Five Items To Consider Before Filing For A Divorce On Your Own
The decision to divorce is rarely made lightly. Still, once you have decided it is your only option, there are additional considerations to make. While it is possible to file for a divorce on your own, it can be an exceptionally complex legally process, and it is often prudent to consult with legal counsel.
At the Law Office of Lori Watson, we feature more than 20 years of experience in helping our Georgetown clients through the divorce process. We understand the particular nuances of Texas state law, and we would advise anyone to consider the following five items before attempting to file a divorce on their own:
1. Can you 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. Can you assemble 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. Will 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 401(k) plans, stock options, pension plans, etc. This document is called a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), 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.
A QDRO will often require revisions even after the judge has signed it, which may involve another trip to the courthouse to have the judge sign the revised order.
4. Will name changes be taking place?
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 she resides and appear before a judge to request that the name change be granted.
5. Can you truly afford to complete this process without the aid of an attorney?
There are lawyers who 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.