In yesterday's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we introduced the subject of the relationship between personal finances and divorce. The two do not have to at odds with one another but I can tell you from experience a lot of people find themselves in a position where they certainly are. There are some things that you can do to prepare for a divorce from a financial perspective. There are other things that are out of your control. Our blog today will focus on those steps that you can take to put yourself on a better footing as far as your personal finances are concerned as you head into a divorce case.
What do you really earn at your job?
Your yearly salary or wages will be an important factor in your divorce case. For instance, if you anticipate that your children will be living primarily with your spouse after the divorce then that means that you will likely be responsible for paying child support. That child support is based on how many children are before the court in this divorce and how much your net monthly resources are. Generally speaking the more children you have and the more money you make the more in child support you will be responsible for paying.
Child support is but one of a number of areas where how much money you make is relevant. You should have paystubs ready for your attorney that shows your hourly wage or salary that you are paid. Your attorney can then make a determination as to what your "real" salary or wages are and can submit that in writing to the judge. The judge will rely on this information if your case has to go to a hearing or trial.
Keep track of your day’s events and your habits
We tend to remember a lot better those things that we document. Keeping track of your daily habits- spending or otherwise- can help you diagnose if you have problems spending money or engaging in other behavior that could be harmful to you and your case.
During your case, you and your spouse will begin to share visitation with your children. If your spouse arrives late to pick up your son, fails to pay you child support on time or in full or any other issue arises it is important that you be able to keep an accurate record of those events. In the event that you need to file an enforcement case against your spouse for violating your court orders, an accurate record will need to be kept so specific dates and times can be cited in your enforcement petition.
Keep in mind that writing down your habits and thoughts can be therapeutic for some people. If you can consistently write down your feelings on a log or journal you are less likely to want to share those thoughts with your children or to lash out in anger or frustration at your spouse. Both of those are behaviors that you should seek to avoid during the course of a divorce.
The best way to know what and where you are spending your money is to keep a log. Technology helps in this regard. Most cell phones have a built-in application that allows you to take quick notes throughout the day. Your checking account probably allows you to have online access that updates as soon as you use your debit card. What I am trying to say is that you don’t have much of an excuse to not be aware of how you are spending your money throughout the week.
The last thing I will mention about keeping track of your habits is that you should be especially aware of what you do while your children are with your spouse. Self-medicating through retail therapy (shopping) is not uncommon for moms and dads going through the divorce. The time that you used to spend with your children should not be filled with going to the store and buying things. There is nothing wrong with shopping or buying the things that you want- if you can afford them. However, if you are buying things to fill up your time or to take your mind off your divorce I could suggest about a thousand alternative activities that would be more productive and fulfilling for you.
What is a “want” and what is a “need”?
I think we have all been guilty of saying that we need something when we really don't, in fact, need that thing. As Americans, we are among the wealthiest people on the planet no matter what your actual income is. If you were to stack up your belongings and possessions and compare them to even people from other industrialized, developed nations your stack would likely tower over most any other people from around the world.
This is all to say that our views on what we need and what we want are probably not the most accurate. We begin to feel comfortable with the things that we have and then look at our neighbor with the newest this or that. Next thing we know you are in line to purchase that item as well. This is a dangerous habit to fall into and can actually violate court orders that bar you from engaging in any activities that involve wasting of community resources. Your best bet is to live within your means during this time period.
Living within your means is easier when you understand what it is that you actually need to get through your day. Your divorce should make it painfully obvious to you that you need your children. Being away from them for long stretches for the first time in their lives should pinpoint that need almost immediately. I can’t tell you how many parents have told me that if only they could get more time with their children in the divorce that they wouldn’t need anything else, This is the most accurate and truthful statement that I can think of regarding need versus want.
Help your children to understand that you love them
This may seem like an obvious thing that every parent already does- and for the most part, it is. However, your circumstances are changing as a result of your divorce. The things that were bedrocks in your life are now no longer so secure. You are taking all of this in as an adult with an adult’s experiences and perspective. Imagine for a moment that you are your children’s shoes- without any of those experiences and none of the perspective that you have. How would you feel right now if you were them?
Kids have an innate ability to understand when something is wrong. You can see it in their faces that they know when something is off about your family. The problem with their ability to quickly diagnose a problem in the family is that their instinct much of the time is to believe that they are the cause of those problems.
In order to counteract these mistaken beliefs, it is important that you take time out of your day to reinforce the core principles of your family. Your love for them, your desire to care for them and the security that those emotions provide them needs to be communicated. It is not enough to simply be present in many instances- you need to verbally demonstrate these concepts to them.
Another aspect of parenting that many moms and dads going through divorce lose sight of is that it is important to tell your children that your spouse loves them too. This may seem counterintuitive during a divorce but follow with me here for a moment. If your children can see you speaking well of your spouse, even during a difficult divorce, that ought to further reinforce those principles of your family like love and togetherness. Your children are living in a world that is being split in two. You and your spouse have the ability to work against those feelings of being split up by confirming that love and togetherness is still something valuable.
Think about how you have arranged your life and become more intentional about it
In our busy lives, it is easy to focus on your job, your family and not much else. The details of our lives often times wind up going in one ear and out the other, or even in between the couch cushions or seats of your vehicle. Add a divorce into our busy realities and you can see how quickly life can begin to spiral out of control. We want to be able to get a hold of our responsibilities and anything else that is important to us, but a divorce is a hard time to make those kinds of lifestyle changes.
My advice would be to start to get organized about your life and your finances before your divorce begins. Can you start to keep track of the things that you spend and the places you go before your divorce? Absolutely. It takes time and effort, but it can be done. Rather than going through life floating from job to home to your next meal you can become more intentional about how you act, where you are going and what you are doing.
Organization is the key to all of this. If you are not a person that is naturally inclined towards organization then this may be an especially difficult step for you to take. For some of us, just the thought of organizing our lives is enough to give us a stomach ache. With that said, however, I can tell you that the clients who are the most organized are the ones who feel like they have some degree of control over their lives. If you are running from one fire to the next with the hose out you are never going to feel like you can get a firm grip on your activities or your divorce case.
Take this piece of advice and start to apply it to your life little by little. You don’t need to file every piece of paper that’s in your closet but you can clean out your email inbox and then move on to your car. Maybe your spouse was never one to help you organize the file cabinet. Now, there’s nothing holding you back from doing so. If you take these things piece by piece you will find that organization is a manageable goal.
All things- both good and bad- come to an end
This is a piece of advice that my grandfather would tell me while I was growing up and I am passing it on to all of you right now. This is a thought that would help me keep my life in proper perspective. Right now may not be the best time in your life. However, it will resolve itself no matter how difficult your particular circumstances may be. What’s more- you have control over your divorce more than you might think. Talk with your attorney early on in your case about what goals you may have for your divorce. You may be surprised to learn how quickly you can achieve those goals and move on to a more enjoyable phase of your life.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
If you want to know more about how to prepare, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “13 Dirty Tricks to Watch Out For in Your Texas Divorce, and How to Counter Them" Today!”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Key Elements of a Divorce for persons over the age of 50
- 7 Tips for Divorcing After Age 50 in Texas
- Divorcing After Age 50 in Texas: What it Can Mean for You and Your Spouse
- Texas Divorce and Retirement & Employment Benefits by the Numbers
- Is Social Security Considered Separate Property in a Texas Divorce?
- Will My Spouse Get Part of My Retirement in Our Texas Divorce?
- Husband Loves His Wife and Wants a Divorce in Texas “On Paper” for Strategic Financial Reasons?
- Roadmap of Basic Divorce Procedure in Texas
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- 6 Mistakes that can Destroy Your Texas Divorce Case
- 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
- Does it Matter who Files First in a Texas Divorce?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.