5 Things to Consider Before Filing Your Own Divorce in Texas.
Posted by Lori Watson, Attorney at Law, Lori@Olivarezlaw.com.
1. Whether or not you can draft an enforceable order for child support. When children are involved and child support is to be paid, it is essential that you be able to draft an order that will be enforceable in the future. If not, you will have more problems than usual in trying to collect support from the other party. There are many forms available on the internet; however, I recommend finding forms or manuals from the State Bar of Texas' Family Law Practice Manual or consulting with an attorney to have them review your order prior to finalizing your divorce.
2. Whether or not you can draft the documents necessary to properly transfer property awarded in the decree. If there is a house, land, vehicles, etc. that need to be awarded to one party or the other, there are often additional documents that need to be drafted to effectuate the transfer. For example, when a house is awarded to one party, often a special warranty deed is needed, and at times, a Deed of Trust to Secure Assumption is necessary.
3. Whether or not retirement accounts need to be divided. When dividing retirement accounts, there is almost always an additional document required to be submitted along with the divorce decree that sets forth the specific requirements for dividing 401k plans, stock options, pension plans, etc. This document is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order and the form and substance of the order will vary according to the type of plan and the employer or administrator of each particular plan. Often these orders require revisions even after the judge has signed them and may involve another trip to the courthouse to have the judge sign the revised order.
4. Whether or not the wife wants a name change. If the wife wants a name change back to her maiden name or former name, now is the time to make that request. The judge may order this at the finalization of the divorce if a request is made in the Original Petition for Divorce and the name change is ordered in the Final Decree. If the wife chooses not to change her name at the time of divorce, and subsequently decides to change her name, she will have to file a Petition for Change of Name, pay a filing fee that will cost about $200 depending on the county in which you reside, and appear before a judge to request that the name change be granted.
5. Whether or not you realistically have the time and energy to invest in drafting the paperwork, ensuring its accuracy, and can risk getting it wrong. There are attorneys that will draft the paperwork for you for a small fee. You file the petition yourself and make the court appearance to finalize the divorce. This way you can ensure that your paperwork is done properly but avoid the expense of having an attorney file papers and attend court. Another option is to pay an attorney for an hour of their time to review the paperwork you do have and recommend changes that they believe are needed in order to accomplish the terms of your divorce decree.
Lori Watson is an attorney in Austin, Texas, and is available for consultation via telephone and in person to discuss filing your own divorce. For assistance, please contact us.