When problems arise in your marriage, the best course of action is not always clear cut. While divorce is an option, you may have doubts about ending your marriage and concerns over the ramifications it could have on you, your children, your family and friends and maybe even your spouse. Time apart from one another can provide valuable perspective in helping you to decide whether to stay in your marriage or to divorce.
Protecting Yourself During a Separation
Dealing with the possible breakup of a marriage is never easy. While a separation can provide time to sort out issues, you do need to recognize what is potentially at stake. Steps to protect your rights now and in any future court proceedings include:
- Create a thorough inventory of all property and assets you and your spouse own, including real property, bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, vehicles and boats, as well as your personal belongings;
- Make a list of all outstanding debts and the exact amounts owed. Get your credit report and identify all open accounts, as well as the accounts on which you are an authorized user;
- Get statements for all financial accounts, including those in joint names, in your name or your spouse’s name;
- Open your own checking and savings accounts in your own name;
- Re-establish credit in your name;
- Save texts and emails;
- Don’t talk about your marital problems on social media, even through direct message;
- Don’t do anything or post anything during your separation you wouldn’t want to your spouse or children to know about.
Before you separate, you and your spouse need to sit down and work through the rules of your separation. You will need to answer these questions:
- How will both households’ bills get paid?
- How will we manage our finances during our separation?
- What will the children’s parenting time schedule be?
- How will we handle school, extra-curricular events, birthday parties, church?
- What will we tell the children?
- How will we communicate/work through issues during our separation?
- Will we date? If so, what are the rules?
Attending marital counseling is a smart move. You can work through all of your separation rules and agreements with your marriage counselor and then focus on addressing the issues in your marriage with your marriage counselor during your separation.
Legal Steps to Protect Yourself
Texas does not have formal separation. The only way to get Orders that govern your children and your property during a separation is to file for divorce. However, there are some legal steps you can take to protect yourself. These include:
- Separation agreement: This can lay out the terms of a separation, including how finances will be handled and a parenting plan during separation. This is an agreement between you and your spouse but it is not enforceable the way a court order is — which means you will have to file for divorce if you need enforceable court orders during your separation;
- Postnuptial agreement: The legal character of your assets and marital estate can be changed with a postnuptial agreement. Couples may have financial issues that need to be resolved in order for the marriage to have a chance, and a postnuptial agreement can resolve those issues without having to divorce.
Contact Us Today for Assistance
When contemplating a divorce or marital separation, Lazar Law can guide you in the available legal options while ensuring your rights and best interests are protected. To schedule a confidential consultation, call or contact our Austin divorce lawyers online today.