How To Plan For Divorce
Divorce is a complex legal process involving many stages and a significant amount of paperwork. If you and your spouse were married for a long time, your lives may be completely intertwined, with joint accounts, shared property, and children. You must disconnect the life you have built together during a divorce, which can be complicated and emotionally challenging.
Having a comprehensive divorce plan can save a lot of time, money, and stress down the line. With adequate divorce preparation, you can hopefully speed up the divorce process, ensure your best interests are protected, and come to an amicable agreement without divorce court intervention.
The most important step in divorce preparation is to hire an experienced family law attorney who can offer strong legal advice and guide you smoothly through the process.
At Skillern Firm, we have a team of highly experienced family law lawyers that can help you plan for divorce to ensure you get a favorable outcome. Our lawyers will offer pre-divorce advice on your legal rights, entitlements, and a possible settlement outcome in your case.
Our law firm cares about putting our clients in a favorable situation so they can comfortably move on with their lives after a divorce. Divorce financially and emotionally drains people, and we want to do what we can to minimize the impact of divorce.
Three of our attorneys are Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and our family lawyers have won many accolades for our attorney-client relationship.
Preparing for divorce is a priority at Skillern Firm, and our Texas family attorneys will do everything we can to protect your interests.
Call our law firm today to arrange an initial consultation at 936-213-8479.
The Divorce Process in Texas
There are several steps involved in divorce proceedings in Texas. Being prepared for divorce involves understanding these steps, having the legal documentation necessary, and meeting the legal requirements. The best way to understand divorce proceedings is by speaking with an experienced attorney.
File For Divorce
To file for divorce in Texas, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months and lived within the county for at least ninety days. Either you or your spouse must file for divorce by submitting an Original Petition for Divorce.
In this petition, you must outline the type of divorce you are seeking, the grounds for divorce, separate property, and other relevant information. You must submit it with the filing fee in the county that you are living in.
Notify Your Spouse
Once you have filed for divorce, you must serve notice to the other spouse. Your spouse can sign a waiver of citation or you can hire a process server to notify them on your behalf. Your spouse must then submit a response to the petition, either agreeing to the divorce or contesting certain issues. They may raise a counter-petition or requests for relief.
Some issues must be resolved while waiting for the divorce to be finalized, like who remains in the family home, who has primary custody of the children, and who can use the shared vehicle. You or your spouse may request a temporary order hearing to resolve these issues temporarily while waiting for the final divorce decree.
The discovery phase is when all documentation, evidence, and information relating to the divorce are brought to light. This can include financial statements, shared bank accounts, property, retirement accounts, assets, stocks and bonds, and real estate. There may also be depositions and interviews during this stage, depending on the facts of your case.
Most divorce cases are resolved through effective negotiation, with the help of experienced family attorneys. If there are contested issues, like property division or child custody, your attorneys can represent you through negotiations to come to an amicable agreement with your spouse.
You and your spouse may decide to bring in a third-party mediator to help with the negotiation stage. An attorney can represent you during mediation to ensure your interests are protected.
Sometimes, mediation and negotiation do not work to resolve divorce issues. In these cases, your attorney may advise you to bring the case to trial to have a family court Judge decide. A trial is not advisable in most cases because often, neither party is happy with the outcome.
However, you should hire an attorney that has experience with both mediation and litigation to ensure that you are protected if the case goes to trial.
Mandatory Waiting Period
There is a mandatory waiting period of sixty days before a divorce can be finalized in Texas. Even if you and your spouse agree on all matters and have carefully planned your divorce beforehand, you must wait until this time period is up before you can receive the divorce decree.
However, there may be an exception to this waiting period if there was family violence involved in the relationship.
The last step in divorce proceedings is the Final Decree of Divorce. This order officially terminates the marriage between you and your spouse. The Final Decree of Divorce should provide guidance on important marital issues, including custody, support, property division, and other matters pertaining to the marriage.
Once you have this final decree handed down by a Judge, you can begin to move on to a new chapter of your life as a single person. It is important that you prepare for divorce to ensure that you get the best outcome possible, providing a solid foundation for moving forward.
How To Plan For Divorce
Divorce is rarely a straightforward process. The decision to get a divorce often comes after a lot of soul-searching, emotions, and tough conversations. Divorce emotionally and financially drains those involved, particularly when there are contested issues, children involved, and lots of financial assets.
Divorce preparation can make the process a lot smoother and help ensure that your interests are protected. Having a divorce planning checklist can help you organize your thoughts, understand the process better, and make informed decisions. It can also help ensure that your assets are better protected and that you have some financial independence after the divorce is finalized.
1. Gather a Support Team
The first step in divorce preparation is to gather a support team. Your support team should include financial support, emotional support, legal support, and whatever else you need to support you through the process, like a trusted family member or friend. Going through a divorce completely alone is never advised due to the emotional, financial, and mental challenges you may face.
The law does not require you to hire a divorce attorney in Texas. However, we believe it is a necessity in all divorce cases. The divorce process is quite complicated and there are a significant amount of legal documents, marital issues, and complexities involved. The outcome of a divorce will affect you for the rest of your life and it is in your best interests to get the best outcome possible.
Experienced family law attorneys are the best people equipped to guide you through divorce proceedings, help you understand your legal rights and entitlements, negotiate an amicable and fair divorce decree, and protect the best interests of your children.
Without a strong legal team, you could settle for an agreement that is not in your best interests and experience severe stress trying to handle it all alone. Your legal team will help you gather all documentation pertaining to your case, including your financial statements, evidence of fault, and other relevant paperwork. They will submit all documentation on your behalf and ensure that you meet the legal requirements for divorce.
Besides a strong legal team, you will also need an emotional support system. Going through a divorce is incredibly challenging and your entire life changes once you file for divorce. Dealing with this rollercoaster of emotions is tough and without an emotional support system, you may feel lonely, confused, isolated, and overwhelmed.
A support team could mean a family member or friend, or it could be professional help, like a licensed therapist or counselor. If you suffered emotional or physical abuse in the relationship, hiring professional help is strongly advised. Even if the divorce ends amicably, it is helpful to speak with a professional to process your emotions and put yourself in a healthy position moving forward with your life.
2. Gather Legal Documents
Unfortunately, divorce involves a lot of paperwork. This important paperwork can include bank statements, evidence of property ownership, proof of fault in a fault-based divorce, evidence of separate bank accounts and property, and documents involving your children.
Having a divorce checklist for all necessary documents is extremely helpful. An experienced attorney can help you gather all legal documents relevant to your case and ensure that everything is filed correctly and on time.
You will need to provide certain personal information to initiate a divorce. This includes proof of residency, your social security number, your passport or another legal document, work information, and your full legal address. Your attorney can help you gather this information to submit during the divorce.
Protecting your personal information in a divorce is also extremely important. If you have shared passwords and personal information with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, such as passwords to your bank account, email, and other important accounts, you need to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney regarding how to protect your information.
Important documents should also be kept separate from your spouse, like mail from your attorney. You should set up a separate post office box to receive documents and letters from your attorney during the divorce.
Evidence of Fault
If you decide to file for a fault-based divorce, on the grounds of adultery, cruelty, or abandonment, for example, you must provide substantial evidence proving the fault. The type of evidence you provide depends on the faults you are alleging.
If you are filing on adultery grounds, you must show that your spouse had voluntary sexual intercourse with another person during the marriage. The evidence you can provide includes text messages, photographs, bank statements, videos, witness testimony, or similar substantial proof.
3. Assess Personal Property
Texas is a community property state. This means that all property and assets gained during the marriage must be divided in a fair and just manner during a divorce. This does not mean an equal division of property, but what the courts view as equitable division. Any property that you acquired before the marriage is separate property.
Protecting your personal property and assets during a divorce is vital. This includes all your accounts, real estate, vehicles, investments, insurance policies, savings accounts, and your entitlements to shared property. You must provide evidence proving property ownership to ensure you get what you are entitled to and you do not lose out on assets.
Making a comprehensive inventory of all property involved in the marriage can help ensure that your spouse does not hide any assets. If there are hidden assets in the marriage, an experienced lawyer can help uncover these through an investigation. Your spouse could have hidden assets in offshore accounts, cryptocurrency, or in safety vaults.
Disclosure of financial information is made early on in the divorce process.. The necessary financial information includes your last two years of taxes, your last two payslips, credit card statements, and other financial paperwork. You must also note any debts that you owe, including rent or mortgage costs and credit card balances.
To identify your personal property and debts, get a copy of your credit report. Your credit report can help you identify debt and finances that you are responsible for. It is important to get your credit report before initiating a divorce, so you have an idea of your financial responsibilities.
4. Make Child Custody Plans
If there are children involved in the marriage, it is helpful to prepare child custody plans before the divorce proceedings. If you and your spouse have already split up and are living separately, you may have a functioning custody and visitation arrangement in place that you want to maintain.
You can draw up a visitation schedule and custody plan, outlining who has primary custody, where the children’s primary residence will be, when the visitation will take place, and where the visitation will take place. It may be helpful to include information about the children, such as their medical history, medication, school, daycare arrangements, and other important information.
If you and your spouse still live together in the marital home and do not have a custody arrangement in place, it may help to discuss this before initiating a divorce, if possible. You can discuss where the children should live and who should become the custodial parent. If one spouse has traditionally acted as the primary caregiver, it may be beneficial to maintain this arrangement after a divorce.
5. Prepare For Post-Divorce Life
Many people forget that there is a whole new life waiting for them after a divorce. Preparing for life after a divorce is essential to ensure a smooth transition and to provide a stable foundation for your future. Some things to help you prepare for life after divorce include:
- Emotional Support – Speaking with a family therapist or counselor can help you understand your emotions, learn to cope with life changes, and build a firm foundation for living on your own again. Having a support group of family and friends is also vital during and after a divorce.
- Financial Planning – It is important to plan financially to prepare for your life after a divorce. If your partner traditionally dealt with tax returns and financial affairs, you must learn to understand this on your own. It may be helpful to speak with a financial advisor who can help you plan for the future, create a budget, and set up bank accounts and retirement plans.
- Self-Care – Often, people do not prioritize self-care as much during a marriage, particularly when considering a divorce. It is helpful to begin prioritizing self-care during a divorce, like doing things you enjoy, exercising, spending time with friends, and setting personal and financial goals.
Adjusting to life after a divorce poses many unique challenges. It is important to be patient with yourself during this time, surround yourself with things you love, and take care of yourself. Try not to expect too much and take things as slowly as you need to.
Issues in The Divorce Process
The issues that arise during your divorce depend on the unique circumstances of your case, including the children involved, assets, and the relationship between you and your spouse. Some divorces are more straightforward and do not require significant negotiation and mediation.
Sometimes, a couple may opt for an uncontested divorce to speed up the process, particularly if the marriage was short and there were no children involved. However, regardless of whether you are filing for an uncontested or contested divorce, it is important to prepare for divorce as much as possible and seek advice from an attorney.
Some common issues that must be resolved during a divorce include:
Spousal support is a payment sometimes awarded in divorce cases to provide financial support to a dependent spouse. It is difficult to get spousal support, and it is only awarded when one spouse does not have the means to pay for basic needs after a divorce. Some situations where spousal support may be awarded include:
- The spouse seeking support payments has is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability,
- The spouse seeking support has been married to the other spouse for 10 years or longer and lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs, or
- The spouse seeking support is the primary carer for a child of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision due to a mental or physical disability, leaving the spouse unable to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs.
There are many limits on spousal support, including a financial cap and a time limit where there is no physical or mental disability involved. If you believe you are eligible for spousal support, you must speak with an attorney in advance. They can help you prepare for divorce and apply for spousal support during divorce proceedings.
Domestic or Substance Abuse
It is much more difficult to prepare for divorce when there was domestic or substance abuse involved in the relationship. You may need to get a protection order to keep your spouse away from you and your children, and you may fight for sole custody of your children to protect them from further harm.
Preparing for divorce from an abusive partner is frightening and you may be afraid of repercussions if they discover you are making divorce plans. The most important thing to do in these situations is to make your family members aware of your situation, get you and your children to a place of safety, and contact a lawyer immediately.
A lawyer can help you prepare for divorce from an abusive partner and help ensure that you do not suffer any further harm. If there was a lot of control and manipulation in the relationship, they may try to convince you to stay or to settle for less than you deserve. An experienced family attorney can help prevent this and ensure your best interests are protected.
Choosing The Right Family Law Attorneys For You
Choosing the right family law attorney to represent you during a divorce is the most important preparation you can do. There are a lot of divorce attorneys in Texas, and a lot of them promise success, which can make it quite difficult. The most important factor for you should be to choose an attorney that feels right, and that has your best interests at heart.
Your attorney should understand your situation, empathize with your case, ensure you understand the consequences of divorce, keep you informed throughout the process, and protect your best interests at all costs. When choosing the right divorce attorney for your case, consider the following factors:
Your divorce attorney should be highly experienced in handling divorce cases. It is important that they understand Texas divorce laws, know the ins and outs of the divorce proceedings, and are well-versed in all areas of family law, including custody, support payments, and asset division. Their experience should also include both mediation and litigation, as you want to be prepared for either eventuality.
It may be helpful to hire an attorney that has unique experience relating to the facts of your case. For example, if you are a woman who has experienced domestic abuse in your relationship, it is helpful to hire an attorney that has experience with domestic violence cases and can help protect you at all costs.
If you have a mental or physical disability and need to apply for spousal support, your attorney should have experience helping people in similar situations.
Hiring an attorney that is local to Texas is very important. Often, law firms operate throughout multiple states and have attorneys dealing with cases all over the country. With these big law firms, it is difficult to guarantee that your attorney has an in-depth understanding of local laws.
With a local Texas attorney, however, you can ensure that they understand Texas family laws and they have experience handling cases in the local courts. Skillern Firm is proud to solely represent Texas citizens in all family law matters. Our attorneys work exclusively within the local area, so we can meet up with the other side’s attorney in person to negotiate matters and have face-to-face meetings with our clients.
Our offices are in Houston, Sugar Land, and Katy; we represent clients throughout the local area, including in Harris County, Fort Bend County, and Montgomery County, Brazoria County,and Galveston County.
Focuses on Mediation
Getting an amicable divorce is the top priority for most divorcing couples in Texas. Usually, both you and your spouse will not want to create further tension, delay the legal process, increase costs, and put a strain on your children by having a contentious divorce. Because of this, it should be your priority to hire a divorce lawyer that focuses on mediation and negotiation rather than litigation.
Some divorce attorneys do not have the skills necessary to negotiate complex family law matters. They may bring the case to the family law court because it is easier for them, and protecting your well-being is not their top priority.
However, the attorneys at Skillern Firm have significant mediation and negotiation skills and we prioritize achieving an amicable outcome through effective negotiation. We bring in a third-party mediator, and represent you throughout these mediation discussions.
Of course, if we cannot achieve an amicable agreement through effective negotiation, we are fully prepared to take your case to court. We have a team of fierce litigators with significant trial experience, and we can use these skills to get the best outcome possible in your case.
Your divorce attorney should be available to discuss your case with you when you need it. It is important to remember that your attorney is not your therapist or support system, and they will not be available at all times of the day to discuss the case. However, they should provide regular updates on how the case is progressing and ensure that you are kept up to date.
If you need to raise an issue with your attorney, clarify a legal problem or concern that you have, or discuss an important matter in your case, they should be available to hear your concerns. If your attorney takes on too many cases at once, they may not provide you with the personalized attention that you need.
Contact Skillern Firm Today!
Divorce is a challenging time in anybody’s life. Trying to divide assets, split time with the children involved, and divide the life you had with your spouse to go your separate ways is emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting. Planning for divorce can help make this process smoother and prevent major bumps along the way.
The best way to effectively prepare for divorce is by hiring an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer that has significant experience handling divorces, dividing assets, making child custody arrangements, and fighting for spousal support can adequately prepare you for divorce proceedings.
The lawyers at Skillern Firm have the experience and skills necessary to ensure that your divorce goes as smoothly as possible. We want to help avoid any stressful situations, and we will prioritize mediation to try to amicably come to a final divorce decree.
Our attorneys can help you prepare for divorce by gathering documentation on your behalf, assessing your personal and shared property, drawing up a custody and visitation schedule, putting you in touch with financial advisors, and protecting your best interests. We care about protecting your future and putting you in the best possible situation after a divorce.