If you’ve been blindsided by divorce papers, you’re not alone. Many people come to our Fort Worth family law firm in a state of shock because they had no inkling their spouse was thinking about divorce. While going through a divorce is never easy, there are steps you can take to protect your interests and optimize the outcome of your divorce and child custody dispute in Texas.
It’s also important to note that the state of Texas is not a fault state, which means that you don’t need to prove fault grounds in order to get a divorce. If your spouse wants to end your marriage, you need to accept it and do your best to prepare for the inevitable.
You’ll also want to set the wheels in motion on your side ASAP. Getting divorced is much like being diagnosed with cancer and seeking treatment. If you avoid addressing it, the process and outcome could get worse. Ready to proceed? Consider taking the following steps:
Step 1: Take time to prepare before meeting with a divorce attorney.
After the initial shock has lifted, you’ll probably have a lot of questions about what’s going to happen next. Before you meet with a divorce lawyer, write down all the questions and concerns you have about the divorce and think hard about your goals regarding the divorce settlement and child custody.
If you prepare beforehand, the attorney will know you are invested in your case, plus he or she will be better equipped to provide you with proper advice during the initial consultation. Once the attorney understands your goals, he or she can work with you to develop a strategy to achieve them—from temporary orders to negotiations to litigation (if necessary) to agreement.
Step 2: Hold your cards close to the vest.
Just like criminal lawyers do, we advise our clients to remain silent about their divorce strategy. That’s not because we don’t want you communicating with your spouse about making a deal. The reason is that until you have rules set forth and temporary orders and injunctions put in place (to preserve assets, establish temporary custody and living arrangements and so on), you could jeopardize the outcome of your case by saying too much.
For example, there would be no recourse in the event that one spouse starts moving money around or paying off debts because the other spouse starts talking about divorce. So at the inception of the case, it’s really important to think about how much you share with the other party.
Step 3: Be proactive about securing private information and correspondence.
At the outset of a divorce, It’s essential to set up an email account only you have access to, update passwords and beneficiaries and only use devices that aren’t tied to a shared phone plan or the cloud. You don’t want to make it easy for your spouse to intercept emails on your divorce strategy or follow you around with apps like Find My iPhone. You’ll also want to ask your attorney what steps you need to take to protect your finances during divorce.
Check out our recent post, Concerned About Privacy Protection During Divorce? 5 Steps to Take, for additional insight and tips on this topic.
Step 4: Approach reconciliation carefully.
Just because we’re divorce lawyers doesn’t mean we don’t want our clients to reconcile. However, we strongly encourage clients to take steps to protect their assets and educate themselves about potential ramifications that could result if the reconciliation doesn’t work out as planned.
Unfortunately, some parties strategically say they want to reconcile so they can move assets around or put themselves in a better position when they go to court. For example, if you and your children move back in with someone who has physically abused you, and then things fall apart, the judge may assume the abuse wasn’t that bad because you were willing to move back in. That could affect your divorce settlement (you may be awarded less) and what access the abuser has to your children.
Even if reconciliation is imminent and a good thing for everyone involved, we really want our clients to make sure everything is locked down and protected beforehand. It’s easier to negotiate and make your marriage better when both parties feel like they have equal say and equal access to information.
Need advice from a divorce attorney in Tarrant County?
The attorneys at the Sisemore Law Firm are here to help. To schedule a confidential consultation with our founder Justin Sisemore, please call our firm at 817.336.4444 or visit our contact page to schedule online.