How to Prepare Yourself to File for Divorce
If your considering filing for divorce, you are going to face a myriad of emotional and practical issues to work through. Many clients describe the divorce process as an “emotional roller coaster.” While we can't eliminate all of the ups and downs of the process, we can help you prepare for the practical issues that come with dissolving a marriage. Here are a few steps to help take some of the surprise twists and turns out of the roller coaster ride.
- Educate Yourself About Your Finances. If your spouse always took care of the bills, it's time for you to take the necessary steps to learn everything there is to know about your financial situations. You need to gain access to all accounts, to your financial advisers, and your CPA. Make copies of bank records, tax returns, all year-end financial statements, work-related documents (W-2s, 1099s, 401(k), Individual Retirement Account, pension) and investment statements.
- List Your Assets. Make a list of all assets owned by you and your spouse. This includes your home, vehicles, and any other property owned. Include all bank accounts, retirement accounts and investment accounts. If there is significant property contained within the home, make a list of it and its approximate value.
- Identify Separate Property. Texas is a community property state and there is a presumption that all property belongs to both spouses jointly. Separate property is property that can be shown to belong to one spouse and not be subject to division between the spouses in a divorce proceeding. Some types of separate property, or nonmarital assets, include inherited property, property owned by one spouse before the marriage, gifts given to one spouse, or proceeds from personal injuries. Sometimes separate property and marital property are commingled. If that happens, it is very important to have a paper trail documenting the assets' activity to be able to claim the property is separate property.
- Focus on the Kids. If you have children, you must make sure they remain the top priority throughout this. Whatever you do, do not allow your children to become pawns in the divorce battle. If the children's other parent is safe, it is vitally important that children maintain a stable relationship with both parents. If the children's other parent isn't safe, then there are steps we can take to ensure that your children are safe. Either way, start making a list of parenting issues and visitation options. Do everything you can to keep as much consistency in your children's lives as possible during this time. Keep up as many as their normal routines as possible
- Be On Your Best Behavior. In other words, don't do stupid stuff. Remember that you are about to be in court and everything you are doing is being watched. Consider yourself to be under a microscope—so no alcohol, no drugs, no questionable behavior. Put your love life on hold and stay single. No online dating! Change passwords on all social media accounts and don't post anything that you would not want shown to the judge at the divorce hearing.
- Get an Experienced Divorce Lawyer. Even when you and your spouse agree to divorce, it is still one of the most difficult, confusing and stressful times in your life. If your case is contested, things can get very ugly very fast. You need an experienced divorce attorney who will be able to walk you through this process. Jessica McDonald is an experienced family law attorney who can help you every step of the way.
Call us today to discuss your case. 903.458.9108