What makes divorce such an exciting process is that it combines the formalities of a full-fledged legal case and the personal aspects of the relationship between you, your spouse, and your children. Combine all of these issues with time crunches, stress, anxiety, and a lot of unknown factors, and you have a recipe for a contentious yet hopefully productive process.
The wide array of relevant issues in your divorce will come into focus early and often in your divorce case. What do you want to see accomplished regarding custody of your children? Are you concerned about supporting yourself and your children after the divorce? What assets or debts are relevant to your case and will need to be divided between you and your spouse? These are just the tip of the iceberg questions to be dealt with in conjunction with your divorce.
Once you have identified the issues relevant to your case and considered what your goals are, the next step is determining your legal rights and duties about your divorce, your spouse, and your children. This can be the most challenging step because the law in Texas that covers divorce is complex and outside of most people's expertise or knowledge.
That is where hiring an experienced family law attorney comes into play. In conjunction with your divorce, one of the most critical decisions will be deciding upon an attorney to walk with and guide you during your case. Selecting the wrong attorney can mean increased costs, time, and a failure to achieve the goals you have set out for yourself and your family.
With that said, the goals of the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, are to educate our clients on their rights and to answer their questions about their rights. In today's blog post, we will discuss the different concerns you may have as you begin to learn about divorces in Texas. In doing so, we will go over a handful of the questions that you ought to be concerned with as you meet with and eventually hire an attorney.
What will happen to your property in a divorce?
Texas is what is known as a community property state. This means that there is a presumption in place that all property owned by you and your spouse at the time of your divorce is jointly owned by the community. This property is to be divided up in your case in some form or fashion, depending on what you and your spouse agree to in mediation. Alternatively, if you and your spouse cannot settle your property issues outside of a court, a judge will divide community property in a just and equitable fashion. This means that the judge will consider the circumstances of your case and either spouse's fault in the breakup of the marriage and divide the property like this.
Retirement accounts, business interests, your home, bank accounts, and debts are all relevant when discussing the division of community property in your divorce. Many people believe that community property will be divided 50/50 in their divorce. This may or may not be accurate, however. Just and equitable means that a judge will take a lot of different factors into consideration when dividing up your community estate.
The dividing up of community property can be one of the most critical aspects of your divorce; how you and your spouse divide up the property or how a judge do so will determine the outcome of a handful of your financial goals associated with your divorce.
How long will your divorce take?
This is probably the first question most people ask about a potential divorce case. Divorces in Texas take a minimum of sixty days. The legislature has made this a law to provide people like you and your spouse with a cooling-off period. In other words, the legislature wants you to take some time to figure out if you're going to get a divorce or if you filed out of a momentary bout of anger or frustration.
Now that we have covered the shortest period that your divorce can last consider how long your divorce is likely to take. Many divorces settle outside of court. The vast majority of divorces do. You and your spouse will be given ample opportunity to discuss the case between yourselves, your lawyers, and in mediation. Most courts in Texas will require that you mediate your case at least once before seeing a judge for a contested trial.
If you and your spouse cannot agree to which of you your child will be residing with primarily after the divorce or have a complex property division to attend to, it is more likely that your case will be on the longer end of things than on the shorter. The more significant the disagreements between you and your spouse, the more likely it is that you will require more time to discuss and negotiate the terms of your divorce.
This should tell you a couple of things: one, if you and your spouse have legitimate concerns with specific issues related to your divorce, then you may find that going to a trial is a likelihood. Most people going through a divorce are not in this position, however. You and your spouse are likely to find that the issues you face will not be resolved better in a courtroom than in negotiation with one another.
Is your divorce truly uncontested?
Many people who come in to discuss their divorce situation with me will tell me that their case is "uncontested." I think each person has their definition of what uncontested means. In an actual, uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will have come to a resolution on all issues associated with your divorce before filing. That means all property, child custody, and other subjects must have been sorted out in full.
Invariably, when I ask more questions of the person who is convinced they have an uncontested divorce, it becomes apparent that their divorce is not unanimous. It may be close, but it is not genuinely uncontested. Even if you have just a few issues to sort out with your spouse, it is wise to hire an attorney to help you negotiate your settlement terms and draft the final paperwork that covers your territory.
Hiring an attorney does not mean that your uncontested or nearly uncontested divorce will suddenly become contested. Believe it or not- a family law attorney will be happy to help you bridge whatever gap is apparent between you and your spouse to avoid a long, protracted divorce case. Often some solutions are staring you in the face, but due to your inexperience in divorce, they will not be as apparent to you as they are to your attorney.
Ultimately you will have the final say in anything related to your divorce- whether you hire an attorney or not. The benefit of having an attorney by your side is that you can gain a broader and deeper perspective on the divorce process while ensuring that your rights are protected. Finally, an attorney can help you manage your divorce case in a cost-efficient manner as well. This is true whether or not you have an uncontested divorce on your hands.
More important questions to ask regarding divorce will be discussed in tomorrow's blog post.
I hope that the subject matter we have covered today has been exciting and relevant to your circumstances. If you have any questions about what you've read today or want some clarification on a point or two, please consider contacting the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, today. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations in our office six days a week, where your questions can be addressed and answered.