Is divorce right for you? That’s probably a question that you’ve asked yourself a time or two recently. After all, you’re reading through blog posts of a family law attorney, so you at least have some clue that you need to consider the option. However, whether or not you move forward and get the divorce is a different subject altogether. The decision to get a divorce may be the most crucial decision you ever make- right behind your decision to get married. It is a lot easier to get into a marriage than to get out of one, and you should consider whether or not this is the best and only option for you to pursue at this point.
Most people speak to their spouse about how they are feeling regarding the possibility of filing for divorce, and I would recommend that you do the same. You owe it to yourself and your spouse to at least attempt to work through the issues that have led you to this point. An exception would be being the victim of domestic violence or something similar. In those situations, your safety and that of your children take precedence, and you should move to protect yourself as quickly as possible. In other circumstances, you can take an opportunity to discuss your options with your spouse.
Have you all attempted to attend counseling or therapy sessions? Often your place of worship offers counseling with your priest or pastor at no charge. Suppose the thought of talking to another person about your marriage problems gives you shivers. In that case, you should consider how, if you file for divorce, your entire life story may be told to not only a judge but any person that is inside the courtroom on the day or a hearing or trial in your case.
The bottom line is that you need to make an effort. Couples divorce only when no other option seems fruitful. If you do not fight to save your marriage, the odds are good that it will not be saved. Present yourself as a partner willing to do what it takes to help your marriage stay afloat. If your marriage fails and you need to file for divorce at the end of the day, that’s fine. But make an effort today to avoid the difficulties associated with divorce.
One last item I wanted to share: do not think that your divorce will allow you to settle a score with your spouse or address a wrong that you believe has been committed against you. I can almost promise you that it will not. A packed courtroom where you get to expose your spouse for the person they indeed are will almost certainly not come into being due to you filing for divorce. The more likely scenario is that you all never see the inside of a courtroom, and you never even get to address those wrongs directly.
Will your divorce be uncontested?
This is an important question to ask yourself before filing. Speak to your spouse about divorce and eventually agree that you have exhausted all other possible ways to address your marriage problems without success. A divorce may be the option you pursue. In filing for divorce, you have the option to settle on any issue related to the divorce and thus avoid ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. This is known as an uncontested divorce.
An uncontested divorce is rare, seeing as how you all must agree on every issue of your case. If you can agree upon child custody, visitation, possession, access, support, and property division issues, then your case may be uncontested. In that case, you can file your divorce petition, have your spouse sign a waiver of service agreement, and from there have a final order drafted reflecting your agreements in the areas I highlighted above.
I would recommend that you hire an attorney to represent you regardless of whether your divorce is contested or not. The most important document that comes out of your divorce is the divorce decree, which provides your and your spouse’s marching orders regarding property and children. You will want an order that is clear, concise, and easy to follow. If you do not get a clear, concise, and easy-to-follow order, you run the risk of your spouse violating the order and the judge declaring the order to be unenforceable.
To avoid this, hire an experienced family law attorney who can assist you with negotiating the issues of your case and then drafting an order that reflects the settled agreement between you and your spouse. It will cost you more money to hire an attorney than it would not to hire an attorney, but by doing so, you will have an order that is well-drafted and one that you will not need to return to court for in a year to correct an error. Also, an order will need to be drafted either way- whether you hire an attorney or not. If not the attorney, then you will be the one who will need to spend the time drafting the order. The odds are decent that you will spend excessive time drafting the order only to find out that you have made mistakes that require revision.
Approach the divorce as a transaction
It is easy for me to say this since I am not going through the divorce, but if you can treat your divorce like a business transaction rather than a referendum on your value as a parent or spouse, you will be better off. Essentially you are attempting to negotiate time with your child, child support, and a division of the rights and duties associated with your child. On the other side of the ledger, you would like to retain as much of your wealth as you can. It may sound callous to put divorce into these terms, but it is the reality of your case.
As such, do not approach your case as a person with a score to settle. We discussed earlier how you likely would not be allowed to settle this score in the way you hoped. Do not approach our case as a means to expose your spouse. Instead, approach your case as a means to get out of a bad relationship, provide yourself with some peace of mind and re-establish a loving and strong relationship with your child. These are all achievable goals.
Suppose you allow emotion to enter into the equation excessively, your chances of settling your case decrease dramatically. You will then find yourself staring at a case that needs to go before a judge. Not only does this remove a significant amount of any control you could have exerted over the case, but it also creates a situation where the costs of your case will skyrocket. Trials in divorce cases are expensive, and yours will not be an exception. Consider what you can do to work with your spouse before and during the divorce to settle as many issues as you can between yourselves. You all know your family better than anyone, and if you are able, it is worth it to speak with them to resolve any outstanding issues.
Questions on divorce and the steps needed to prepare for one? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
A consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is free of charge and is available six days a week. We represent clients across southeast Texas and would be honored to do the same for you and your family. No divorce is easy, but our attorneys will work with you to accomplish your goals and provide you with the peace of mind you are seeking.