Thinking about divorce? Be sure to prepare beforehand

This article looks at how to prepare for a divorce, from gathering financial documents to limiting social media use.

The new year is a chance for many people to make a new start with their lives. It should hardly come as a surprise, therefore, that nationwide divorce filings rise dramatically in January and peak around March, according to the Miami Herald. Many couples choose to "stick it out" through the holidays before opting to begin divorce proceedings in the new year. For those who are thinking about a divorce, preparation will be key and it is important to research the implications of a divorce well before actually filing the necessary paperwork.

Is it the right move?

As MarketWatch points out, the holidays can be a stressful time and for many couples it may prove to be their breaking point. It is important, however, to realize that divorce is more than just an emotional decision; it is a legal and financial one as well. In some situations, for example, a separation may make more sense than a divorce. Be sure to talk with counselors, psychologists, financial advisors, attorneys, and friends and loved ones who can help offer a clear perspective on whether or not a divorce is the right move.

Preparation work

For those who have decided that divorce is inevitable, preparation will be key. For couples who do not have a prenuptial agreement, it is important to understand that Texas is a community property state. This means that most assets that are acquired over the course of a marriage are split equally between both spouses during divorce. Assets that were owned by either spouse prior to the marriage, on the other hand, typically stay with that same spouse after a divorce. Of course, sometimes it can be difficult to draw a clear line between community and separate property, which is why it is important to gather financial documents as soon as possible that may help prove who owns what.

The weeks and months preceding a divorce can also be particularly contentious times when soon-to-be ex-spouses may be on the lookout for "suspicious" behavior that can be used as leverage during divorce settlement negotiations. During these difficult months it is important to protect one's privacy and to avoid situations that can become embarrassing or harmful during divorce proceedings. Social media use, for example, should be kept to a minimum as seemingly innocuous posts could be used against a former spouse in child custody cases and other family law matters.

Getting help

Divorce is a difficult decision and one that most people only come to after careful planning and consideration. For those who have decided that divorce is their only option then a family law attorney should be consulted as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can provide clients with advice about what to do moving forward and how best to prepare for the challenges ahead.