Step 2 Know what the debts and assets of the spouses are. Get copies of all car titles, mortgage statements, retirement and brokerage account statements, bank or credit union statements, loan applications, credit card bills, health and life insurance policies, and tax returns. Remove the hard copies of those documents from the home, and keep them in a trusted place, such as at work, or in a friend’s or relative’s home to which your spouse does not have access. And, store electronic versions of those documents in the cloud (such as via OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box) so that you can access them from anywhere that there is an internet connection.
Step 3 Make sure you know who provides services to the home, such as the gas company, the electricity provider, and the cable or satellite provider. And, find-out where/how the water bill is paid in your community. Health insurance, toll tag, phone and other accounts may have online user interfaces. Start a spreadsheet of online billing accounts with user name and password because you will eventually have to re-establish these accounts in your name. Also, learn whether there are other service providers used, such as for landscaping, lawn maintenance, or babysitting. And if so, learn who they are, how/where they are paid, and how much they charge.
Step 4 Divorce can be expensive-sometimes, very expensive. So, securing a means to pay those expenses allows one to continue the case, rather than perhaps being forced to settle on less-than-favorable terms because you’ve run-out of money. Be prepared to take one or more of the following steps: take a loan against a retirement account; sell some securities in a brokerage account; secure one or more credit cards (without your spouse being able to charge on that account); open-up a line of credit with a financial institution, or even a relative who will loan you money, or who will allow you to use his or her credit card.
Is there home equity available to borrow? Even if the house is owned by both of you, the court may allow that home equity to be used to pay the expenses of the case.
Step 5 Change your mailing address to one that your spouse does not have access to, such as a post office box. Put in a change of address with USPS, and notify everyone who might write to you. That includes anyone who might send you a statement, bill, or notice, such as your lawyer.
Step 6 Change email and social passwords if you’ve ever shared them so your communications are private. Don’t post negative information on your spouse on social accounts assuming it’s for your friends’ eyes only. These can be forwarded to your spouse and frequently are.
Step 7 If you and your spouse have minor children, then the court is required to make orders pertaining to them in a Texas divorce case. Get copies of each child’s medical records, school records, and any other records concerning your child or children. Those medical records will have information such as the name and address of the child’s health care providers, any health issues, and treatments. The child’s school records will show attendance, grades and the names of his or her teachers. This information can be helpful if a dispute arises involving your rights to your children.
Step 8 Keep a journal in which you summarize your communications with your spouse from the beginning of the talk of separation or divorce, onward. And, discuss each significant event, transaction, or activity that arises during the case. An example may be who plans a child’s birthday party, or how your spouse acts towards the family on weekends.
You may decide to keep that journal confidential, so don’t reveal its contents to anyone other than your attorney and his/her office staff. That way, it will be attorney/client privileged unless and until you decide to use it as evidence in your case.
By making the effort to learn things important to your case’s outcome, and organizing that information, your case should go more smoothly, and be less expensive, than it would otherwise be. And, your case resolution, whether by agreement or trial, should be more favorable to you.