Take the Right Measures to Protect Yourself Before You File
You’ve tried to work out your marital problems, but you can’t find a solution. It’s obvious that you need to dissolve your marriage and get on with your life. You’ll have to take legal steps to do that, including filing for divorce. There are, though, a number of things you can do before you begin the legal process, which can help you resolve matters with less contention or controversy.
Step #1—Hire an Experienced Attorney
You may have no disagreements with your spouse and believe that you can work cooperatively together to terminate the marriage. Think about it, though. You couldn’t work together while you were married, so what makes you think you can work together now? Divorce, even when there’s seemingly little at stake, can still be a complicated process. You’re better off having an unbiased third party protecting your interests.
Step #2—Decide Whether You Want to File an At-Fault or a No-Fault Divorce
In Texas, as in every state, you have the option—you can allocate blame in a divorce proceeding or you can simply indicate that you and your spouse had “irreconcilable differences.” If you successfully argue that your spouse caused the divorce, whether through marital infidelity, physical abuse or other legitimate reason, you may get an advantage in custody, visitation, support or property disputes. A caveat, though—no-fault is not the same thing as uncontested. You may choose not to allege fault, but may also disagree as to what custody and visitation should look like.
Step #3—Have a Clear Picture of Your Marital Finances
Start by pulling together all relevant financial documents, including bank account statements, investment accounts, insurance policies, pay stubs, tax returns, W-2s and 1099s, retirement account statements, credit card statements, mortgages and any other loan or credit documents. Map out a plan for how you might fairly divide the debts and assets of the marriage. Identify any property you brought into the marriage or anything you received during the marriage as a gift or inheritance. Not only will it help you see how you’ll meet your obligations after divorce, but it will help facilitate the process of allocating assets under the community property laws in Texas.
Step #4—Deal Proactively with Credit Cards
Most importantly, you’ll need to convert your credit cards from joint to individual accounts. If possible, pay off the joint credit accounts and close them. Even if you get your spouse to agree to accept responsibility for a credit card in the divorce decree, a creditor may not honor that. If you can’t pay off the credit card, you can either request to convert it to your name only or ask the credit card company to suspend your privileges, so that no new charges can be made.
Step #5—Get All Your Documents in Order
The consequences of a divorce can be far-reaching. You will likely need to revise your estate planning and you’ll want to change the beneficiary on life insurance policies, retirement plans and investment portfolios.
Contact the Proven Family Law Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we have a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the laws governing divorce and family law in Texas, and can help protect your rights when your marriage has ended. We offer a free initial consultation to every client. To speak with a proven Texas family lawyer, contact us by e-mail or 844-402-2992 call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.