Did you recently get divorced? If so then you may have some questions related to your case that need to be answered. There are so many factors and components to a divorce case that it is easy to lose sight of Particular parts of a case that may not have seemed important to you at the beginning but are of greater interest to you now the air divorces are there coming to a close or has completed. For many people, it can seem like your divorce is never going to end. That your divorce will have a completion date Medicare was a total shock to you. After all, it can seem like hey divorce is an all-consuming and never-ending process. However, I can assure you that your divorce will come to an end.
The key to this discussion is whether or not you will accomplish your goals in the divorce to the degree to which you can act intentionally within your case. Those people with the best plan and the willingness to follow through on that plan are typically the ones who achieved the best results. Although many circumstances are a valid part have any divorce most of you out there considering getting divorced can overcome your circumstances with the right game plan, a correct mindset focused on acting intentionally as well as a good and experienced attorney by your side. If you can combine these factors within your case then almost no circumstance would be able to topple you and push you off track from completing your case.
What should you do before closing out your divorce?
There is a range of steps you should take in your case before officially signing off on your divorce. I realize that everyone reading this blog post finds themselves in different circumstances. As a result, your particular focus in a divorce may be different than your neighbors or another client of ours. This is why developing a strong relationship with your attorney is so important period your attorney will be able to help guide you through this process and help you to better understand what it means to Be hey diligent and attention to the detail-oriented person. Just because your case is coming to a close and you can see the finish line does not mean that you necessarily need to lunge for the tape. If you are a couple 100 feet from the finish line and you lunged for that tape you may find yourself flat on your face.
After putting in so much time and effort into your divorce you want to make sure that all your efforts went towards something positive for you and your family. Performing it basic amount of due diligence with your attorney at the interview divorce case is the best way to ensure that you achieve success in the closing stages of your case and that you have a great chance at continuing to be successful once your divorce is over with. After all, getting through a divorce is not the hard part. The hard part is getting through your divorce with your sanity intact and your most important goals having been accomplished.
What you may be asking yourself is how do you get to this stage? What are the best ways to make it through a difficult divorce, complete your case responsibly and see to it that your post-divorce life is fast-tracked towards success? Is there one decision that you can make that above all else will help guide you towards these important goals? Not only do I believe that there is one overarching rule or tip that can help you to do so but I am going to share it with you now. Any of you who are familiar with our blog should know that I have strong opinions when it comes to hiring an attorney for your divorce case. Among the strongest of my opinions is that you need to have an attorney representing you in your divorce if you have children or property that you need to negotiate through.
In these types of circumstances, the stakes are just too high for You to disregard the importance of your case and choose not to hire an attorney. Hiring an attorney does not primarily impact or benefit the attorney him or herself. Rather, by choosing to e hire an experienced and now eligible family law attorney you are directly impacting your future and that of your family primarily. Keep in mind that an attorney has specialized knowledge in the area of his or her preference. If you need to go into a family or court you are best served by having a family law attorney by your side. This is important given the number of general practice lawyers who are quite comfortable with telling you as a potential client that they are more than highly qualified and experienced in representing people like you in a divorce or child custody case. Instead, you should look to their specific levels of experience and determined whether or not you feel comfortable with that attorney representing you in your Family Law case.
When you are at the end of a divorce case you may feel simultaneous like taking a nap and spiking the football. You have already been through a great deal when it comes to your case and paying any more attention than you have to at this stage may seem like cruel and unusual punishment. Thinking about the sacrifices you have made, the amount of time that you have submitted as well as the overall stress that you have been under can seem to be a burden that is tough to shed.
However, now is not the time for you to expose yourself to potential liability by taking it easy and not remembering to focus on the details of your case. Many issues can slip past your attention towards the end of a divorce case because you have taken your eye off the ball. After running for so long do not lose sight of the fact a mistake at the end of a divorce case can be as costly as a mistake made at the beginning or in the middle. That your case will be over with regardless of whether or not you accomplish all your goals of the case does not make a difference. That is not a justification for not paying attention to the details and completing your case to the best of your abilities.
With that being said I wanted to spend some time closing out today's blog post by discussing what are some issues that you may encounter at the end of your divorce that need to be checked off your list before completing your case. Do not underestimate the degree to which overlooking anything can have significant impacts on your life both now and in the future. The thing about a divorce case is that you cannot always file a piece of paper to correct any mistakes that you made. Usually, you cannot do this.
Want to change your last name after your divorce? Plan ahead
To answer the question that we posed in the title of today's blog post if you want to have your last name changed as a result of your divorce case you may request to have that done. In your original petition for divorce or in your original counterpetition for divorce, you should ask that the court legally change your name. Note that these are the two documents that as the petitioner or respondent that you would need to file to change your last name. There are also time limits associated with this type of request. You may not amend or change your petition within so many days of a trial so you and your lawyer need to make sure that you make any changes in advance of the end of your case.
A judge will not automatically allow you to change your last name as the result of completing a divorce case. If you are a woman who took her husband's last name when you married this is something that you will need to think about in advance to get the change done. Without a court order approving your request for a name change, you will not be able to legally go by your former name or any other name you wish.
In the closing stage of your divorce, you may be asked to attend a prove-up hearing in front of your family court judge. Even if you have never gone to court before in your divorce you will need to be able to do this. The judge will want to review your paperwork and hear your responses, under oath, to a series of basic questions regarding your divorce. One of those questions that you will be asked deals with whether you are changing your last name to avoid creditors, criminal penalties, or for any other reason like this. So long as you are not, the judge will not deny your request to change your last name.
The moral of this story is that you cannot wake up the night before you plan on signing your final decree of divorce and discover that you want to change your last name. While this is not a major issue in the grand scheme of your divorce it is something that needs to be accounted for early in the process. Plan by letting your attorney know at the beginning of your case that you want your last name changed at the end of your divorce. This will give you plenty of time to either insert that language into your petition or counterpetition or to amend either document if you need to update the language that is included in either.
When you have a final decree of divorce that approves your request for a name change you can use the document to obtain a new Social Security card with your new last name or go about any of the processes involved in changing your last name anywhere else you need to. The minutiae of doing something like this may not be the thing that you think about most frequently at the beginning of a divorce but it is a detail that has an impact on your life to a certain extent once your case has concluded. If you would like to change your last name to move past your case and have a new start after your divorce then think ahead and don't neglect the details.
Retirement issues- take care of them before the end of your case
A topic that can have dramatic impacts on your life post-divorce is the matter of having your retirement situation accounted for. The language that I am using regarding this subject is purposefully broad. Every one of us is in a different position when it comes to our retirement. Some of us have a great deal of money saved for retirement. Some of us have very little or none at all. For some of us, retirement savings are of extreme importance due to our age. For others, retirement savings are a concern for another day. Where each of you is in your retirement process can be as unique as your divorce case itself.
Saving for retirement doesn't just reflect your values or your ability to save, it reflects hard work. Regardless of the vehicle that you have used to save for retirement- 401K, Individual Retirement Account (IRA), pension plan, or other retirement apparatus, you have worked hard to contribute to this account through working hard in your day to day life. Nobody who manages to save a good deal of money for retirement does so out of luck or happenstance. That would be like a player who just won the Super Bowl wondering how he ever got to this point.
Just like the quarterback who orchestrated the game-winning drive, if you have saved diligently for retirement then you must have done so with a plan in mind. Living on less than you make, having a commitment to saving each month and year over your working life, and meeting regularly with an investment advisor may have been just a few of the methods you employed to help ensure that you would be in a strong position once it became time for you to stop working. Retirement, after all, is not measured in time but rather in dollars. Once you have the dollars in place to sustain you, no matter your age, you can retire. Until then, you probably ought to continue working and adding to your nest egg.
That brings us to your divorce. If you are going through a divorce then you may either be in a position where you have retirement savings to protect your retirement savings to obtain a part of. As much as we have been discussing so far in today's blog post your position as if you were the person who was saving money in your retirement account, you may instead be the person who is married to someone with a significant amount of money saved in their retirement account. In that case, you are likely looking at this subject with a completely different set of eyes.
If you are in line to receive a portion of your spouse's retirement savings as a result of your divorce then you will need to become acquainted with a document known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). A QDRO is a document that instructs your retirement plan administrator to divide up and partition out a portion of your spouse's retirement savings to you. Sending in a copy of your final decree of divorce to Fidelity or Vanguard will not cut it. Rather, you will need to have a QDRO drafted and signed by the judge in your case to put the wheels into motion as far as having your spouse's retirement benefits partitioned for your benefit.
This is not a document that you can easily have done after your divorce is over with. Once your final decree of divorce is signed off on by you, your spouse, and the judge your case should be over with. For that reason, it is much simpler to have this document prepared along with your final decree of divorce for the judge to review and sign off on at the time of your prove-up hearing. If you do not do so at that time you will need to file a motion to re-open the case and have the judge consider your QDRO at that time. This adds time and stress to a situation that was already long and difficult enough as it was, to begin with.
Questions about the material provided in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn not only about the world of Texas family law but also about how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.
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