by Houston Divorce Attorney Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III
Happy New Year! As we move into 2015, news headlines and social media are abuzz with tips on how to eat healthier, get more exercise, organize our homes and offices, etc. As a family law attorney, experienced in divorce, I also see many individuals this time of year seeking to end marriages that no longer work for them. Divorce is rarely easy and most do not enter into the process lightly. For those facing the prospect of divorce this year, here are five important areas to consider; I call them the Five Keys to a fuller, happier and healthier life after divorce.
1. Securing legal representation
Seek legal advice early if you are considering divorce, even before you have made a decision. Becoming acquainted with divorce law in your state and discussing your specific situation with a skilled family law attorney — experienced in divorce and Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Family Law — will help you make informed decisions moving forward. Topics to discuss include the timing of your filing, your spousal rights under Texas law, temporary orders, what is separate and what is community property, how your current financial situation will impact your case, who qualifies for spousal maintenance, and much more.
2. Sorting out your finances
One of the most important aspects of the divorce process involves finances. For your own well being and long-term happiness, gain a clear understanding of your finances ASAP. Don’t allow emotions to impact this area. Decisions made during the divorce process with regard to your finances will impact the rest of your life. Here are some questions to consider as you set emotions aside:
- What happens to the family home?
- What kind of child support/spousal support should I expect?
- What about pensions and social security benefits?
- What about dividing retirement plans?
- What are taxable and non-taxable assets?
- What about executive benefit plans such as stock options and restricted stocks?
- What are the tax implications of your divorce?
This component of divorce can get complicated. You may also want the help of a financial analyst with knowledge of divorce rules who can help calculate an equitable division of assets based on individual circumstances and divorce law. Develop a balanced financial plan with regard to income, expenses, assets and investments.
3. Refreshing your life skills
Your lifestyle is likely to change dramatically following divorce. Now is the time to think about and plan for what lies ahead. Your future is in your hands and, maybe for the first time in your life, you have the freedom to pursue long-forgotten dreams or goals. How will you support yourself? Maybe it’s time to get that master’s degree. You may have always wanted to open a bed-and-breakfast in the Texas Hill Country, move to the mountains, visit remote regions of Asia or teach school. Whatever your dreams, now is the time to plan and prepare for how you will make them a reality.
4. Attaining a renewed state of wellness
Many women focus on their husbands and families for much of their lives. As you begin to transition through divorce, now it the time to focus on yourself and your needs – physical, psychological and spiritual. Now is also a great time to experiment and try new things. Try a new hairstyle and maybe, a new hair color. Take a painting class. Update your wardrobe with some new pieces. Sign up for a yoga class or get a personal trainer. This is also a great time to clean closets and donate what you no longer want. Out with the old and in with the new — you!
5. Making new friends and connections
Some of your “couple” friends may or may not make the transition with you through divorce, so plan now to look for opportunities to make new friends. Your church or place of worship may offer events and activities for singles. Another good idea is reaching out and reconnecting with old friends. There is also the whole world of online dating if that sparks your interest.
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’d like more information about Trey Yates’ 2015 Guide to Good Divorce seminars, please visit www.GuideToGoodDivorce.com or call 713-932-7177.