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Essential Divorce Checklist: Steps to Prepare for Your Divorce in Texas

Divorce is hard enough without having to deal with things like paperwork, legal fees, custody issues, financial concerns, and child support. But there are ways to make sure that you're prepared for what lies ahead. This essential divorce checklist includes ten steps to follow during your separation and divorce, making sure you keep yourself organized and on track.

Divorce Checklist

The divorce process is complicated enough without having to worry about what you're forgetting. This checklist helps you make sure you've covered everything important during the separation.

  1. Get Your Finances In Order
  2. File For Divorce
  3. Decide Who Gets What
  4. Keep A Journal Of All Financial Transactions
  5. Start Collecting Evidence
  6. Make Sure You Have Enough Insurance
Consider Whether You Can Resolve Your Divorce Without a Court

Think about whether you can work out all of your major issues in your divorce yourself. This includes deciding how much money you each want to receive in alimony, dividing up assets such as real estate and cars, and resolving disputes over debts like credit cards and student loans.

If you can reach an agreement on all of these matters, there are several reasons why it might make sense to try to do everything yourself. First, you'll save money. Many lawyers charge hourly rates starting around $200 per hour, plus expenses. In addition, many couples find themselves stuck arguing over issues they don't understand well enough to resolve. Finally, if you're able to settle things informally, you may feel better about the whole process.

Of course, if you can't come to terms on all of these matters without a court hearing, you'll still need a lawyer. But even if you decide to go ahead and represent yourself, it never hurts to consider what else you could accomplish if you had someone helping you along the way.

Consider Whether You Need to Hire a Lawyer

No state requires you to hire legal counsel during a divorce, but it can help keep the costs down and ensure your rights are protected. Here's why:

Hiring a family law attorney can add up quickly. But don't worry; there are ways around paying for legal representation up front. For example, many states allow couples to split the bill 50/50, meaning each party pays half of the total fee. Some states even offer free consultations where you can meet with an attorney without committing to pay anything.

Protecting Your Rights
If one spouse wants to file for bankruptcy, he or she needs to retain separate counsel. This way, the other spouse doesn't lose out on potential assets.

Avoid Conflict of Interest
In some cases, one spouse could benefit from his or her partner being represented separately. For instance, if one person is accused of domestic violence, another person could argue that the charge against him or her isn't true. In such situations, it makes sense for each spouse to be represented separately.

If You Have Minor Children, Prepare for the New Parenting Arrangement

When it comes to divorce, there are many things to consider. But one thing you might not realize is how much planning goes into parenting plans. Divorce can cause major changes in a family's life, and now you're responsible for making sure everyone gets along well enough to make those changes work. Here's what you need to do to prepare for a new parenting arrangement.

Collect Marriage Documents

The average couple spends $15,000 preparing for their wedding day. Some couples spend even more. If you're getting married soon, you'll want to make sure you've got everything covered. Here are four things to collect ahead of your big day.

Prenuptials and Postnups.
If you're marrying someone who already has kids, you might want to consider creating a prenuptial agreement. This document can help protect both parties from each other's assets. A prenup is basically like insurance. You never know what could happen, so it makes sense to write one up now.

Estate Planning Documents.
You don't want to die without making sure your family gets what you want them to get. Make sure you have copies of your will, power of attorney, health care proxy, and living will. These documents will ensure your wishes are carried out, no matter where you end up.

Contractual Arrangements.
Every relationship needs some sort of contract. Whether you're signing a lease, buying a house, or just setting up a joint checking account, contracts can save you headaches down the road. Keep track of all your written agreements.

Compile Important Financial Documents

The legal system requires each spouse to disclose his or her finances during divorce proceedings. This includes assets, liabilities, income sources, and expenses. If you are getting divorced, there are several documents you'll need to gather up and submit to the court. Here are things you must include in your financial disclosure statement.

List All Your Joint Accounts
If you hold any joint accounts prior to marriage, you must list those here. You'll want to do this even if your current spouse doesn't know about them.

Income Sources
You'll need to itemize every source of income you received during the course of the relationship. Include everything from wages to alimony to child support payments.

Include all of your monthly expenditures, including rent, utilities, groceries, car insurance, cell phone bills, student loans, etc.

Gather Other Essential Documents

The process of getting divorced can be stressful enough without having to worry about gathering together all of the necessary paperwork. However, there are several documents that you'll need to gather before filing for divorce, including copies of your marriage certificate, proof of residency, proof of income, and tax returns.

If you aren't married, you still need to provide proof of identification, proof of residence, proof of employment, and proof of income. You might also need to prove that you have no outstanding judgments against you. If you don't know where to start looking, check out our guide to finding free legal forms online.

An experienced divorce attorney in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, can provide guidance and offer advice throughout the entire process. Contact us today at www.thorntonesquirelawgroup.com for a free consultation.

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Selecting an attorney can be one of the most difficult decisions a person has to make. In what seems like an overwhelming sea of attorneys who do you choose? Are they qualified, compassionate, and are they willing to fight for you without compromising their integrity? When faced with this decision in 2016 I received this and more when I retained Rahlita Thornton as my attorney. Since 2016 she has represented me on several court cases and I've never been disappointed. She is well versed and very knowledgeable on many aspects of the law. Attorney Thornton and her staff work diligently to ensure no stone is left unturned and justice is served. When I was crippled with fear, bullied, and felt like giving up she was my voice. She is highly recommend and I'm truly blessed to have her in my life. TTW
It was a divine power that drove me to call. There are ton of lawyers online but I knew this attorney was the one for me. C.B., Divorce Client
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