Divorce can produce a range of emotions. Anger, fear, frustration, disappointment—these are all perfectly natural feelings to experience during divorce.
However, you cannot allow your emotional turmoil to cloud your judgment. It’s essential to defend your best interests, and if you have children, your parental rights. To this end, you need to prepare for the divorce process, and the first step is to hire a divorce attorney.
Before You File
Unless you have already gone through a divorce, you will not know what to expect from the proceeding. That is why you should go to your first meeting with your divorce attorney well-prepared. Your attorney will spend most of the time trying to gather as much information as they can about your marriage, your domestic life, the reasons behind the divorce, and the financial and material situation in which you live. They will need these facts to fight your corner and ensure that you get a fair settlement.
What to Bring
These are some of the things you should be prepared to tell or give your lawyer at the first meeting:
You need to provide as much detail as you can to paint a picture of what your marriage and home life was like during your marriage. This will help your attorney understand the situation better. Provide them with details like:
- The date of your marriage
- Relevant information about your children
- Any previous marriages you or your spouse have had
- How much income you and your spouse each make
- Your spouse’s place of employment, pay stubs if you have them, or any other relevant information about them
Whether you get spousal support, and the amount you receive will depend greatly on your living expenses. Your living costs can also impact child support payments should you get primary custody of the children. You should also give your attorney a sense of your and your spouse’s credit histories, investments, and other assets and liabilities.
Your lawyer will need to know whether you own the home you live in. They will also need to know if the mortgage and deed are in your spouse’s name. Texas is a community property state. This means that even if your spouse owned the house prior to your marriage, you could have some claim to it if your income was used to make mortgage payments.
If you have additional homes purchased after the marriage, you will have a claim to them as part of the settlement.
Copies of Records
Always remember that your attorney is bound by attorney-client confidentiality. You can share your most private and intimate details and secrets with them, and they cannot tell a soul. With that in mind, you should come to the meeting with tax filings, bank statements, mortgage documents, and other vital papers. These are essential to the work that they will need to do.
It is right for you to ask questions when you are uncertain about anything your lawyer tells you. Indeed, you should prepare a list of questions for the meeting. Queries about the amount of time it takes to divorce, selling your home after the proceedings are concluded, and child custody and visitation rights are common.
Starting the Divorce Process
For most people getting divorced, it can be difficult to even know where to start. In Texas, there are several steps in the divorce process. Knowing these steps can ensure you are prepared for what is to come.
Filing for Divorce
The first thing you need to do to start the process of divorce is to file the Petition for Divorce. The purpose of the form is to inform the judge that you and your spouse are seeking a divorce.
You’ll need to make two copies of the form and bring them along with the original to the District Clerk’s Office, where they will stamp your paperwork. You will also need to pay a fee to file your divorce papers.
Notifying Your Spouse
Once the divorce papers have been filed at the courthouse, you will need to take one of your file-stamped copies and deliver it to your spouse. For a divorce to be granted, a Return of Service form must be filed with the district clerk to show proof that your spouse received legal notice of the dissolution.
There are a few methods that a judge will accept as proof of notifying your spouse, including:
- Official Service in Person
- Waiver of Service
- Filing an Answer by the Respondent
At this time, your spouse can respond to the claim and may file to contest the terms if they wish. If they fail to respond by the Monday following the twentieth day after receipt of legal notice, you can request a default judgment to finalize your divorce. However, before the order can be finalized in any situation, the couple must wait sixty days from the date the divorce petition was filed.
Seek Representation From a Skilled Divorce Attorney
Benouis Law can protect your rights during the divorce process. Our Austin divorce lawyer understands what is at stake during this difficult time. At Benouis Law, we are dedicated to helping you and your family through this process.
We’re here to guide you through the divorce process. Call us today at 512-764-3932 to get started.