Deciding to divorce is one of the most difficult decision a person can make. Plano Family Lawyer and GoransonBain Ausley partner, Hayley B. Collins takes you through five tips for individuals contemplating or who are in the divorce process.
A quote that I often share with clients going through a divorce when there are minor children involved is: “You cannot grow flowers in scorched earth.” Meaning, an ugly divorce where parents attack each other in Court makes it much more difficult for them to have any relationship post-divorce, let alone a well-functioning co-parenting relationship.
Therefore, this type of divorce most often negatively impacts the children, and the negative impact will be felt by the children long after the divorce is finalized. In my family law practice, I encourage parents to keep this at the forefront of their minds as they are making decisions in the divorce process.
1. Know what you are getting into
Before filing for divorce, it is important to understand what life will look like after the divorce has finalized, both financially, and also in terms of parenting time, so you can begin to prepare for possibly significant changes that will take place after the divorce has finalized.
For example, In Texas, spousal maintenance laws are more limited than in other States. A non-earning spouse may be contemplating divorce expecting that she (or he) will receive significant spousal maintenance from the spouse after the divorce. This may or may not be the case. It is important for the non-earning spouse to meet with an experienced divorce attorney before filing for divorce, so the spouse can understand whether it is realistic to expect to receive spousal maintenance at all after the divorce, and if so, what ball-park amount is realistic.
When you have some understanding of the divorce process and what life will likely look like after divorce before you begin the divorce the process, the process may be easier to handle, as there will be less unknown and less surprise.
2. Meet with multiple attorneys before hiring one
The divorce process can be highly emotional, difficult, and stressful. Therefore, it is so important to have the “right” divorce attorney helping you through the process. The “right” attorney is typically an experienced attorney, and also often an attorney who is Board Certified in Family Law, as this signifies that the attorney is an expert in family law. But, beyond the qualifications individuals should look for when selecting a divorce attorney, because the divorce process is a highly personal one, individuals should meet with multiple attorneys to find one that they are comfortable with and have trust in on a person-to-person level.
3. Therapy is almost always a good thing
I recommend to most clients who are beginning the divorce process to meet with a therapist at least once. It will most likely be a comfort to talk with a therapist about the emotions relating to the end of the relationship. Additionally, there is a benefit to most clients to continue to work with a therapist throughout their divorce process, as often times the therapist will provide advice or assistance that makes the divorce process easier or smoother for clients emotionally, and in other ways as well.
4. Gather documents
Before filing for divorce, if possible, you should obtain copies of at least the last three years of your tax returns. Additionally, gathering other financial statements is smart as well, to the extent possible. Specifically, gathering statements that reflect balances of your bank accounts, retirement accounts, credit card statements, and documentation regarding other assets or debts. Providing documentation to an attorney shows your attorney your current financial landscape in the beginning of the divorce and will help the divorce process move forward more efficiently.
5. No social media
We are living in a culture where people post online about everything. But, it does not benefit people who are going through the divorce process to post about the divorce on social media. And, sometimes, clients that do post about their divorce on social media end up having the posts used against them during the divorce.
I strongly recommend to people going through a divorce that they do not post anything about the divorce or their feelings relating to the divorce or the breakup of the relationship on social media.
Additionally, I strongly recommend to people going through a divorce that they are generally mindful of everything that they post on social media. For example, if you are requesting primary custody of your children in the divorce, your pictures and posts online should support your request, and not be detrimental to your case.
6. You will have a brighter day
For most people, divorce is one of the hardest life experiences to go through. Divorce is, after all, the uncoupling from someone who was at the center of your life, and who was the person that you, at one point, loved the most. That aspect of it is really hard. It is also a time of financial transition and a transition with your children, which is almost always challenging, even though it will usually all work out.
This being said, most people also walk through the divorce process towards a brighter day and the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. So, I tell clients who are having a hard time in the divorce process to focus on the future and think about that brighter day.
Hayley’s practice covers all facets of family law matters, with an emphasis on property cases and complex custody. She guides her clients to reach an efficient and constructive resolution. Hayley was listed as a Best Lawyers by D Magazine in 2018, and is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.