Divorce is a serious decision, one that merits careful consideration before moving forward. Just as you would not make other major life decisions without planning and preparation, you should not proceed with the divorce process until you have the appropriate groundwork in place.
Legal separation is not an option in Texas, but there are steps that you can take to prepare for what lies ahead, financially and emotionally. Before you make any life-altering decisions or file papers, you need the counsel of a lawyer who can walk you through the process and assist you in planning for divorce.
What do you need for strategic and financial divorce planning?
One of the most important things to do before divorce is to make the effort to prepare for the financial disputes and challenges that are ahead. A fair property division settlement is contingent on the full disclosure of all debts and assets, and you must have the following in order to seek your rightful share of marital property:
- Copies of tax returns and tax documents from the last two years
- Access to all financial accounts, including checking and savings accounts
- Information regarding retirement accounts, pensions and 401(k) accounts
- Recent credit reports
- Current assessment of both marital and separate property
- Pay stubs
- Knowledge of where your assets are located
Once these items are gathered, you may work with your lawyer to establish reasonable expectations regarding a property division settlement. In addition to financial planning, strategic planning concerning your children is also important, including consideration of the following factors:
- Close knowledge of your child's education needs and development
- Knowledge of your kids' schedules and extracurricular activities
- Familiarity with any special needs and areas of concern regarding your children
Strategic planning can help you prepare for any future custody hearings and validate your claim to primary custody of your children, if that is what you desire.
Plan early for a strong post-divorce future
It is beneficial to work with a lawyer as early as possible in the divorce process, even well before you actually decide to move forward with this important decision. Your lawyer can give you insight into when you should file and what else you need to prepare.
Early preparation can help you lay the foundation for a strong post-divorce future and can help you avoid legal complications in the future.