Preparing to file for divorce in Texas, but concerned about the cost? Based on our firm’s experience in dealing with divorces over the years, we have noticed a trend in steps that clients can take in order to substantially reduce their costs in a Texas divorce.
- Sit down and have a mature, thoughtful conversation with your spouse about dividing assets, access and possession of the kids, and child support – For many, this can be a very difficult task. For others, this is a natural step that must be taken before visiting with their Texas divorce attorney. In either case, the more issues upon which you and your spouse agree upon when you file for divorce, the less costly that divorce is likely to become. The stark reality is that the attorneys involved in a divorce generally do not dictate the total cost of the divorce – the spouses involved in the divorce ultimately decide how costly the divorce will become. When a client comes to our office and provides us with a complete picture of what they and their spouse have agreed upon, they usually spend less than a few thousand dollars. This is true even when their assets are complex and of high value. On the other hand, those who come to our office with no agreement and no prospects for an agreement can spend tens of thousands of dollars on a divorce with a relatively modest community estate at stake.
- As soon as possible, begin collecting important documents which evidence the assets each of you own and when those assets were acquired. Such documents will include the file you received when closing on your home, titles to vehicles, motorcycles, or boats, and certificates for stocks and bonds. For bank accounts, ensure you have statements going back at least a year. Most banks provide access to such statements for free online. As soon as possible, go online and download each of those statements in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). The same should be done for quarterly statements for any retirement funds you own, including 401(k), 403(b), IRA’s or pensions. You should be prepared to turn these documents over to your attorney as early in the process as possible. Attorneys in Texas divorces often need to refer to these documents in order to assist you in determining whether the assets are separate property or community property. In addition, the value of the assets are often at issue, and these documents can assist in determining the value of each. Finally, you should also ensure you have income tax returns for the last five years and paycheck stubs for at least the last six pay periods. These documents can become important in divorces in Texas when child support or spousal maintenance are at issue.
- When you speak with your attorney, determine what technology that attorney utilizes to communicate with clients and manage their cases. For example, in our office e-mail is a very cost effective means of communicating with clients. Although it may take you quite some time to type out an e-mail, it may only take your attorney minutes to read it and comprehend the information you need to provide to him or her. Yet, you may have saved money by not taking that attorney’s time on the phone to explain the situation. Also, our office uses an online case management system in order to communicate with clients, share documents and keep track of hearings, meetings and other events. By taking full advantage of these systems while in the midst of a divorce in Texas, you will likely save money by saving time for your attorney. For example, we encourage clients to scan and upload documents to our secure online case management system. If the clients simply handed us hard copies of the documents, we would need to scan and upload those documents ourselves. Find out from your attorney how you can save them time by utilizing these resources.
By following these tips and reducing the amount of time your attorney must focus on your case, you can dramatically reduce your costs in a Texas divorce. For more information on how our office can help you obtain a divorce in a cost effective manner, call our Houston divorce attorney, Bobby L. Warren, at 713-579-9702.