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Written by
Noel Cookman

Why I Must Speak With 99,000 Divorcing Texans This Year

Published On 
March 9, 2017

I’m putting this on my blog because it is NOT an advertisement. This is serious stuff.

From the beginning of this newsletter, I have resolved to ONLY write and send it ONLY when I had substantial information that would help you as a family law practitioner. Candidly, I always have more ideas for you all than I have time to write about. But, I have held to my commitment.

Today, I do not break that commitment so much as come up to the boundaries of it. But, you will see that I am still keeping to only transmitting information that is helpful to you in your family law practice.

You see, for the past several months, I have received so many phone calls and emails from attorneys and potential customers who truly needed me….weeks and months (and sometimes years) ago. So, when they called, they were either in a big rush or worse, in dire straits because the terms of their divorce had already been agreed and, sometimes, the divorce already finalized.

I don’t know a less “commercial” way to say this, but...

Virtually every one of your clients needs to have a conversation with me BEFORE their final divorce. Sure, I can fix some problems after final divorce; but, not always. And, there is always extra expense in doing so….or worse, after extra expense, still no finance transaction to be had.

To review, here are the 9 people who need to speak with me:

  1. Every client who owns a home
  2. Every client who intends to purchase a home in the near future (0-4 years).
  3. Every client who DOES NOT have enough money to pay cash for a home purchase.
  4. The “high net worth” client who DOES have enough money to pay cash for a home but is too smart NOT to borrow cheap mortgage money. (People with that much money are usually smart enough to invest their money at rates of return that far exceed what they pay for mortgage money).
  5. The well-connected client who tells you he/she can just walk into their bank and get what they want (impressive-sounding, but not true when it comes to home financing)
  6. Clients who DO NOT have enough liquid cash to buy out their spouse’s interest in the marital residence.
  7. Clients who DO have enough liquid cash to buy out their spouse but are too smart to use their cash. (See #4)
  8. Every client who is absolutely sure that they qualify for a mortgage. (Never a good idea to qualify one’s self for mortgage financing).
  9. Every client who is pretty sure that they DO NOT qualify for a mortgage. (Equally bad idea to DIS-qualify one’s self for mortgage financing as well).

There are probably a few more. But, I’ll have to start where I can.

With about 80,000 divorces per year in Texas, we can safely conclude that about twice that many citizens are divorcing. (There are roughly two parties in each marriage that ends in divorce - pause...laugh/snicker).  Let’s consider that 62% of those own homes - the current home-ownership rate in Texas. That’s right at 99,000 divorcing homeowners. (I have totally left out the 38% who do not own homes and even a certain number of those who wish to own a home but do not presently own). Let’s just concentrate on the 99,000 who jointly own 49,500 homes.

How many of them need to have a conversation with me?

The tendency of many attorneys is to think about connecting their client with me IF a problem comes up. Problems like:

  • Mom hasn’t worked in 20 years and doesn’t know if she can afford the house, let alone qualify for home financing
  • It doesn’t appear that there is much equity in the house
  • Husband or wife confesses that they, most likely, have bad credit
  • No one is sure about who actually owns the house
  • Opposing is demanding that their client be relieved of the mortgage…and….
  • Those (on opposing) who do not understand how financing works in divorce are insisting that the house be sold.
  • There are literally as many other problems as I receive phone calls.

Here’s the easy part for you. Assume that every one of your clients has a problem – THEY ARE GETTING A DIVORCE! Do not even entertain thoughts like:

  • “Surely they will have no problem with financing – they have $2.3 million from the settlement and are only trying to buy a $500,000 house” or
  • “She’s going to get $10,000/month in support…surely, any bank would be happy to have that loan” or
  • “There’s $1,000,000 equity in that house, any bank will do that loan all day long.”
  • “There’s no way she can qualify…”
  • “There’s not enough equity in the house…”

I cannot even tell you how fallacious those imaginations are in the home finance world.

Don’t assume anything other than – you have to get your divorcing client connected with me somehow.

Here’s the NON-Commercial (self-effacing) part: If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to get your client connected with ME, at least get them connected with some Divorce-Lending Specialist.

No. I don’t know any that are as good as I am. But, there are some who are, at least, trying. (OK, I am allowed some levity). So, at least, let’s give divorcing Texans a shot at

  • improved budgets that help folks avoid financing difficulties (remember that divorce is second only to job loss as the trigger for financial problems),
  • keeping their children in their home/schools/neighborhoods,
  • buying new homes – starting fresh,
  • being relieved of mortgage debts assigned to ex-spouses

And, while we’re at it – what about getting lawyers paid through home financing? Yep! Ask me about that one. Seriously! Ask.

At a certain point, it’s not about me – it’s about getting divorcing Texans prepared for proper home-financing that will accommodate their divorce settlement and enable them to be in the best financial situation possible.

I’m serious. There is no downside to getting divorcing clients connected with a Divorce-Lending Specialist.

Thanks for reading…and for taking action.

Noel Cookman - 972-724-2881; [email protected]

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