bills in a divorce

Beau’s Blog

Winning a Divorce Case … Taking care of the bills and the house during the divorce.

How do I making sure that my routine bills like car payments, and the house will be taken care of during the divorce process? Specifically, 

  • How will the money be handled?
  • How will the bills be paid?
  • Who will pay each bill?
  • Who will live in the home?

Clients often want to know how long a divorce proceeding will take.  The short answer is “I do not know.”  Generally speaking, I tell clients to use six months as a planning number for the length of their case.  A divorce proceeding could and often does take much longer to complete.  Meanwhile, while the case is pending, there are a lot of things that go into a state of “limbo.”  This transitory state generates fear and uncertainty.  The Courts have some tried and true things that can be done to make sure the transition will be handled in an orderly manner. 

In Texas, the primary vehicle used to handle interim allocation of income and assets, while a divorce is pending, is the temporary orders hearing.  A temporary orders hearing will usually take place two or three weeks after the divorce is filed. At the temporary orders hearing, the Court makes orders that routinely include payment of bills, allocation of the parties’ income and who gets to live in the marital residence. 

While each case is different, the Courts in Texas usually use the following approach.

  1. The parties’ combined income while the case is pending is usually allocated to pay bills, then the balance is split roughly … 50/50 between the husband and wife.  That means if you make only a little each month and your soon to be ex-spouse makes a lot, some cash may be coming your way after the bills are paid.  These interim payments, after the bills are paid, from one spouse to another spouse are sometimes called interim spousal support. 
  2. Everybody gets temporary and exclusive use of some property.  Generally, each spouse gets temporary exclusive use and possession of the car they are driving and personal property.  Business interests are likely be allocated, while the case is pending, to the person with the knowledge of the business and who is least likely to run a business into the ground. 
  3. The marital home is usually allocated using the following model:
    1. First, if there are kids … the kids get to live in the house.  Divorce is disruptive for kids and everyone know it.  The idea behind having the kids live in the house is simple … less disruption.  Whichever parent gets custody of the kids, gets the house as well.  
    2. Next, if there are no kids, the Court will look at alternative housing arrangements.  If one spouse can stay cost free with a family member, while the divorce is pending, and the other spouse would have to get an apartment and pay rent, the overall cost of housing is reduced if the marital home is given to the spouse that would have to rent and the spouse with the family member lives there.  
    3. Finally, if the other two basis for decision don’t yield a result, the Court will look at who will likely end up with the house.  The logic is that the party who will end up with the house will take the best care of the house, and be incented to preserve the value of the house.  

If you don’t want the “typical” analytical model to apply to you, you must tell the Court and convince the court why it should not apply that model in your particular case.  This can be done and is done often.  If you think your soon to be ex will be telling the court not to apply the analytical model, you must be prepared to defend that model.  

If you are getting a divorce, an experienced family law attorney will advise you on how to proceed to make sure the bills are paid.  You need expert advice to make sure that the worse doesn’t happen while the divorce process moves along at what will seem like a snail’s pace.  


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