Many couples who choose to divorce don’t always come to the same conclusion easily. Let’s face it… Hiring a divorce attorney and getting a divorce can be a complicated, lengthy, and even messy affair. There are even more layers of complexity when the couple has children under the age of 18, multiple estates, or various assets.
Of course, everyone’s ideal scenario is to be amicable about all decisions to come to a clean end. However, the reality is that there are many serious situations to consider, like the division of assets, child custody, child support, alimony, etc.
Having a divorce attorney is extremely helpful as you go through the process. But there are also a few things you can and must do on your own to properly prepare for your impending divorce. Yes, every situation is different, but these are tips anyone can and should use beforehand to ensure a smoother transition.
Tips You & Your Divorce Attorney Can Use To Prepare
If you already have an attorney you can trust, great! Work with them to flesh out as many details as possible so that they can present the best possible strategy for your case.
Here are some actions you can take to prepare before you file for divorce.
1. Protect Your Mental Health
If possible, talk to a mental health professional before and during your divorce. Even if you don’t feel like you need outside therapy, it can come in handy when things get tough.
Divorce affects everyone differently, and there’s no right or wrong way to feel about it. Your family and friends can be supportive, but they’ll usually be biased toward the situation. It helps to speak to a third-party professional who can walk you through your emotions, actions, and any other topics you want to discuss. This type of support can make the process easier for you to focus on other vital aspects of your life like your children, work, or hobbies that make you happy.
Don’t let the cost of hiring a mental health professional help get you down. There are affordable therapy methods in Houston out there. You can also talk to your divorce attorney about their recommendations if you prefer word-of-mouth advice.
2. Assess Your Financial Situation
Addressing your finances is one of the most critical things you can do before filing. Understanding your financial standing makes discussing your options with your divorce lawyer more seamless.
On average, Texas divorce lawyers charge between $260 and $320 per hour. After you take a look at your net worth, income, spending, and all other takeaways, consider this hourly rate and additional court costs and fees moving forward. Before you ask, you can pay for online divorce services, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Companies that promise a “quick” or “cheap” divorce often come with their own set of problems like:
- Uncomprehensive services
- Incorrect filing
- Zero sound legal advice
- No previous review of documents
- Lack of Texas family and divorce law knowledge
- Extra time needed to file again correctly and show up in court
If you are not in charge of the finances between you and your spouse, it’s important to gather as much information as you can to present to your attorney. This will help them have a more realistic view of your situation to strategize accordingly.
3. Gather Important Documents For Your Divorce Attorney
Immediately after assessing your financial situation, you need to gather the right documents to prove it. This will give you and your divorce attorney a clearer picture of what you owe versus what you make. Documentation will include items such as:
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Pay stubs
- Student loan statements
- Other loan documents (car, home, etc.)
- Medical bills
If the idea of getting these items together is overwhelming, do yourself a favor and tackle one bit at a time. For example, if you plan on filing for divorce in the next two months, use a week at a time to go down your list and check off each item.
4. Attend Parenting Classes
If you have children, consider attending a parenting class. Doing so can prove that you are investing in the well-being of your children, committing to open communication, and are willing to work with your ex moving forward. Even if you cannot stand the sight of your spouse, it’s important to the court that you focus on putting your children and their needs first.
Furthermore, many family courts in Texas actually require a parenting class before making your divorce final. Get ahead of orders by looking into and attending a class on your own beforehand. Many classes only take a few hours to complete in one sitting. Check this off of your to-do list early and spend less time worrying about whether or not you need to.
If it helps, you can look at it from another perspective. For example, if your spouse takes the class and you don’t, how do you think it will look to the court? A judge is more likely to favor the requests of the parent who puts in extra effort to ensure the mental and physical health of their child or children.
5. Talk To An Experienced Divorce Attorney
Taking the above steps before speaking to an attorney will help move things along tremendously. It also gives you and your attorney more time to find a strategy because the facts of your case are available and organized. It may seem trivial, but preparing before you hire an attorney can lower your overall bill, produce a more comprehensive strategy, and save you and your lawyer time moving forward.
Your divorce attorney will help you greatly throughout the process, but they cannot pull your essential documents for you. However, they will be familiar with family law, divorce proceedings, and so on. This ensures you are filing correctly with all necessary information and building a case that works best for you to negotiate and settle.
6. Determine Other Methods Of Support
Many days may leave you feeling like you’re going through your divorce alone. You used to turn to your partner for support and advice. However, they may no longer be available for you during the divorce process. This is why it’s extremely important to remember you are not alone, and there are other tools available to help.
Join a group, hire extra help, and use one or several of the following to make the transition easier:
- Professional mental help for your children
- Support group for individuals going through divorce
- Counseling or group support through church
- Experienced legal team
- Financial advisers
- Friends and family who have your best interests at heart
Don’t underestimate the power of support through others. There are others out there who are willing to help and connect with you about your divorce.
7. Plan On How To Inform Your Family
If you can work with your spouse on this one, that’s great! Otherwise, do what you can to prepare how you tell others about your divorce, especially if you have children.
One of the best ways to do this is to write down what you want to say and step away from it for a day or two. Go back to your writing and edit it with a fresh mind. You must avoid bad-mouthing your spouse, revealing too much, and sharing details that are too personal or inappropriate for their age.
The idea here is to inform your kids about what’s happening and let them know you love them and are there to guide them in any way possible if they need you. Leave room for them to ask questions, react with openness, or simply leave them alone. There is no one true way to feel about divorce, and your children have the right to process it independently.
8. Be Careful About What You Say
Even if it is hard to do so, make every effort not to speak poorly about your spouse, your marriage, or anything else too personal in front of your children.
Regardless of age, divorce can cause emotional trauma in children. Before, during, and after your divorce is a critical time for your kids to see that their needs and feelings are still a priority. Your spouse may soon be your ex, but they are also still a part of your family and the other parent to your children. Aside from the issues in your marriage, your children have a right to feel safe and stable at home.
9. Ask For Extra Resources If You Need Them
Don’t forget to turn to your team of professionals and ask about issues covering:
- Future tax returns
- Establishing coverage for legal and court fees
- Special requests you need to make before filing
- Medical benefits
- Reassessing your accounts
- Support for physical or emotional abuse
Divorce Attorney Of Daniels Law Firm Works For Houstonians Like You
When you need an experienced attorney to help you through your divorce, you need the fierce advocacy of Cassandra Daniels. Reach out to Daniels Law Firm today.