In our opinion, knowledge is empowering. And each woman going through divorce has unique needs beyond securing the services of a divorce attorney. The Guide to Good Divorce was created to provide you with vital information and resources on many levels you can use throughout the divorce process to learn and grow.
We have identified five very important areas that all women going through divorce should consider. We call them the Five Keys to a fuller, happier and healthier life. They include the legal aspects of divorce, finances, life skills, wellness and community.
If you are thinking about divorce, it is a good idea to seek legal advice early, even before you have made a decision. Consulting with an attorney early will help you consider a number of factors that may or may not have occurred to you, including the timing of your filing, your spousal rights under Texas law, what is separate and what is community property, who qualifies for spousal maintenance, and much more. A great place to start is by looking for an attorney who is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Family Law. Of the more than 70,000 attorneys licensed to practice in Texas, only 7,000 have earned the right to be recognized as Board Certified and of that small amount, only 450 are Board Certified in family law. Board certified attorneys must pass rigorous testing, have significant trial experience and stay current with the ever changing area of family law by attending numerous Continuing Legal Education seminars throughout any given year.
One of the most important aspects of the divorce process involves finances. For starters, you must gain a clear understanding of your finances, and how decisions made during the divorce process will impact the rest of your life. Here are some additional issues to consider:
• What happens to the family home?
• What about pensions and social security benefits?
• What about dividing retirement plans?
• What are taxable and non-taxable assets?
• What about executive benefit plans such as stock options and restricted stocks?
• What are the tax implications of your divorce?
Then, you should develop a financial plan for the future with regard to income, expenses, assets and investments.
This component of divorce can get complicated. You may benefit from the advice and counsel of someone beyond the experience and training of a divorce attorney. You may also want the help of a financial planning expert with knowledge of divorce rules who can help calculate an equitable division of assets based on individual circumstances.
Your lifestyle is likely to change dramatically following divorce. Now is the time to think about and plan for what lies ahead. Your future is in your hands and, maybe for the first time in your life, you have the freedom to pursue long-forgotten dreams or goals. How will you support yourself? Maybe it’s time to get that master’s degree. You may have always wanted to open a bed-and-breakfast in the Texas Hill Country, move to the mountains, visit remote regions of Asia or teach school. Whatever your dreams, now is the time to plan and prepare for how you will make them a reality.
Many women focus on their husbands and families for much of their lives. As you begin to transition through divorce, now is the time to focus on yourself and your needs – physical, psychological and spiritual. Allow yourself time to adjust, to heal, to begin again. As you move out of divorce, think of this time as an opportunity to experiment and try new things. Try a new hairstyle and maybe, a new hair color. Take a painting class. Update your wardrobe with some new pieces. Sign up for a yoga class or get a personal trainer. This is also a great time to clean closets and donate what you no longer want. Out with the old and in with the new — you!
Some of your “couple” friends may or may not make the transition with you through divorce, so plan now to look for opportunities to make new friends. Your church or place of worship may offer events and activities for singles. Another good idea is reaching out and reconnecting with old friends. There is also the whole world of online dating if that sparks your interest. The Guide to Good Divorce program is planning to offer a variety of seminars, boot camps, events and activities for divorcing and divorced women going forward, so be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter to get all the details!