Divorce Options

Carrie D. Wilson, CFP ®, CDFA™
Divorce Financial Help:  Guiding Your Decisions Before, During and After Divorce

Although many couples may not be aware of it, there are several different options available in the state of Texas for reaching a divorce resolution.  Couples can choose the most appropriate method for their individual and family needs although most cases in Texas are settled outside a court of law by agreement.

The options available in Texas include:

  • Private Settlement Agreement
    This is the most basic method available.  The divorcing couple sits down together and works out a settlement that is agreeable to both of them.  This agreement can then be taken to an attorney who will put it into a legal form, or it can be used to complete a do-it-yourself divorce.
  • Do-It-Yourself Divorce
    Forms for handling a divorce without an attorney are commonly available at local libraries or online.  Numerous books are also sold that provide check lists or kits for approaching many of the issues related to divorce such as property division.

These two options can be inexpensive and relatively quick but may not be appropriate for couples with substantial assets or children.  Without the benefit of legal or financial advice, many couples may not understand or consider all aspects of the issues at hand.  If the husband or wife do not have equal information or equal power in the relationship, the needs of each party may not be adequately addressed.  Forms, checklists, and books do not necessarily inform you of your rights or assist you in completing what you are trying to accomplish in the most effective way.  In these scenarios, I can work with couples as a neutral financial expert to help them review their assets and liabilities and the implications of separating financially.

  • Mediation
    Mediation offers couples a way to work together to agree on a divorce resolution aided by a neutral professional.  The mediator can facilitate communication between the parties and help find solutions that are agreeable to both sides.  The couple, along with their legal counsel, meet together to focus attention on reaching a settlement and avoiding time in court.  As a financial professional, I can participate as an evaluator on financial issues.
  • Litigation
    Very few divorces end up in court but in a litigated divorce, the judge (or possibly a jury) makes the decisions for the parties involved.  Litigation is the divorce method for couples who cannot find a way to settle their differences on their own.  It is a process that can take months or years, use up valuable funds through expensive legal costs, and can be a negative and destructive experience.  Most couples consider litigation as the last resort.  Trained in divorce financial issues, I can provide valuable litigation support for my client and their legal team.
  • Collaborative Law
    Quickly becoming a popular divorce method in Texas, the collaborative process is based on the principles of dispute resolution.  Each couple with their lawyers meets with the collaborative team in order to find ways to address the needs of all parties involved.  The team includes the attorneys, a mental-health professional and a neutral financial professional.  All team members have completed collaborative specific training in order to facilitate the process of reaching an appropriate divorce agreement for those involved.  Each party agrees to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement outside of a court and to maintain open communication and information sharing.  Should the couple prove unable to resolve their differences outside of court, each professional will remove themselves from the proceedings.  I have completed interdisciplinary training in the collaborative divorce process and am passionate about helping clients arrive at their own resolutions through this team approach.

Each of these processes is available to couples as a method for reaching a divorce agreement and each method benefits from the participation of an experienced financial professional, trained in the issues of divorce.  Divorce is a major life transition and will determine the financial well being of each party for years to come.  Working with me, the parties involved can feel confident that their financial information has been reviewed and future issues and implications have been considered.