Preparing for a Texas Divorce: Helpful Tips When Starting the Divorce Process
On the outside looking in, divorce can seem like a difficult and daunting process – and for good reason. Divorce is both a deeply personal life experience and a complex legal proceeding, subject to various laws and influenced by the many different unique issues and facts of a case. From unraveling assets and debts for property distribution to addressing financial matters for support (including child and spousal support), divorcing spouses have a lot on their plates. However, with preparation and the right guidance, you can protect your rights and place yourself in a position to effectively navigate the divorce process.
At Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers, our divorce attorneys have collectively spent decades guiding men, women, and families throughout Collin County, Denton County, and surrounding areas of Texas through their unique divorce cases. Over the years, we’ve learned that one of the most difficult parts of the process for clients is getting started on the right foot. While we make it a point to address this from the very moment prospective clients reach out for help, we also know that individuals seeking a divorce can do many things on their own to prepare for the journey ahead.
Below, we discuss a few helpful tips, strategies, and things to keep in mind as you prepare for divorce:
Setting Expectations – Setting expectations, and more importantly realistic expectations, is one of the most important first steps you can take when considering or initiating a divorce. This includes familiarizing yourself generally with Texas laws on divorce, and how cases work. For example, you can’t expect to finalize a divorce without meeting state residency requirements first. You also can’t expect to obtain results that don’t adhere to state laws. For example, because Texas is a community property state, assets and debts acquired during the course of a marriage are considered community property subject to equitable distribution, which means distribution in a manner that is “just and right,” and not always an equal 50-50 split between spouses. When you know Texas adheres to this property division rule, you’ll be able to adjust your expectations, knowing you can’t expect to get everything, or that you can avoid a disproportionate share of assets.
In addition to setting expectations about what is and is not generally achievable in your divorce, you also need to tailor your expectations when it comes to working with legal representation. Divorce lawyers provide important services to help you navigate complex proceedings and address challenging issues, and they can provide the information you need to make informed decisions, help you leverage their resources, and work to protect your interests. However, they can’t be expected to “win” at all costs, especially if your idea of “winning” is in natural conflict with the law and how these cases work. Be realistic in what you expect from a lawyer. High quality service and support is something you deserve, but there must be some reasonableness in what you can and simply cannot expect.
Understanding Your Divorce is Unique – One simple concept to understand when preparing for divorce is that every case is different. Because every relationship and marriage is unique, and because those marriages can entail vastly different circumstances, you cannot expect that your case will proceed like other cases you may have heard about.
While seeking advice and support from others can be helpful during difficult times, you must remember to take any “advice” or anecdotes with a grain of salt, as the issues in that particular case may not be pertinent, apply, or even true in your own divorce. This is especially true if you have unique issues to address that can affect other facets of your divorce, such as complex assets like investments, stocks, pensions, military service, businesses, or professional practices that impact the property division. This is one of the primary reasons why our legal team makes it a priority to personally work with our clients and obtain the unique information about their situations and goals in order to tailor an effective approach.
Evaluating Your Situation & Goals – Divorce is in every way a major life change, which is why it becomes so important to evaluate your situation and goals from the beginning. By conducting an “audit” or “inventory” for your current situation, you’ll be able to better assess what you need and where you want to go moving forward. Such an assessment can also help you provide your attorney with the information necessary to work on your case and the specific issues involved. This is especially true in terms of your finances, and things like your current assets, real estate owned by you and/or your spouse, and other important financial information or documentation.
Our attorneys at Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers work closely with our clients to help them conduct these important evaluations and prepare for practical matters involving important facts and documents. However, preparing a list of specific outcomes on your own can provide you with clarification about your own personal needs and goals. For example, you may want to express the need for temporary orders, especially if you want new living arrangements while a divorce is pending or need a protective order when domestic violence or abuse has occurred. It can also help you reflect on what is most important to you in the divorce and your future, and provide the information you and your attorney needs to structure a strategy that reflects those desires – whether that be gaining custody of your children, securing spousal support, keeping the family home, or protecting certain assets like a pension, business, oil/gas or mineral rights, and more.
Prioritizing Children – Texas family courts always prioritize minor children whenever they are part of a divorce case, and they do this by ensuring all arrangements meet the best interests of the children involved. While parents are naturally concerned about the outcomes of a divorce and its impact on kids, they should also understand that the process itself can be a major change and difficult experience. As such, parents with children who are old enough to understand change is happening should take the time to prioritize discussions with their children about divorce. While these discussions don’t have to focus on granular facts or any disputes between parents, they should focus on what it means to divorce, prepare kids for change, and discuss how relationships with parents will always be important, regardless of whether those parents have decided to part ways.
Consulting an Experienced Lawyer – Preparation is always a wise decision but preparing in the right way is even more important. Because divorce can introduce a range of unique and complex legal concepts, procedural requirements, and information you simply are not familiar with, working with an experienced family lawyer is one of the best ways to provide yourself with direction and guidance. Our attorneys at Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers prioritize preparation because it not only ensures our clients know what to expect, but also because it provides a mutual benefit for us in structuring the strategies that will aid our team in protecting the rights and interests of our clients. When you consult with a lawyer, be sure to come prepared and voice your questions and concerns about preparing for the actual divorce itself. Be open to your attorney’s insight when discussing what to expect and how your attorney can help.
Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers: Treating Clients Like Family
Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers is focused solely on divorce and family law, and to treating our clients with the respect, personal attention, and commitment they deserve. We treat cases as if they were our own and know that can make the biggest difference for our clients when they are just beginning to understand the Texas divorce process, the road ahead, and how to best tackle all the issues involved. Because there’s a lot to take in when preparing for divorce, we want local residents throughout Denton County, Collin County, and surrounding areas of Texas to know that we’re readily available to help in starting off on the right foot.
To request a personalized consultation with a member of our firm, call (940) 293-2313 or contact us online today.