Updated on August 24, 2022
Your divorce will not be exactly like anyone else’s, but there are some basic tasks that every divorcing couple should take into consideration prior to beginning the divorce process in Texas. The fact is that the more preparation you put into your divorce, the better off you will be.
If you are preparing for a Texas divorce, it is important to move forward with a plan—rather than to simply hurl yourself into a divorce and hope for the best. By considering your options carefully and moving forward with purpose, you help to ensure that your financial and parental rights are well protected throughout.
It is advisable to contact a knowledgeable attorney to help you prepare for your divorce in Texas. A Killeen divorce attorney at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard will help you navigate the legal process and ensure that you do everything you need to prepare for your divorce.
Face the Divorce Question
You did not marry with the intention of divorcing, and you may not have even considered it a possibility. Sometimes, however, couples have to face the fact that divorce has become their best option. If you are considering divorce, take the time to truly contemplate whether divorce is the resolution you seek.
If you are not sure that divorce is the answer, take the time to explore your options and make the right decisions for you. It is important to remember that divorce will not only disrupt your children’s lives but will also take a significant financial and emotional toll.
Speaking with a couple’s counselor or therapist can help you get in closer touch with where you actually are in your marriage. Your trusted friends, family members, congregants at your place of worship, and your family law firm are all good resources for finding a counselor who is a good fit. (Read more: “Can Your Marriage Be Saved?”)
If you have made the difficult decision that divorce is right for you, then it is time to commit to the process and take the necessary steps forward. If you are at this point, it can help to look at divorce as the gateway to your post-divorce future. Doing your due diligence prior to—or soon after—filing can help you keep your divorce moving forward with purpose.
Consult with an Experienced Divorce Attorney
The best step forward toward divorce—regardless of your situation—is to consult with an experienced divorce attorney. Taking this step does not mean that you will necessarily file for divorce before discussing the matter with your spouse, but it will allow you to better understand what your options are and how best to proceed.
Depending upon the circumstances involved, your experienced divorce attorney may or may not advise you to file for divorce prior to discussing your decision with your spouse. If you have a good chance of keeping your divorce uncontested, your divorce attorney is very likely to recommend that you discuss it first and file after.
Because divorce is so difficult and so fraught with emotions, you may be tempted to forego a careful decision-making process in favor of a quick fix—moving out of your marital home, for example. This is rarely in your best interest and is likely to result in unexpected consequences. Discuss major decisions like this with your divorce attorney before you proceed.
Divorce is a complicated legal matter. The outcome of yours will reverberate into your and your children’s future in significant ways that you may not have even considered. Finding a divorce attorney with whom you are comfortable working and who inspires your confidence is critical.
The divorce decisions that you make now are too important to leave to chance. Working closely with an experienced Killeen divorce attorney will help ensure that your rights are well protected throughout the legal process.
Discuss the Matter with Your Spouse
Because an uncontested divorce in which you are both willing to negotiate terms between yourselves is nearly always preferable, the first step you may want to take is discussing your decision to seek a divorce with your spouse.
No one likes to be blindsided, and even if your spouse sees the writing on the wall, taking the time to discuss the issue with him or her can go a long way toward keeping the peace. There are, however, situations in which this approach isn’t your best option, and making this distinction can be complicated.
Prepare Financially for a Divorce
As you probably know, divorce is a costly process. The cost of your divorce depends on several factors. Before you file for divorce, it is important to make sure that you are prepared for it financially.
The legal costs and attorney’s fees are not the only expenses you should prepare for. For many people, housing expenses associated with moving to a new place after filing for divorce can have a significant impact on their budget.
If you lived with your spouse during your marriage, one of you will have to move out and find a new apartment or house while the divorce pends, unless, of course, you are prepared to live together during this time. You should consider housing costs even if you stay in the home. Can you afford housing bills and living costs on your own if your spouse no longer pays their share?
When going through a divorce in Texas, it takes a lot of planning to make sure that you can survive the divorce process financially. If you are unemployed or have a part-time job, you may need to find a new job to earn enough income to cover your housing expenses during the divorce.
Obtain Credit in Your Own Name
If you don’t have any credit in your name alone, now is an excellent time to change that. Having a healthy credit score is necessary for taking advantage of many financial opportunities and for moving forward in an independent life. Steadily building your own personal credit score after divorce is far easier than attempting to bring up a low score brought on by inattention.
Building your credit can be as easy as opening a new credit account. Obtaining a credit card that you use and pay according to its terms can do wonders for your credit.
Forge a Working Knowledge of Your Marital Assets and Debts
If you are not closely involved with your family’s financials, it is time to become better acquainted with your marital assets and debts. Your divorce settlement will hinge upon these numbers, and it is important that you have a working knowledge of what is involved.
Work closely with your knowledgeable Killeen divorce attorney to help ensure that your financial rights are well represented throughout the divorce process. If your divorcing spouse is in charge of your joint finances, it can make obtaining a reliable financial snapshot both more difficult and more important.
Understand the Division of Marital Property in Texas
Texas is a community property state. This means that your marital assets and debts will be divided according to what is considered to be “just and right.” This does not mean that the court will split your marital property down the middle. If you and your spouse are unable to come to a settlement agreement, the court will get involved and will determine your settlement for you.
Move Forward with a Plan
The worst thing you can do after determining you need a divorce is rushing forward with no plan in place. Filing for divorce requires careful planning, and without a map forward, you are far more likely to lose sight of your divorce priorities and to be less well-prepared to protect your rights throughout the legal process.
It is essential that you map out the divorce process for your case and take into account your divorce priorities. Consult with a divorce lawyer to help you build a solid plan to protect your rights during divorce.
Gather Information to Prepare for Your Divorce
If you are considering filing for divorce, you can start gathering the necessary information and compiling the documentation for your divorce case. Being organized and proactive can give you an edge.
Documents are the pieces that make up the puzzle of your marital financials, which is why there is no such thing as collecting too many. If it is a document that pertains to either you or your spouse, it could be relevant, and you should have a copy. Some of the basics include the following forms of documentation:
Your mortgage statements
Information about your and your spouse’s employment and salary
Your and your spouse’s separate and joint bank account and credit card statements
Your income taxes for the last several years
Titles to your vehicles
Payment information for any vehicles you are in the process of purchasing
Corporate and partnership tax returns
Retirement account and pension plan statements
Investment account statements
Proof of state residency
Real estate appraisals or market value opinions
Life insurance policies
Social Security benefits statements
Documentation of any other assets owned by either of you separately or by both of you jointly
Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
Information about previous marriages
Information about children
Current custody arrangements
This is not the full list of documents that you need to prepare for your divorce case in Texas, but gathering as much information as possible before filing for divorce can help you save time, energy, and money during the divorce process.
Once you have gathered all the necessary information and documentation for your divorce, you can proceed with filing an Original Petition for Divorce. It is advisable to contact an attorney to help you prepare the divorce paperwork and ensure that you fill out the forms correctly.
If you are not fully aware of your finances and property when filing for divorce, do not worry. Texas law requires both spouses to complete financial affidavits during the divorce proceedings to ensure that all assets and liabilities are accounted for.
Make a Budget that Addresses Your Finances
Your budget—just like your divorce—is unique to you and your living situation. In order to negotiate for financial terms that support your best interests, you need to have a solid working knowledge of your household budget.
The fact is that you will almost certainly live on less once you are divorced. Many people downsize their homes and make other important financial adjustments to address this fact. Your budget should carefully address your housing needs and costs, along with the other regular expenses you will face, including the following expenses:
Your mortgage and the cost of your utilities
The cost of your life, health, home, and car insurance, as well as any other policies you carry
Your and your children’s average (and any ongoing) medical expenses
The cost of groceries for you and your children
The cost of clothing for you and your children
The cost of your children’s education and daycare
Your children’s extracurricular expenses
Your transportation expenses, including your car payment and the cost of gas
The cost of your monthly memberships and subscriptions
Your entertainment and vacation expenses
The legal costs associated with a Killeen divorce lawyer
Any other pertinent expenses
You may also experience expenses that are unique to your situation. Divorces involving business ownership, high assets, or other financial complications tend to require more in-depth efforts. You know your situation best, so make your budget as detailed as possible to defend your financial rights during your divorce.
Negotiate Your Child Custody Arrangements
As hard as divorce is on you, it is likely to be even more difficult for your children. If you and your divorcing spouse can find a middle ground on the matter of child custody, you can spare your children some of the heartache involved in divorce.
Even if you and your spouse do not see eye-to-eye on the issue of child custody from the outset, the option of mediation is available. You will be best prepared to negotiate effectively if you have a good understanding of your priorities regarding child custody arrangements.
Outline Your Priorities
You have your own unique divorce priorities. It is essential to recognize and vocalize these priorities as well as you can. You cannot strategize an effective plan to reach your goals if you are not able to outline your goals.
Review all of the following significant components of divorce and consider which are most important to you and which are open to compromise:
The Division of Your Marital Property
In Texas, the property that you and your spouse acquired as a married couple is divided in a manner considered just and right—or fair—upon divorce. Getting this division done correctly is critical to your future financials.
Your Child Custody Arrangements
If you have children, your child custody arrangements are your top priority and should receive your closest attention.
Child support is based on state calculation guidelines and is usually paid to the primary custodial parent by the parent with the visitation schedule.
Alimony (or spousal support) comes into play when one spouse has a post-divorce financial need while the other has the financial ability to help.
Each of these components, as applicable, will play an essential role in your post-divorce future. The more forethought you put into each of these issues and the more negotiating you do in good faith regarding each, the less chance there is that you will need the court to intervene on your behalf. Contact a lawyer today to create a plan that will protect your divorce priorities.
Consider Other Helpful Steps toward Divorce
As you are preparing for divorce consider these other steps to help you work towards a smooth and efficient divorce in Texas:
Consider marriage counseling if there is a chance for reconciliation.
Make a list of all the property and assets that rightfully belong to you.
Decide whether you want to stay in the marital house or move out to find a new place to live during the divorce process.
Make sure that you have enough money to afford the living expenses after moving out or staying in the marital residence.
If you have a Last Will and Testament, consider updating it if you are planning to file for divorce.
Open a credit card, a checking account, and a savings account in your name.
Get a free credit report.
Hire a Killeen divorce attorney and formulate a plan forward with him or her.
Remain willing to negotiate with your ex without losing sight of your rights and priorities.
Divorce is a difficult process, but the more effort you put into your preplanning, the better prepared you’ll be.
Your lawyer will help you stay organized throughout the divorce process to ensure that you secure a favorable outcome in your case. Schedule a FREE case review with our divorce lawyers at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to talk about your situation.
An Experienced Killeen Divorce Attorney Can Help
Many people overlook the importance of hiring a skilled attorney when filing for divorce. However, being represented by a knowledgeable divorce attorney can make a huge difference in your case.
Your divorce attorney will help you prepare for the divorce and navigate the legal process. Your attorney will also compile all the documents and information you need to move forward with your case.
The path toward divorce is often rocky, but Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is an accomplished divorce attorney with the legal skill, savvy, and drive to efficiently ensure that you obtain divorce terms that work for you. We are here to help, so please do not wait to contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222 today.