Getting divorced in Texas can be complicated. It may take several months or over a year to finalize depending on the complexity of the situation and the attitudes of the spouses involved.
Before you are planning on filing for divorce, there are different factors you’ll want to consider and things you’ll have to prepare so that you’re ready to take the required steps.
Here are questions you should ask yourself before planning or filing for divorce.
Figuring out if you actually want to get divorced is the first step. In Texas, there is no legal separation, so you’re either married or divorced. You should also consider the effects this is going to have on your children and how you will discuss it with them so that they understand what’s going on. But if you have talked to your spouse, gone to or considered going to marriage counseling and you’ve seemed to exhaust all your options, then getting a divorce might be the right move for you, your spouse and your family. It can be difficult and painful, but you and your spouse staying married could end up being worse for everyone involved.
You’ll need to determine if you’re going to file a no-fault or a fault divorce. In a no-fault divorce, no party is at fault, and two spouses may have just fallen out of love or have irreconcilable differences.
A fault divorce means that one spouse did something to the other that was grounds for divorce. It could include adultery or abuse, for example.
Keep in mind that fault divorces typically take longer to settle than no-fault divorces. But if your spouse is doing something wrong, that shouldn’t deter you from filing for a fault divorce.
Texas is a community property state, which means that all assets and debts are equally owned between the two spouses. This could include assets like the family home, retirement accounts and cars, and debts like credit card debt and personal loans that both spouses took out. Any debts or assets acquired prior to the marriage would not be counted as community property. For example, if you took on student loan debt to go to college before you met your spouse, then you won’t share that debt. Additionally, if you signed a legal prenup or postnup that stated you couldn’t claim your spouse’s separate assets, then that agreement would hold up during the divorce process.
Prior to filing for divorce, get all of your financial documents together, including bank account, credit card and loan statements and your mortgage. If you have a contentious spouse who does not agree to the divorce, they may change passwords and block your access to these documents, which could be a major headache for you. Preparing everything ahead of time is going to save you a lot of trouble.
When you’re married, your spouse may be bringing in income while you stay at home and take care of the children. Or perhaps you work part-time but your spouse is still the breadwinner. Before filing for divorce, you need to figure out how you’re going to support yourself post-divorce. This could include securing a full-time job or going back to school and getting an advanced degree so that you can advance in your career. You might also reduce your living expenses by moving to an inexpensive part of town and trading in your new car for an older model. Budgeting is critical if you believe money is going to be an issue in your post-divorce life.
If the parents cannot come to agreements, then the family court judge will decide who gets custody based on what’s in the best interests of your children. They will, of course, look at the circumstances and determine what is going to be the better option for your children. For instance, if you’re staying in the family home and in the same school district and your spouse plans to move to another state, it could be best if your children stay with you so their lives won’t change dramatically. You should be able to show the judge how you’re going to be a responsible parent and always put your children’s needs above all else.
Though it may seem like a good idea to represent yourself, you may not get everything you need out of your divorce if you do this, especially if your spouse has a divorce lawyer. Even though it’s going to cost you money, it could cost you a lot more in the long run if you don’t have a lawyer.
When looking for a divorce lawyer, find someone with experience and make sure you are comfortable with them. For instance, if you don’t want a “shark,” then find a lawyer who is calmer and not litigious.
If you and your spouse are on good terms, an experienced divorce lawyer will not try to stir up unnecessary conflict. They can mediate any disputes you have and ensure you are protected throughout the entire process. Then, once your divorce is finalized, you can move forward with your life with some peace of mind that you have a bright future ahead.
Our law firm is dedicated to guiding families through divorce, which can be difficult for everyone involved. With our years of experience providing support to Texas families going through divorce, you know you’ll have the best representation on your side. To learn more and see if we can help you, contact us today to set up your confidential consultation.
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