Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A (NOT SO) Simple Equation To Calculate What Your Case Is Worth.

A while ago, Jimmy Buffet wrote a song called "Math Sucks", a sentiment shared by many mathphobes.  But math probably never sucked harder than when it is being used to deconstruct your life and reduce years of memories and hard work down to such a feeble thing as a raw number.  But when you are involved in a divorce, getting the right number is critical in determining whether you will come out ok, or getting financially destroyed.  Now that REALLY would suck.

If your attorney is a good one, he is getting your case ready for the worst possible scenario and will be busily preparing your case for trial- that is the ultimate goal of his efforts.  However, the client’s calculations should be geared towards settlement, as that is often the most favorable result.  So how can you decide if a settlement offer is a good one or not?  Once again we have to turn to our old "frien-emy": math.

Knowing the total value of your property is the first and hardest step but unfortunately, it is not the only part of the equation.  You should also add in the costs of litigation to your calculation. So when you are considering whether to accept a settlement offer, you can use the following formula.

Total value of assets you think the judge will award you  -  the total amount of debt you think the judge will award you -litigation fees (Legal fees + Expert fees + other costs + time missed from work + mental health costs + time value of money)  < settlement offer.

In other words, if the value of the settlement offer is more than what you think the judge would award you LESS all the costs of litigation, you should take the offer.  

Obviously there are lots of variables in this equation and the values for each of these may be constantly changing.  But that is why the help of a good attorney team is essential to helping you decide if a settlement offer is even in the ballpark and even worth considering.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Snoring, Fishing or Too Much Sex: Top 10 Excuses for Getting a Divorce

Unless you are VERY far behind the times, it should be no news that you do not need to prove that your spouse caused the breakup of a marriage to get a divorce- pretty much if you want a divorce, you can have it.  California was the first in 1970 and today all states in the union provide for some kind of "no- fault" divorce.  Seventeen states are "true" no-fault in that they don't provide any option for a claim of fault.  Thirty-three other states, including here in Texas, have an optional scheme: you can either plead no- fault, or plead one of the traditional fault based claims such as adultery, abandonment, or cruelty.

With great regularilty, bills are introduced into our state legislature that would make Texas return to the "fault-only" basis for granting a divorce.  Each time the bills are defeated, but it makes one wonder what would happen if such a bill did pass in the modern era.  The motivation behind such bills are clear- the proposal is an attempt to reduce the number of divorces by making it more difficult to obtain one- in the hope that parties will reconsider their action.  But would the amount of divorces really go down?

I certainly don't think so.  I think that most people will lie or at least exaggerate their circumstance to get what they want- a permanent, legal divorce.

Take the case of Great Britain.  They do not have "no fault" divorce.  There, divorces are granted only if the moving party can show that the spouse has engaged in some "unreasonable behavior"- although there is no legal definition for that term.  Basically, Brits must come up with a reason- any reason- for divorcing, and our usually conservative cousins across the pond can prove to be quite imaginative in their reasons.   A recent study has shown some of the most popular grounds for divorce in Great Britain.  They include every kind of annoyance-even if the behavior is seen by others as healthy or positive.  This includes seek divorce because the partner has become a fanatical cyclist or has started going to the gym every day, or has suddenly given up dairy and gluten. 

Here then are the top ten reasons given for divorcing in Great Britain:

1.  A partner's illness
2.  Snoring
3.  Going to the gym too much
4.  Being ungrateful for all the work their partner does
5.  Being hopeless with money
6.  Disagreement over respective politics
7.  Food fanaticism
8.  Fishing
9.  Sex- either not enough, being offered too much, or loss of interest
10.  Suspicion the other party is messing around

If Texas ever returned to a fault based divorce system, I wonder how creative our "top ten list" would be?