You and your spouse have reached the point of no return and there is no hope of reconciliation, the next step is filing for divorce. A divorce is contested if any one of the following areas are at issue:
- Conservatorship (custody)
- Possession/access (visitation)
- Child support
- Spousal maintenance
- The division of community liabilities
- The division of marital (community) property
Steps for the preparation of a divorce:
- Before you visit an attorney, first make a list of all the property you and your spouse own, determine if it was purchased prior to the marriage or during the marriage, and determine the value or equity in the property. Examples include the marital residence, land, vacation home, rental properties, etc.
- Next make a list of all your checking and savings accounts whether held in your name, your spouse’s name or both. Note the current balances for each account.
- Next make a list of all credit card debt in your name, your spouse’s name or both. Note all the current balances for each credit card.
- Next make a list of the real property in the home. Examples include the furniture, appliances, tools, stereo equipment, computers, etc.
- Next make a list of you and your spouse’s retirement accounts including 401K’s, IRAs, Pensions, etc. and note down the values of each and whether each was started prior to or during the marriage.
If you can gather this information and organize it prior to having your first consult with an attorney, this will assist that attorney in giving you a rough idea of how your assets may be divided. In addition, this will help facilitate and expedite the completion of your Financial Information Statement and Inventory & Appraisement (documents required by the courts) once the divorce is commenced.
If custody is an issue, you may be asked to fill out a custody questionnaire and a timeline of your marriage for an attorney to assess your situation. A multitude of factors are considered in a contested custody dispute.
Texas courts are guided by the best interests of the child which includes consideration of the child’s physical, mental and emotional needs.
Factors considered include but are not limited to the following:
- Each parent’s ability to raise the children
- The stability of each parent’s home
- Each parent’s plans for the child’s future
- History of domestic violence in the household
- Abuse and neglect allegations
- The child’s age if over the age of 12
- The school district where each parent’s residence is zoned
In most instances parties should try and work out a parenting plan with the assistance of an attorney or a mediator prior to actually initiating a court battle which can be time consuming, stressful for the children and financially draining for both parties.