As a Flower Mound, Denton County Divorce lawyer practicing the challenging art of family law, I rarely encounter people at their best on their best day. Even people that typically function at a high level in their normal life tend to function at a relatively low level during strife in relationships and particularly in divorce. Sometimes I catch myself walking into meetings with new clients and greeting them with “how are you?” This, knowing full well, if they were doing well, they certainly wouldn’t be here to see me.
Sometimes married folks suspect that a divorce is on the horizon because their spouse has been acting “different,” and they want my opinion on what this new behavior may mean for the future of the martial relationship. I oblige. People pay me for my opinion, and that’s what I try to give them. Far too often, lawyers play coy with clients, afraid to commit to one side or the other; afraid to be wrong. How can an opinion be wrong?
What follows is a non-comprehensive list of behavior I have observed during my time in practice as a Flower Mound, Denton County, Texas divorce lawyer, that in many cases (not all) are signs or indicators that it may be time for you to seek the advice of a divorce lawyer to properly prepare yourself on both an emotional and financial level for what may lie ahead:
1. Talk of Bankruptcy – frequently I hear spouses who have never heard, nor seen financial difficulty or trouble in the marriage relationship tell me that their spouse is suddenly talking about bankruptcy. This can often time be the result of your spouse meeting with an attorney and beginning to understand that Texas is a community property state, and irrespective of who earned money during the marriage, or who’s name property or debt is titled in is typically irrelevant and has little or no impact on how assets are divided. In addition, there is often great concern about the costs of divorce and people considering that avenue can’t comprehend how the community estate could absorb an expensive and drawn out legal battle.
2. The Journey Toward Mid-life Crisis – it is natural of every human being to at some point realize they are running out of time to do the things that they had original planned to do; to own the car they had always wanted; to “live the dream.” I will frequently hear from new clients that a husband has recently purchased a new sports car, which is totally out of character. I will hear that he has started dressing “younger” when appearance had never previously been a source of great importance. On occasion, the journey toward mid-life crisis restricts the mind from making rational choices and men that have been decent husbands morph into selfish, “live for today” narcissists.
3. Trying to Use Legal Terms – If your spouse is suddenly using words like “community property,” “alimony,” “equitable,” “legal title,” “conservatorship” or the like, this may stem from a recent meeting with a lawyer. I can almost always tell when a potential new client has previously met with another lawyer just by the words that they use which show a cursory understanding of Texas divorce law.
4. Change in Asset Control – If previously, your spouse shared financial information with you, but suddenly has gone silent, that may signal an issue. If bank statements and other statements of financial account used to regularly come in the mail to your home, but lately none have shown up, it may signal an attempt by your spouse to prepare for divorce by beginning to conceal information. Does your spouse have a credit that is billed to another address or a business credit card? This can be dangerous for both parties. Access is important to secrecy.
5. New Hobbies NOT Including You – Has your spouse signed up or begun to attend a new class or hobby, but one that doesn’t involve you? It is very healthy for spouses to have time apart to grow individually and experience things on their own. However, if your spouse has never been into physical fitness (which many people find necessary but not particularly enjoyable), and suddenly joins a gym and tells you they are spending a significant amount of unaccounted for time there; you may have caught onto an indicator or a problem.
6. Retraction of Spending – Cash is important factor in divorce cases. On many occasions, the accumulation of cash can make property division in a divorce much simpler. The reason is simple: cash and liquidity will inherently be more valuable to one party than to another. Someone (typically the lower earner or “stay at home parent”) needs cash or the equivalent to feel secure in the short term and is often willing to take less in the global settlement structure in exchange for cash. The higher earning party typically applies as lesser value to the cash, understanding that she/he will be able to continue in their current earning capacity and revamp their cash reserves after the case is concluded.
These activities tend to work in conjunction, one with another. It wouldn’t be unusual to see all of the above noted behaviors present and consistent in the upheaval of a marriage. For the first time in the history of civilization, marriage is losing popularity at a staggering rate. Statistics show that among adults 18-24 years old, 78% have never been married, while statistics indicate that currently about 10% of all adults in the United States are divorced. The impact is far reaching, wipe spread and trending.
The love you get is commensurate with the love you give.
Chad D. Elsey