorce case will have to go to trial. Divorce attorneys generally believe that the law is no good for exactly this reason. Another consequence of requiring every case to go to trial is that these cases will bog down an already overburdened family court system.
The law would also require a spouse to prove a reason why he or she wants a divorce, like infidelity, mental health issues or abandonment. Even spouses in abusive relationships will not be granted a divorce if the spouse cannot prove the abuse or afford to hire the right experts to prove the presence of abuse.
Lacking fault, spouses who wish to divorce as soon as possible will be forced to prove one of the grounds listed in the new law. With the “insupportability” option no longer available, couples will have to hire experts to prove one of the stated legal grounds. Hiring experts can add up to thousands of dollars in costs. And preparation for motions and hearings, and the eventual litigation itself, is quite costly.
If no grounds for divorce exist, the only alternative in the law requires couples to wait three years from the date of filing their intention to divorce.
If You Are Considering Divorce, the Timing Could Be Crucial
Certainly, the changes in the law should not fully determine your decision to file for divorce. And we don’t know whether it will be ultimately enacted. But knowing about this potential change in Texas’ divorce laws could affect how much it will cost to go through the process in the future. There is no doubt that divorce will take longer and be much more expensive.
If you would like to discuss your divorce options before this potential legislation becomes law, reach out an experienced Texas family lawyer.