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Top Ten Financial Tips for Women Divorcing in 2013

Forbes Magazine recently posted an article suggesting the "Five Best Financial Tips for Women Divorcing in 2013" We thought we would expand the list to ten. Most are activites to do BEFORE a divorce is filed. 

 

1.  Gather financial documents, such as tax returns, end of year statements from banks and brokerage houses.  End of year credit card statments may have a whole year of transactions.  Having good information before a divorce commences can make it go easier. 

 

2.  Assess your credit.  Get a copy of your credit report, and take steps to protect your credit.  The filing of a divorce may prevent you from taking some steps in this area.

 

3.  Open bank account and credit cards in your own name.  That way you have funds that are not accessible to your spouse, and a credit card he can't cut off.

 

4.  Begin to assemble a professional divorce team.  Hopefully, you will have something in your estate othe than tupperware and credit card debt.  Consulting with a divorce attorney, and perhaps others if there are assets or other issues that beg for analysis by experts, is a real good idea.

 

5.  Be watchful.  If you're think about a divorce, your spouse may be also.  And may already be on a missionto hide assets or income.  Look at the documents that come intoyour view, look at computer screens, and generally assess whether the flow of information has become restricted, or you hear cries how how "business is terrible."  The anecdoctal information you gather can help your divorce team immensely when the time comes.

 

6.  Keep track of and document significant events.  Your notes to yourself can later help construct a timeline that helps you and your team figure out what has been happening.

 

7.  Remember that you are married until the divorce decree is signed by the Judge.  There is no common law divorce, where you can feel free to take up a new relationship.

 

8. Get needed medical and dental work done while you still have coverage while you're married.

 

9.  Have a safe place to keep your documents that are outside the easy access of your spouse.  It doesn't do you any good to collect helpful if not critical documents if they suddenly disappear.

 

10.  Protect yourself--physically-- and your confidential information.  Don't allow yourself to be initmindated or worse.  911 is there for a reason.  Change your passwords that allow access to your computers, cell phone, social media, email, and finanacial sites.  Don't use passwords your spouse can  maybe figure out. Have your home and vehicle swept for bugs--and not the six legged kind.

 

The articles on the website explain in much detail what esle to expect in a Plano,  Ft.Worth, Denton or Rockwall divorce.

 

Most women find that a consultation with one of our Dallas Divorce Attorneys helps guide them through the pre-divorce-planning and information gathering stage of their life.  The Forbes article is here.

Filed under Family LawTags baby boomers, Dallas divorce attorney, Dallas divorce firm, divorce in the news, gray divorce, Ken Raggio, money problems, older Dallas divorce, retirement savings, Technology and Family Law
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Texas Supreme Court approves Do-It-Yourself Divorce Forms

The Texas Supreme Court has approved pro se divorce forms for couples without children or property.

 

The court is accepting public comment on the forms, but substantial changes are not expected, the Austin American-Statesman and Texas Lawyer’s Tex Parte Blog report.

 

In its order approving the forms, the court said it was confident they would help address the “burgeoning population” of litigants who can’t afford a lawyer or can’t obtain one through a legal service provider.

 

Three justices said in a dissenting statement that they feared the forms would result in more people representing themselves even when they can afford lawyers. The statement also expressed concern that litigants would be lulled into believing the forms would adequately address their interests.

 

A problem inherent in the system-with or without the forms- is the inordinate amount of time that Court clerks and the Courts themselves spend dealing with the pro se divorces.  One long time Dallas County Associate family Law Court Judge recently retired, substantailly becuse  the judge felt overrun with pro se litigants seeking divorces, which by experience, was wrongly requested or done.  If the forms eliminate this problem, great!  But the forms are likely to increase the total time and efforts OUR GOVERNMENT has to pay for to guide hundreds if not thousands of people from square one all the way through the process.

 

An analagy is: you could build your own car, but would you want to drive it?  No, you would want someone who has done it before...

 

A problem with pro se divorce is the high probablility of fraud--either in procurement of signatures or in the failure to disclose property such as pension plans, or other assets that are not immediately at hand.  The Supreme Court's order say that this should not be possible, but experience suggests otherwise.

 

We shall see.

 

Filed under Family LawTags Dallas divorce attorney, divorce in the news, money problems, retirement savings
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The Gray Divorce Paradigm: Boomer Breakups Increase Like Never Before

This article was excerpted in the November 2012 issue of D Magazine.

 

Leave it to the Baby Boomers to fuel their very own trend in divorce.

 

While the overall divorce rate is declining in North Texas, people age 50 and older are divorcing at an alarming rate. In 1990, the 50-plus crowd accounted for one in 10 divorces. In 2008, one in four divorces involved Boomer-age couples. Nationwide, more than 600,000 people age 50 and older got divorced in 2009.

 

“Gray divorces are a new and different kind of process,” says Ken Raggio, whose Dallas family law firm Raggio & Raggio has developed a protocol specifically to serve this growing market of older Dallas divorce. “The normal reasons people divorce – money problems, child issues and infidelity – aren’t the reasons most older people come to see us. They’ve raised their kids, made their money and now they want the last part of their lives to be more interesting and fulfilling.”

 

An AARP study in 2004 suggests that women initiate almost 70% of gray divorces served by the best Dallas family lawyers. As women survey their empty nests and face decades of healthy life, many decide their parental duties are complete and look forward to more excitement than a Law & Order marathon in the evening. Increasingly, they believe “til death do us part” is unrealistic with today’s longer life spans.

 

Family lawyer Barbara Van Duyne says gray divorces are of prime concern to Dallas divorce attorneys. “We started seeing a trend of our friends and colleagues getting divorced after 30 to 40 years of marriage. These are the couples you look at and wonder who would ever have thought they would break up? Once we become involved in the intricacies of the Dallas family law proceedings, we become aware of the unique issues, complicated concerns and emotional turmoil this age group faces.”

 

“Our job, in reality, is to make certain that our Dallas family law clients receive full value for their portion of the estate,” says attorney Tom Raggio. “Frequently this process can be less than obvious and requires more than a superficial analysis. In most cases, if they are retired or near retirement, this is probably the best financial condition they can expect.

 

“We look at retirement accounts and other savings,” Tom says. “There’s often real estate involved, and we have to get maximum value for that. We sometimes bring in a financial planner, especially if a Dallas divorce client has not been involved in managing money. We can use conventional litigation or collaborative law, but we have to be very careful with the money they have.”

 

The Dallas divorce attorney must give the client an honest appraisal of the assets they have to accomplish those goals. “The home used to be the real prize in a divorce,” says attorney Grier Raggio. “Now we look very closely at the home and whether our client is better off getting that or other assets.”

 

Jeff Raggio, Ken’s 27-year-old son and an associate at the Dallas divorce firm, says the firm’s older clients seem to be looking for the same bright future as the younger clients he and other Raggio attorneys represent. “It’s important to make this a hopeful process,” he says, “and this is something all of us work to achieve. A common thread across all age groups in divorce cases is that one or both parties realize the relationship is no longer working. Our firm helps clients on the journey to get their lives back on track.”

 

Those experiencing gray divorces should have plenty of company on that journey. One researcher predicts the annual number of over-50 divorces nationwide should exceed 800,000 by 2030.

 

As with all other Baby Boomer trends, there continues to be strength in numbers.

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under Popular CultureTags baby boomers, Barbara Van Duyne, Dallas divorce attorney, Dallas divorce firm, gray divorce, Grier Raggio, Jeff Raggio, Ken Raggio, money problems, older Dallas divorce, retirement savings, Tom Raggio
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