Most people are generally familiar with how a divorce works. However, people often don’t fully realize that a divorce is much more than simply terminating a marriage on paper. Rather, it will require navigating many seemingly small—but in reality, crucial—logistical details throughout the process. One such detail that must be addressed is determining who pays household bills during a divorce before the final order has been entered.
If you have questions about whether and to what extent you may be responsible for certain household bills and other expenses throughout your divorce, know that you are not alone. Use our guide to learn more about your rights and obligations and see how the family law and divorce attorneys at The Larson Law Office can help you move forward.
How Are Bills Split in a Divorce: What You Need to Know
When determining who pays household bills during a divorce, the answer will ultimately depend on a variety of factors that will vary from case to case. As you prepare for what can be a complicated process, here are some things to keep in mind so you have a better idea of what you can expect.
Types of Bills That Frequently Must Be Addressed
You and your spouse likely intertwined your finances and financial obligations throughout your marriage, as is common for most married couples. However, once you make the decision to end your marriage, your responsibility for paying your bills and expenses does not automatically end.
Below are some common examples of joint bills and other financial obligations that a couple will usually have to address during their divorce proceedings:
- Mortgage or rent payments,
- Car payments,
- Health insurance,
- Phone bills,
- Credit card bills, and
- Loan payments.
Regardless of whether one or both of your names are on a particular bill, keeping track of and making payments toward your marital financial obligations until the divorce is concluded is important. Thus, before getting too far along, keeping a running list of shared bills and expenses can be a good idea to ensure you don’t miss any.
Temporary Orders: Determining Who Pays Household Bills During a Divorce
In an uncontested divorce, the parties may be able to mutually and amicably agree to an arrangement on how to split financial responsibility for any bills. However, in a contested divorce, where the parties are not able to reach an agreement, you may instead need to seek the court’s assistance in making a temporary determination. This is where a temporary order can come into play.
A temporary order is one that a court can issue while the divorce action is pending to preserve the property and protection of the parties through the divorce proceedings. Notably, however, a temporary order will be effective only until the final divorce decree has been entered.
In a temporary order, the court can require a certain party to pay all household bills or order the parties to split them fairly and equitably. Regardless of the court’s ultimate determination, this type of temporary order can clarify the parties’ financial obligations and better ensure that the needs and well-being of the parties and their children, if any, are adequately addressed while the case is ongoing.
Factors Affecting Who Is Responsible for Bills During a Divorce
In determining whether and how to apportion financial responsibility for bills and other expenses, Texas courts will consider a variety of factors such as:
- Whether any expenses were incurred prior to the marriage and belong to a particular spouse;
- The income, earning capacity, standard of living, and financial needs of each respective spouse;
- The existence of any financial misconduct, such as hiding assets or wrongfully spending marital funds, by either spouse;
- Whether the couple has any children and which spouse that child will be living with during the divorce proceedings; and
- Whether either spouse will be required to pay temporary spousal or child support to the other.
That said, there are a number of other factors that the court might consider depending on your case’s circumstances.
The Larson Law Office: Your Trusted Texas Divorce Attorneys
Divorce is never easy, and determining who will be financially responsible for certain bills and expenses throughout the process can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, however, you don’t have to go through this process on your own.
At The Larson Law Office, we have been helping clients in Texas for more than 20 years. From temporary orders to post-judgment modifications and everything in between, our family law attorneys have seen just about everything when it comes to the Texas divorce process. Thus, we’re confident that we have the experience necessary to help you effectively fight for and protect your rights.
If you have questions about your potential financial responsibility while your divorce is pending, give our team a call. Let’s discuss your case and see how we can help you move forward today.
Is the Primary Earner Always Responsible For the Bills During a Divorce?
No, the primary earner will not always be financially responsible for paying the bills during the pendency of a Texas divorce. While this is certainly a possible outcome, often, the parties may be required to split financial responsibility. In reality, the answer will vary widely from case to case and will ultimately depend on the specific facts of the case and the financial circumstances of each party.
What Happens If I Violate a Temporary Order to Pay Bills During Our Divorce?
It’s important to remember that even a temporary order is a formal order of the court. Violating any court order can result in severe consequences, including being held in contempt of court, which can result in fines and even jail time. Thus, if you are ordered to pay certain bills during the pendency of your divorce, be sure to comply. If you can no longer do so due to a recent change in circumstances, call our team to discuss your options for seeking a modification of the order.
Is a Temporary Order the Same Thing as a Temporary Restraining Order?
No, although they sound similar, a temporary order and a temporary restraining order are two different things. A temporary order allows the court to address certain matters temporarily until the divorce has been finalized. Conversely, a temporary restraining order (TRO) is an emergency measure that allows the court to restrict certain actions by a party for a limited period of time, typically only 14 days, until the court can hold a hearing to determine a more permanent solution.