Divorce Planning Lawyer in Houston TX
When it comes to divorce, not everyone has the luxury of being able to plan and prepare for it. Sometimes, you are served with papers out of the blue and must scramble to respond. If, however, you are fortunate enough to be able to plan aspects of your family law matter, there are specific things you should do before filing your suit.
- Talk to a lawyer. Most lawyers will offer a free or discounted initial consultation. You should prepare for this meeting and ask specific questions. Use this opportunity to get an idea of how long the process may take, what to expect, and advice on preparing for your individual case. Also, ask the lawyer questions about what you can expect during their representation. Of course, their fees will be important, but you will also want to ask how long they have been practicing, and if they have worked on cases like yours. Ask them who will take care of you if they are in a week-long trial or on vacation. You need to make sure your lawyer is a good fit, so take a moment to determine whether they are the right professional for you.
- Start saving. You will need to have money set aside to pay for a lawyer and other court costs. More importantly, you will need to start budgeting with the understanding that you will no longer be enjoying a two-income home. You may need to absorb the costs of moving expenses, child support, or increased debt repayments.
- Start organizing. Divorce cases are paperwork heavy. In order to get an idea of the value of the marital estate, documents like tax returns, bank statements, real estate deeds, mortgage statements, and other items are crucial. If there is some question about whether or not a piece of property is separate or community, proving its character with documentary evidence can be critical. If you have time to plan for divorce, then you will be able to find and copy important documents before you move out of the house. Keep them in a safe place. If you can, also write down important account numbers and make an inventory of your property – especially the ‘big ticket’ items. Estimate their value. Doing this exercise early will save you time and money down the line.
- Think about the kids. If you and your spouse have kids, try to address the topic of separation with your spouse. You should both come up with a plan to discuss the divorce with your children in a way that is honest but optimistic. If you need extra help, seek out the advice of their school counselor or a family therapist. Of course, in particularly acrimonious relationships, it is not always possible to come up with a joint agreement on how you will handle telling the children. Regardless, you should be prepared to discuss divorce with your kids even if your spouse is not cooperative. Remember, the best interest of the children must always come before yours. Try to set aside your emotions when discussing the split and never speak ill of your spouse. That can come back to haunt you in the event custody is disputed.
- Get secure. If you and your spouse share things like email addresses, bank accounts, calendars, or debit cards, think about how you’d like to separate them. You should get a P.O. box to start receiving your mail. Get a private email address. If your spouse knows any of your passwords on social media, change them. Open up a separate account and if you remove money from a joint account, take only half. Remember that your daily expenses will probably come from the joint account and plan accordingly. If the light bill is not paid or there are insufficient funds to pay the mortgage, this can have financial ramifications for both you and your spouse.