COVID-19 may have brought a strange holiday season this year, but now that it is over, we know we do not need to worry about annual family gatherings for another year. As we reflect on what the New Year might bring, many unhappy couples, for better or worse, will decide to start the process of getting out of their bad marriages.
This time of year is typically a very active time for Houston family law attorneys. In fact, January is traditionally recognized as “Divorce Month” in the family law industry. Many individuals, highly motivated to start a new chapter in their lives, schedule consultations with divorce attorneys. For them, moving forward means leaving failed relationships behind.
I always encourage clients considering divorce to take a breath, get their emotions in check, and develop a plan of action before filing divorce papers. Divorce is rarely easy. It is much easier to navigate those waters with knowledge and preparation.
Information is power. The more one knows, the better informed one will be in making decisions about the many aspects of the divorce process and what lies ahead.
Since each situation is unique, I advise clients considering divorce to be sure to assemble a team of trusted and skilled advisers and supporters to assist with the process. This should include an experienced, board certified family law attorney as well as a financial planner and/or accountant; a close friend or relative you can trust; a licensed therapist; and, if applicable, a life- or career-coach. Plan to invest your time and effort in the process. The decisions you make now will impact the rest of your life. It is worth the effort!
Here are some tips on preparing for the divorce process:
- Get organized. Assemble copies of statements on all bank accounts, 401(k)s, pension plans, stock portfolios, bonds, CDs as well as all credit cards, loans, and debts.
- Collect your income tax statements for the last three years.
- Make a list of all assets in your and your spouse’s name, including details on all automobiles and valuable items owned by yourself and/or your spouse.
- If you own real estate, gather documents or information you have on purchasing the property as well as its location, mortgage statements, taxes, insurance, and current market value.
- Make a copy of your will and any applicable trust documents.
- Make copies of automobile, home, and life insurance policies and statements.
- Gather household expense statements and create a current and future budget: utilities (electric, gas, water, sewer, and garbage pickup); security system costs; automobile payments; cable TV; Internet; health insurance; lawn service, etc.
- Open an individual bank account.
- Open a PO box, especially if you are moving out of the family home.
- Update your will.
- Since Texas is a community property state, learn the definitions of “community” and “separate” property.
To assist women going through divorce, I have created a seminar series called The Guide to Good Divorce℠. These seminars bring together experts on divorce law in Texas, divorce financial planning, life skills, and changing one’s lifestyle. They also address the transformative potential of divorce, reimagining it as a time of self-discovery and personal growth. The next seminar is scheduled for Saturday, January 30, 2021 via livestream or in person at the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa.
Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III is a Houston-based Board Certified Family Law Attorney and creator of The Guide to Good Divorce℠ seminars for women. If you have questions about your Texas divorce, please contact The Law Office of Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III, P.C. for a consultation. If you would like more information about Trey Yates’ 2021 The Guide to Good Divorce℠ seminars, please visit www.GuideToGoodDivorce.com or call 713.742.6606.