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Reasons Why Spouses File Surprise Divorce Petitions

Posted on in Divorce

plano divorce lawyerIn many marriages, both spouses are aware that their marriage has reached an end and the only solution is to file for divorce. There are, however, some spouses who are blindsided when they are served with a petition for divorce. If your spouse has surprised you with divorce papers, it is imperative to contact a divorce attorney immediately to ensure that your marital rights are protected. This is especially true if your spouse has less than honest intentions of surprising you with the divorce.

Hiding Assets from Spouses

According to national statistics, approximately two of every three marriages experience issues with hidden assets. If your spouse decides to file for divorce first, it gives them the advantage of time in which they may attempt to conceal property. Though there is very little actual advantage in filing first, some spouses do use the element of surprise in hiding assets, or in trying to do what is referred to as “conflicting out.” This is when a spouse meets with all the divorce attorneys in a certain area in order to establish an attorney-client relationship, thus leaving the other spouse with no available attorney to engage.

The most important thing you can possibly do if served divorce papers out of the blue is to seek any and all household information and make sure you have it on hand. Making copies of things like tax returns, insurance policies, bank statements and similar documents can go a long way in helping ensure you your fair share of the marital estate.  

This can also apply to household possessions - taking an inventory of valuables like jewelry, artwork, stocks, bonds, et cetera can help prevent any attempt by your spouse or their attorney to discount the existence of such items.

Child Custody

One of the things that divorcees bring up routinely is a fear that not being the first to file puts them at a disadvantage in negotiating custody of the couple’s children. This is not the case in Texas. The court will always attempt to grant custody to the parent whose situation is in the best interests of the child, with very few other factors playing a role. To arrive at this determination, a court will consider:

  • The parents’ wishes

  • The child’s wishes, if they are old enough to be thought able to articulate them

  • The child’s situation in their community and their relationships with siblings, friends and others who might affect their well-being

  • The potential to cause harm to the child’s or parent’s mental, physical, or emotional health

  • Any past history of violence against the child in their current situation, among other similar factors

In some cases, one spouse may use a surprise divorce filing in order to gain also engage in a surprise attack in a child custody battle, including alleging the other spouse’s unfitness as a parent. These allegations must be investigated before they can be used as proof in the custody case. This is another reason why you need to have a skilled divorce attorney representing you.

Contact a Plano, TX Divorce Lawyer

Divorce is an upsetting event in most people's lives, but when there has been no warning that it is coming, it can be traumatic. Call Law Office of Brian Bagley at (972) 843-7158 to schedule a free consultation with a seasoned Collin County divorce attorney.



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