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It takes a village (or a few extra people) to get a divorce

The Texas Supreme Court recently decided that residents of the state can file for divorce by completing ready-made forms instead of relying on an attorney to put in the work. These forms may offer a solution for divorcing couples who have no disagreements over the terms, including child custody, child support and alimony. But for most spouses looking to get out of their marriage, they're a poor substitute for professional guidance.

What can these professionals offer you that an online or paper divorce form can't? A family law attorney, first and foremost, can walk you through the sometimes confusing legal language detailing the terms of your divorce. He or she can also act as your advocate as you negotiate the aforementioned disagreements you're likely to have with your spouse. This may be your first divorce, but an experienced family law attorney will have been through the process countless times and knows your rights and the challenges you're facing.

Another professional to call on might be a certified financial planner with proven experience in handling divorces. It's important to keep in mind that you're not just divorcing your spouse; you're also getting a divorce from your spouse's financial life. Joint bank accounts, credit cards and mortgages will all need to be closed or transferred to single accounts, a process that carries risks for you even after your divorce is finalized. You may also be supporting yourself and your children on one income instead of two. A divorce financial planner can help you make a successful transition from married to single without falling into fiscal ruin.

Finally, don't underestimate the impact your emotions have on the legal and financial decisions you make. Rather than have your attorney and financial planner ride that emotional roller coaster with you, you may want to find a good therapist to talk to about the experience. At the very least, be sure to surround yourself with a network of friends and family members who are willing to listen to you and offer emotional support. Being able to clear your head this way will help you make smarter decisions about your future as a newly single person.

Source: The Washington Times, "Do you need a lawyer to get divorced? Yes, and don't stop there," Myra Fleischer, Feb. 5, 2013

  • Our Dallas law firm handles divorce and other family law matters for Texas residents. To learn more about our practice, visit our Dallas divorce page.

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