While there is no such thing as a smooth divorce, the actions you take during the process can mean the difference between an extremely difficult progression and a less difficult one. You should act based on a strategy, even when you cannot fully control the events. And, not only must you protect yourself legally, but you should also take care of yourself personally. Here are some steps you can take to effectively prepare yourself for divorce.
Consider Closing Joint Accounts
Any debts the other spouse runs up during the divorce process could become your responsibility if your name is on the account – or even if not. In a community property state, you assume responsibility for half of the community’s debt. As soon as you know you will be getting divorced, you should close joint accounts or take your name off of them. You can open up your own credit cards in your name. If you have a joint bank account, you should untangle it, so your spouse cannot raid it. At the same time, you should not take any actions that would leave your spouse with nothing.
Change Your Passwords and Mailing Addresses
When you are in the divorce process (and afterward), you need to have access to private and protected information. The last thing you want is for your spouse to be able to gain access to your own personal and private email and mail. Even if you do not think your spouse knows your passwords, you should assume they do and change them. If your spouse accesses your phone or email, they could get their hands on sensitive information about your life and finances they may try to use to harm your financial situation or even against you in court. In addition, make sure to change the mailing addresses on your accounts so your spouse cannot access communications and/or statements from your bank, credit card company, and other financial institutions.
Build Your Own Savings
Divorces can be expensive. Not only will you need to pay for an attorney, but you will also need to come up with the money to start a new household. If you still have joint bank or credit accounts, your ability to spend money on what you need can be tightly limited and controlled. In addition, you may also need to pay spousal support or child support before (and after) the divorce is finalized. Plus, not having money available to pay for your legal expenses could handicap your ability to get divorced with fair terms. Make sure you have access to your own money during the pendency of the divorce (although you cannot unilaterally clean out joint bank accounts).
Protect Your Credit
In a divorce, your credit can be on the line because of actions your spouse takes. You should order a credit report and set up alerts to monitor whether your spouse opens any accounts in your name. Close all joint credit cards. If you notice any hard inquiries on your credit, it may be a sign your spouse is trying to open accounts in your name. If they are, you will need to take action.
There are many things you will need to stay on top of during a divorce. You may have phone calls with your attorney and will likely have court dates and deadlines. In addition, your life will also be changing at a rapid rate, which will make it easy for things to fall through the cracks. You should keep a calendar to remember all your appointments. You should also take steps to gather all relevant documents because you will need to provide them to your attorney and possibly to your spouse during the course of discovery, if applicable.
Speak to a Therapist
Beyond the legal details of the divorce, you will also need to take care of yourself personally. Divorce is one of the most difficult and traumatic experiences a person can go through in their life. You are dealing with a major life change at the same time you are going through a legal battle. This can be more than many people can handle. Maintaining your mental health can be every bit as important as getting assistance with legal matters. A therapist can help you navigate difficult times. Not only must you tend to yourself emotionally for the sake of your family, but it will also help you make better decisions throughout the divorce process.
Plan Your Custody Case
If there are children involved in the divorce, you will need a parenting plan that will determine who has custody of them and when each parent has access. The decisions you make now may be the ones you and your children are bound to live with for years. Before you make any agreements on a parenting plan, you need to review your own situation with an experienced Texas family lawyer to ensure you are making the best possible decisions and agreements for yourself and your children. You should understand the logistics of child custody to ensure you are able to spend the amount of time with your children to which you are committing. In addition, you should review your work situation and childcare needs to come up with a viable solution that is in the best interests of your children.
Contact a Texas Divorce Attorney
One of the most important calls you can make when preparing for a divorce is to an experienced attorney. There is simply so much a person does not know about the divorce process (nor should they know). An experienced Texas divorce attorney will give you practical advice on how to handle the situation and what to do to prepare. Then, when the process is underway, your lawyer will work on the details of the divorce. They can negotiate a parenting plan and the financial division of assets. These are decisions and negotiations you should not be handling on your own, given the tendency for divorcing spouses to let emotions get in the way of rational thinking.
To schedule a consultation, contact us today. Our Brazoria County, Texas family law attorneys are ready to help.