- 6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas
- STEP #1 – Make Sure Your Marriage Is Over
- STEP #2 – Get Legal Advice from a Texas Divorce Lawyer
- STEP #3 – Talk to an Attorney Before You Move Out the Marital Home
- STEP #4 – If You Have Had an Affair, Talk to a Lawyer Before You Talk To Your Spouse or Anyone Else
- STEP #5 – SAFEGUARD YOUR ASSETS AND YOU START DISCUSSING DIVORCE WITH YOUR SPOUSE
- STEP #6 – PREPARE FINANCIALLY BEFORE YOU START DISCUSSING DIVORCE WITH YOUR SPOUSE
- Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
- 5 Things To Consider Before Filing for Divorce
6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas
There are the six things you must do before you act on any thoughts you have about divorce. These steps are specific to Texas divorce but can be applied to divorce in many states.
It’s important to be certain you have done the things you need to feel good about your decision. Here are the top six things to do:
STEP #1 – Make Sure Your Marriage Is Over
In my blog article “49 Best Texas Divorce Advice Tips,” my first tip was, before you file for divorce, first make sure your marriage is over. You might want to consider seeking some divorce counseling even if you think there is no hope for the marriage.
You do not have to wait for your spouse to participate before seeking help from a counselor. Your employer, church, friends, or this office can provide you with recommendations for a counselor who may be able to help you and your spouse.
STEP #2 – Get Legal Advice from a Texas Divorce Lawyer
Even if you never end up hiring a Texas divorce lawyer to handle your divorce, we highly recommend you meet with and get as much information from an attorney as possible before you even discuss divorce with your spouse.
The divorce laws in Texas are a lot more complex than people realize. Even what many people believe to be very a simple situation can be very confusing to families already in distress. One of the important reasons why seeking legal advice sooner rather than later is that the actions you take now may very well affect your life during the divorce as well as the outcome of your divorce.
An example of this is one of my clients who decided he wanted to save money by not hiring a divorce lawyer. He thought his matter was simple and he and his wife would agree on everything. It turned out his wife did not his offer and she hired a divorce lawyer. The divorce lawyer set the case for a hearing and got the man kicked his house and got the wife spousal support.
The man then hired us to represent him in the divorce. We were able to help him get a fair settlement for the divorce and he did not have to pay spousal support after the divorce. Unfortunately, he was stuck with the outcome of the hearing while the divorce was ongoing, something that could have been easily prevented had he been represented from the beginning.
It is important to understand your options ahead of time, not some time down the road. It is often easier to prevent something than it is to fix something after the fact.
STEP #3 – Talk to an Attorney Before You Move Out the Marital Home
I am often asked by the people I meet with whether they can move the marital home. There is generally no one right answer that fits every circumstance. Generally, before advising someone, I want to know more about their life situation including:
- Has there been domestic violence?
- Are there children involved?
- Do you want to be able to say in the home during the divorce?
- Financial concerns and can you afford it?
- Do you want to use any of the property currently in the home?
- Will moving out affect your financial interest in the property?
- Emotional considerations.
Some things to consider when making a decision to leave:
- If you leave the house, you may not be able to return after a court hearing.
- Having to pay for an additional residence can be expensive.
- If your children are living in the marital home, this may limit your access to them.
I discuss this topic more in depth in my article “Should I move the marital home during a divorce?” and “Steps to Take Before Moving the Marital Residence During a Divorce.”
STEP #4 – If You Have Had an Affair, Talk to a Lawyer Before You Talk To Your Spouse or Anyone Else
Generally, in Texas, all financial matters will need to be disclosed to your spouse during a divorce. However, you do not have to go your way to let your spouse know that you have been having an affair. In fact, the admission of an affair to your spouse would be admissible in court and possibly can have dire consequences.
Texas is a no-fault divorce state, which essentially means that neither party necessarily has to prove the other spouse did anything wrong in order to get a divorce.
However, adultery matters in a divorce; if adultery can be proven, it can be used to support a request from the spouse not at fault for a disproportionate division of the community property between the parties.
This means any illicit sex with someone other than your spouse could end up costing you thousands. You can read more about this topic in my blog article “When is Cheating Considered Adultery in a Texas Divorce?”
STEP #5 – SAFEGUARD YOUR ASSETS AND YOU START DISCUSSING DIVORCE WITH YOUR SPOUSE
It is important for you to take certain precautions or possession of certain assets during a divorce such as:
- Pictures, family heirlooms, other sentimental objects;
- Valuables stored in safes such as cash, gold, or gems;
- Money in bank accounts that might be liquidated by your spouse.
In addition to securing the above items from your spouse, if you have filed for divorce, you can ask your attorney to also ask for a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting your spouse from transferring or otherwise disposing of any property covered by the restraining order.
I discuss this item in greater detail my blog article “49 Best Texas Divorce Advice Tips.”
STEP #6 – PREPARE FINANCIALLY BEFORE YOU START DISCUSSING DIVORCE WITH YOUR SPOUSE
Other protective measures you might consider in your divorce planning include:
- Protecting your own credit rating by freezing or closing joint cards and by blocking or removing your spouse’s access to other joint credit such as a home equity loan;
- Opening a separate bank account in only your own name;
- Changing the name on utility and other bills for which you are concerned your spouse might mess with; and
- Paying down joint bills first, marital property next, and your own separate property last.
You can read more about this in my blog articles “7 Important Ways to Financially Prepare for Your Texas Divorce” and “Should I Hide Money from my Spouse to Get Ready for my Texas Divorce?”
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form.
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.
5 Things To Consider Before Filing for Divorce
The stress of the holidays are over, but often a new strain looms on the horizon: separation or divorce. Divorce is exhausting, both emotionally and financially, so I spoke with Mischelle Luckett, managing partner of Luckett and Ashford, to get her advice on ways to prepare and items to consider before moving forward:
Do you suggest hiring an attorney before telling your spouse you want a divorce?
While you don’t need to have an attorney on retainer prior to informing your spouse of your plans to divorce, I would suggest at least consulting with an attorney.
This will give you a realistic expectation of what to expect as your begin the divorce process, as well as any additional options you may have. (e.g. legal separation).
An attorney can provide key topics to discuss with your spouse and the aspects to consider related to those topics that are tailored to your needs and the facts of your case.
Is there a difference between separation and divorce?
Yes, there is a difference between separation and divorce. A legal separation does not terminate the marriage.
Rather, the couple lives separately under terms agreed upon by the parties and approved by the court, or either dictated by the court in instances in which the parties could not come to an agreement.
The terms of the separation can be similar to a divorce, such as asset division, child support and maintenance (formerly known as alimony). Should the couple decide to divorce later, this will require additional legal proceedings.
How do you determine custody percentages for children?
Some states have moved away from terms such as “joint custody,” “sole custody” or “custody.” However, all states recognize the principles that the term custody embodies, which is decision-making responsibility for the minor children’s healthcare, education, religion, and extracurricular activities.
Courts tend to prefer parents share decision-making responsibility for their children equally. However, if the parties do not agree to do so, the state’s family court will decide what is in the “best interest of the child.
” Some of the factors used to determine the “best interest of the child” are: the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including the child and both parents; how much each parent participated in past decision-making responsibilities for the child; and the child’s needs.
Parents are encouraged to create their own parenting time schedule that will best suit the needs of their family.
If the parents are unable to agree on how to allocate parenting time, a judge in the state’s family court will allocate parenting time as the judge deems to be in the “best interests of the child.” Each state approaches this matter differently, so it’s important to consult with a local family law attorney.
Can a child decide who they want or live with?
A judge may take the child’s wishes into account when creating a parenting time schedule, considering the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences.
Do you have any advice on what to prepare before filing?
To build your financial strategy, you should analyze both your spouse’s and your own cash revenue for the previous six months.
Determine if you have enough money for legal fees, housing, and other necessary short-term expenses during the divorce process, or whether you need more time to gather the funds.
Also, assess any other monetary holdings you and your spouse have, such as stock, business interest, and other investments. If your budget allows, you could hire a financial planner to assess your current fiscal standing and, hopefully, make for an easier divorce settlement.
Another crucial step is to collect all documents. This includes tax returns (especially your spouse’s), bank statements, wills, trusts, loan documents, and insurance policies. You should also gather documents that can verify separate property, such as inheritance or family endowments.