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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 12620
Experience:  Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.
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My wife and I have been married since Dec 2012. She recently

Customer Question

My wife and I have been married since Dec 2012. She recently received a green card from Kyrgystan to live in the U.S. as of 25 April 2013. I own a home in Jersey that is rented; and I also own a home out-right in Texas that we live-in. I have 50K in savings; and she has her own checking account with hers and my name on it. Currently neither one of us is employed, but we are looking for work. I also receive a pension from the Air Force. What if anything is she entitled to if we divorce? She can't afford a lawyer, therefore will I have to pay for her lawyer fees. I am thinking to file for a divorce or annulment within the next month or so. I have not cheated on her; but unfortunately she discovered some e-mails that were sent betwen me and my friend in which I said what I wanted to do, but didn't do. For whatever it's worth, this is my second marriage. Will I have to pay her alimony if we divorce?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 4 years ago.

Brandon M. :

Hello there.

Brandon M. :

Thank you for your question. I understand that you have been married since December 2012. For how long have you lived in Texas?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I have been living in Texas since I purchased a home here in Nov 2007. I was living and working overseas from that point and coming home for vacation every 6 months.

Before that I retired from the Air Force in New Jersey. She formerly lived in Kyrgyzstan up until we married in Dec 2012.

Expert:  Brandon M. replied 4 years ago.
I should start by clarifying that it is only possible to discuss general principles in this forum. A specific calculation of how assets and debts are to be divided in any given divorce needs to be done with the assistance of counsel in person with all relevant documents accessible for examination. In that context, this information should not be relied upon as complete or advice without consulting with counsel in person.

That said, divorce is filed in a state where either spouse meets the residency requirements. Texas requires only that either spouse have been domiciled in the state for the six months preceding the divorce filing, so anyone living in the state since 2007 could file for divorce in Texas.

Texas is a community property state. Community property is divided equally, whereas property characterized as "separate" property is not divided at all. Community property generally includes property acquired after the date of marriage but before the date that the couple separates, except property acquired by gift, devise, or bequest. Separate property generally includes all property acquired prior to the date of marriage, after the date of separation, or during the marriage if acquired by gift, devise, or bequest. This means that someone owning their home outright at the start of the marriage would generally keep the home in the event of a divorce, regardless of where the home was located. A pension is treated like any other asset... if the pension was earned prior to the marriage, it would generally be treated as separate property.

Sometimes property is acquired both during and before a marriage. For example, if someone contributed to a pension before marriage and during the marriage. In those cases, the value of the asset earned prior to marriage is calculated separate from the value earned during the marriage. If a pension's value was earned 90% prior to marriage and 10% during marriage, 90% would typically be separate property and 10% would typically be community property (thus, it would be split 95/5).

The length of a marriage is a factor of consideration when awarding alimony. For a six month marriage in Texas, there is typically no alimony awarded because of the marriage's brevity.

Annulment is a legal determination that a marriage was never valid in the first place. Examples would be if one or both of the spouses was underaged, if the spouses are siblings, or if the marriage was fraudulent. It is very rare that a marriage will qualify for annulment, even if it was extremely short in duration.

The Texas Family Code is lengthy and complex, so any given case will require a full analysis, but these are the general principles. In short, those assets earned during the marriage are generally split, while all others are generally not. Let me know if further clarification is needed. Thanks.