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Preparing for the financial change divorce can bring

Is divorce on your horizon? Perhaps you and your spouse have not actually said the words, but you may sense the marriage is already over. Whether you are planning on visiting a counselor or you have already gone that route without success, your next step is to learn all you can about your rights and the process of divorce under Texas law.

Aside from those issues dealing with your children, custody and support, your most critical decisions may involve the finances. It is no secret that many people struggle to get by after divorce, and some learn the hard way that there were steps they could have taken to lessen the impact on their wallets. As emotional as your situation may be, it is wise to set those feelings aside long enough to make some prudent decisions about your future.

Get control of the finances

If you are not already involved in your family budget, now is the time. This means keeping track of your expenses and income for the next few months. You can also look back over bank statements, credit card bills and other records to learn about the patterns of spending you and your spouse kept. Not only will this help you plan a budget when your income changes after the divorce, but it will assist your attorney in fighting for a fair division of assets and perhaps spousal support.

In addition to information about income for you and your spouse, you will need to gather other documentation that may not be available once you begin divorce proceedings in earnest. If your spouse intends to fight you throughout the process, you may have difficulty obtaining the information you need, for example:

  • A list of assets that were yours prior to the marriage and those of your spouse
  • Bank statements
  • Statements from investments and retirement accounts
  • Details about your mortgage, car loans, credit cards and other debt you and your spouse share
  • Pay stubs from you and your spouse
  • Tax returns from at least three years back

Meanwhile, keep your spending under control. It isn't wise to make big purchases in the middle of a divorce. Additionally, your attorney can advise you on the best way to deal with your life insurance, estate plan and other documents that may list your spouse as a beneficiary. The sooner you obtain the advice of legal counsel, the more likely you will reach your goals during the divorce process.

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