by Houston Divorce Attorney Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III
Now that the holidays are behind us, our annual family gatherings are not for another year. And as we reflect on what the New Year might bring, many unhappy couples, for better or worse, decide to start the process of getting out of their bad marriages.
In fact, January is traditionally recognized as “Divorce Month” in the family law industry.
The first part of the year is typically a very active time for Houston family law attorneys. Many individuals schedule consultations with divorce attorneys this time of year because they are highly motivated to start a new chapter in their lives and that 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. Yet navigating those waters can be much easier with knowledge and preparation.
I tell my clients that information is power, and the more one knows, the better informed he or she 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 as well. The decisions you make now will impact the rest of your life — so it is worth the effort!
Here are some tips on preparing for the divorce process:
- Get organized and assemble copies of statements on all bank accounts, 401(k)s, pension plans, stock portfolios, bonds, CDs, etc. as well as all credit cards, loans, debts, etc.
- Your attorney will need your income tax statements for the last three years.
- Make a list of all assets in yours and your spouse’s name, including details on all automobiles and large ticket items owned by yourself and 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.
- Also make copies of automobile, home and life insurance policies and statements.
- Gather household expense statements – utilities (electric, gas, water, sewer and garbage pickup), security system, automobile payments, cable TV, Internet, insurance, lawn service, etc.
- 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. The seminars bring together experts on divorce law in Texas, divorce financial planning, life skills and lifestyle. The seminar also addresses the transformative potential of divorce as a time of self-discovery and personal growth. This first seminar of 2012 is being offered free to the first 50 registrants and is scheduled for Saturday, February 11, 2012 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 Houston divorce, please contact The Law Office of Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III, P.C. for a consultation.