Do I Need a Lawyer to Get a Divorce? Frequently Asked Questions about Hiring a Lawyer

Many people believe that a divorce in Texas should be easy, that it is just a status change ending the marriage and that it does not directly impact other issues.

However, that is not the case. A divorce in Texas involves other issues including property and debts, children, and the status change from married to divorce. You cannot get divorced without dealing with those other issues.

Many people file for divorce in Texas without the assistance of an attorney. The internet is an amazing thing. If you search long enough you can find all the necessary documents online that you’ll actually need to get a divorce in Texas. There is no law stating that you absolutely must have an attorney’s assistance in filing and a court will grant your divorce without a lawyer representing you. It can be done.

Do I legally have to hire a lawyer to get a divorce in Texas?

No there is no legal requirement that you hire a lawyer for your divorce in Texas.

Five reasons that a person should consider hiring a divorce lawyer include:

  1. Expert advice
  2. Reduce stress
  3. Avoid mistakes
  4. Binding agreement
  5. Avoid delays

Can I use the same attorney for both my custody case and my divorce?

Yes. A divorce case takes care of more than just the divorce. It is mandatory that if there are children that those children be included in the divorce.

In other words, orders will be established to cover children’s issues such as:

  1. Where will the children live?
  2. What will visitation look like?
  3. Medical support
  4. Child support
  5. Decision making

Can I do the divorce myself in Texas?

The answer depends on several factors, including the personalities of you and your spouse and the importance of what's at stake.

Though it is not recommended, some people choose not to use divorce lawyers to handle their divorce. If you have any issues relating to property distribution, children, or claims to alimony, do not complete a divorce without consulting an attorney.

Why should I hire a divorce lawyer?

Whether a party really needs a divorce lawyer depends on the facts of the case. Lawyers are professionals and know their area of law very well. They can offer you their advice and expertise through your divorce.

Divorce lawyers will also see problems, pitfalls, and issues that may not occur to divorcing spouses who are representing themselves such as:

  1. Custody arrangements
  2. Property divisions issues
  3. Child support enforcement issues
  4. Alimony issues
  5. Tax treatment
  6. Exercising possession of and access to your children
  7. Discovery of hidden assets

An analogy I like is although you can perform your own surgery, it is generally a better idea if you go to a doctor instead.

How important is having an attorney for your divorce in Texas?

Many people file for divorce in Texas without the assistance of an attorney. The necessary documents that you’ll need to get a divorce in Texas are online.

There is no law stating you absolutely must have an attorney’s assistance in filing and a court will grant your divorce without a lawyer representing you. It can be done.

It’s my opinion, however, that you should have an attorney when the time comes to file for divorce. I know, it’s shocking to hear that an attorney would advise you to hire an attorney for your divorce. Stay with me, though. There are advantages to having a divorce attorney by your side that go beyond simply having someone else do the lion’s share of the work for you.

If my spouse has a divorce lawyer do I need one?

No, but you probably should have your own lawyer if your spouse has already retained his or her own divorce attorney. Although divorces in Texas happen all the time with one or even no lawyers involved, that does not mean it is necessarily in your best interest to go without.

I think it is a good idea for everyone to hire a divorce lawyer. That way, they know they are agreeing to something reasonable. Generally, when one person is represented and the other spouse is not, the spouse that is represented does better in the divorce.

The most one-sided agreements I have seen have been when one spouse has a divorce lawyer and the other does not.

Can we just hire one lawyer to do the divorce?

A divorce lawyer can only represent one spouse in a divorce.

When one spouse separately hires a divorce lawyer, the lawyer only has a duty to that spouse. The divorce lawyer has no duty to the other spouse and may even have a duty to act to the detriment of the other spouse when it is permissible and to the benefit of the spouse who hired the lawyer.

However, if you agree on all issues, the attorney can prepare papers for their client based on that agreement. The other party does not have to get a separate attorney.

What should I look for in a divorce attorney?

Having an attorney to represent you in your divorce is one of the most important aspects of a successful case. Your personal knowledge of divorce is based on stories you’ve probably heard from friends or family members and as a result, you don’t really know what to expect.

That’s fine. You’ve never been divorced before and, as I tell clients all the time, hopefully, you never have to talk to another family law attorney again. The fact remains that if you do have to go through a divorce, you should be represented by an effective and experienced family law attorney.

The following are some characteristics I believe a family law attorney should embody:

  1. The ability to communicate
  2. Willingness to negotiate
  3. Honesty
  4. Experience in advocacy
  5. Credentials
  6. Location

The ability to communicate

It goes without saying that the key to any good relationship is the ability to communicate. Whether your attorney is communicating a legal argument to a judge or is simply updating you on the drafting of a document, the transfer of knowledge from your attorney’s brain to your ears is critical.

Willingness to Negotiate

Television and movies would have us believe that most lawsuits wind up before a judge where the lawyers duke it out verbally with one another for all the world to see. If we can tap the breaks on this image for a moment, I’m here to tell you that most lawsuits (including divorces) settle long before a court date is even necessary.

Honesty

Lawyers have a bad reputation for not always being honest, but from my experience, I can safely say that the vast majority of attorneys I’ve encountered are fair and do seek to put their client’s interests ahead of their own. If you are in the market for a family law attorney, it is critical to have a conversation with the attorney prior to hiring him or her.

Experience in Advocacy

Family law attorneys spend more time in court than almost any other kind of attorney. However, this does not mean the family law attorney you’re set to hire actually has extensive courtroom experience. While a hearing or trial can certainly be won or lost during the preparation stage, a lawyer should be a strong advocate in the courtroom for their client.

Credentials

The most important thing to look for in selecting a divorce or family lawyer in Texas is that they are licensed to practice in the state where the case is ongoing.

I sometimes get clients who have a case in a state other than Texas. Unfortunately, depending on the circumstances, I may be unable to help them and need to refer them to an attorney licensed to practice in that state. Other times, I am able to help them because the facts of their case mean we can open a case in Texas and move forward.

Location

Another thing to consider when hiring a divorce or family lawyer is where they are located. My office is located in North Houston in the Spring, Texas area. My office is about halfway between Conroe, Texas and Houston, Texas. As a result, about half my family law and divorce cases are either in Montgomery County or Harris County.

I do practice in other counties in Texas and have taken cases in locations such as Waco, TX and Dallas, TX. However, before taking those cases, I suggested it might be more cost-effective for those potential clients to consider hiring an attorney whose office was more local. The reason is they would have the added expense of paying for my travel time to those locations whenever there was a hearing.

Am I entitled to a court-appointed attorney?

Not unless there are special circumstances. Court-appointed attorneys are generally only available in situations where you cannot afford an attorney and:

  1. The government is bringing a case against you or
  2. You could possibly be incarcerated

You do not see court-appointed attorneys as often as you do in criminal law. However, sometimes you will see them in cases involving:

  1. Enforcement of child support or
  2. Child Protective Services cases

What do I do if I can’t afford an attorney?

I discuss this question in greater detail in the following chapter.

In Harris County and other counties, you may be able to find a program that can offer help if you meet certain income requirements.

There are often long waiting lists for these programs.

Ebook

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Frequently Asked Questions About Uncontested and No-Fault Divorce
  2. Frequently Asked Questions About Legal Separation
  3. Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Void Marriage in Texas
  4. Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Texas Annulment
  5. 10 Facts You Never Knew About Texas Annulment
  6. How an annulment is different than a divorce in Texas
  7. Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Common Law Marriage and Divorce
  8. Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Texas Marriage
  9. Frequently Asked Questions in Texas Divorce Cases
  10. 15 Myths About Divorce in Texas
  11. 9 Questions to Ask Yourself and the Divorce Lawyer Before You Hire Them
  12. Common Questions about Texas Prenuptial and Marital Agreements
  13. Can I sue my spouse's mistress in Texas?

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan 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 by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, 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.

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