While going through a divorce in Texas is never a completely seamless process, there are a few steps you can take in order to make the process a bit easier.
Much of the preparation for a divorce is centered on collecting documents and preparing yourself financially. First, you should attempt to gather as many of the following documents as possible:
- Income tax returns for the last five years
- Income reporting statements (W-2, 1099, K-1, etc.) for both you and your spouse for the last five years
- Paycheck stubs for both you and your spouse for the last three months
- The three most recent statements for all debts owed by either you or your spouse
- The most recent statement for any retirement funds (401k, IRA, etc.) owned by either you or your spouse
- Any Social Security Administration statements for you or your spouse
- Any deeds and closing files for any real estate owned by you or your spouse
- Any titles for any vehicles owned by you or your spouse
- Any appraisals of any property owned by you or your spouse
While this list is not exhaustive, it is a good starting point for evaluating the various marital estates involved in your divorce. If you cannot obtain copies of these documents prior to filing your divorce in Texas, that is fine as well. Most of these documents can be obtained from your spouse or from third parties once the divorce proceeding have been initiated in a Texas court.
In order to prepare yourself financially for a divorce, you should ensure you have sufficient funds to pay for attorney’s fees. It is very difficult to judge exactly how much your divorce may cost, particularly at the very beginning. If you anticipate a fight from your spouse from the very beginning, you should be prepared to have between $5,000 and $10,000 before filing for divorce. This is particularly true if you have children. If you anticipate reaching an agreement early on, $2,000 to $3,000 should be sufficient. Also, don’t assume that you will not need more funds later on. Begin making plans now for the possible need to pay more attorney’s fees later on. Many of our Texas divorce clients find that having a very frank discussion about your finances with family and close friends can often lead to the financial assistance you need in order to make it through this very tough time.
Also, if you maintain a joint bank account with your spouse, open up a new checking account early on. If you receive your paychecks from your employer by direct deposit, find out what process is required in order to redirect your paychecks to a different account. Ensure that by the time you file for divorce in a Texas court, your paychecks are going to the new account to which your spouse has no access.
A critical mistake some parties make early on in divorces in Texas is leaving their spouse with absolutely no funds in joint bank accounts. Generally, you should only take from the account what you will need in order to meet your immediate financial needs, including renting a new home and paying a retainer to your attorney. Courts do not look kindly upon parties who take all of the money and run.
If you have questions about how you can properly prepare for a divorce in Texas, just give our Houston divorce attorney, Bobby L. Warren, a call at 713-579-9702.