Now that you have been served with an Original Petition for Divorce, you are the “Respondent” in your divorce case. As the Respondent, it is crucial that you act as soon as possible to protect yourself and avoid having a default judgment taken against you.
Once you have been served you have roughly 20 days to file an answer and make an appearance in your divorce suit. If you fail to make an appearance within the allowed time period, your spouse can go forward with a Default hearing, where often they are granted everything they request in divorce court. This means they can be awarded property and rights related to your children that you are entitled to (Child Custody).
- Make copies of all financial records.
It’s very important to have an accurate picture of all your assets and debts. You’ll need to know all bank accounts, savings accounts, loan accounts, credit accounts, tax returns, etc. as all of these will need to be divided in your divorce. Having copies made before you actually separate from your spouse will save you the trouble of trying to track records down later.
- Obtain a credit report.
A credit report is a useful tool in a divorce, it helps you to ascertain all the debts associated with your credit score. If your credit score is tied to your soon to be ex-spouse, a credit report will help to provide a clear picture of your current financial status and will identify any problem areas. It may also potential reveal loans or lines of credit that you did not realize were opened in your name during your marriage.
- Get your own accounts.
You will need your own accounts once the divorce is finalized anyway and your own accounts will give you freedom and peace of mind during the pendency of your divorce. In a community property state such as Texas all assets and debts are still considered community property, but having your own account allows you to handle your own bills during the divorce and prevents your soon to be ex from control over your money.
- Get your debt under control.
Divorce is an expensive process as it is. Reducing your debt will increase your potential credit line in the wake of a divorce as well as lessen your bills you will be responsible for with only your income after a divorce.
- Start a budget.
A divorce forces most people to live on one income when they are accustomed to living on two incomes. Establishing a budget will help you live within your means and make the transition from two incomes to one income more manageable. Make sure to be reasonable; you want to live within your means, not incur additional debts during the divorce process.