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4 different approaches to complex property division

Texas couples who are preparing to bring their marriage to a close have multiple options on how to complete the divorce process. Each path has advantages and disadvantages, and spouses must choose the approach that is best in line with their interests. When a divorce will include complex property division, it is critical to select an approach that allows for an emphasis on dividing marital wealth.

The first option, which is not recommended for complex property division, is for the couple to sit down and work out the details of their divorce on their own, without legal counsel of any kind. This approach is ill-advised partly due to the risk that one spouse may take advantage of the other. A do-it-yourself divorce approach is not a good option for couples with complicated financial holdings because dividing those assets requires a skilled and experienced approach. Without that guidance, it is possible to lose money from fees, excessive taxes and penalties.

Another approach is mediation, in which parties secure their own legal counsel, but work to resolve their differences outside of court. An objective third-party mediator keeps the process on track, but does not provide legal services. Negotiations can take place during face-to-face sessions, or through legal counsel. The attorneys are used as advisors and facilitators, and the shared goal of everyone involved is to work out an agreement that is acceptable to all parties.

Arbitration is another possibility, and is a process through which the parties hire an arbitrator to handle their case. The arbitrator can be a judge or attorney, and he or she will resolve any matters that the spouses are able to work out on their own. Both parties have their own legal counsel, and the entire process can be thought of as a private form of litigation, which affords far more privacy.

Traditional litigation is the model that most Texas spouses are familiar with. In litigation, both spouses hire attorneys and begin negotiating the details of their divorce. In cases where complex property division is involved, reaching an agreement on how to divide marital wealth can become the central focus of the case. Spouses are still able to reach agreement on as many matters as possible, but a judge will resolve those matters that are in dispute. Litigation is often the least appealing option, as it affords little in the way of flexibility or creative problem-solving.

Source:, "Four Basic Divorce Process Options to Consider", Dawn S. Sunday, July 11, 2017

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