It’s no secret that a divorce case is probably the least fun you will have perhaps in your entire life. I don’t mean to be dramatic and I don’t mean to tell you this to dissuade you from getting a divorce. There are a lot of things in life that aren’t a ton of fun but ultimately are good for us. A divorce is one of those things for many people.
Hiring the “right” attorney is certainly an important part of making it out of your divorce in one piece while simultaneously accomplishing your goals. Living in southeast Texas means that you will not struggle to find an attorney who would be more than happy to represent you in your divorce. Whether or not you would actually want to hire that attorney is an entirely different subject, however. You need to be discerning when it comes to choosing an attorney who you think has what it takes to help you and your family during this difficult time.
When a group of attorneys gets together to “talk shop” there are usually stories passed around of courtroom exploits and dramatic turns of event that have occurred in trials and hearings. Rarely do you ever hear much about painstaking preparation that made all the difference in divorce mediation.
With that said, I would argue that you should choose an attorney based on their ability to do just that. The odds of your divorce case going to a trial are slim. Meaning that you need for a swashbuckling trial attorney is slim as well.
What you actually need to hire is an attorney who isn’t afraid to put in the long hours it takes to be as prepared as possible to negotiate a strong settlement for you in mediation. A lot of attorneys will put little emphasis on the day to day maintenance of your case in favor of an attitude that once it comes time for a trial that is when the lawyer will “turn it on” and get with the program. Beware of attorneys who tell you war stories of their courtroom exploits and seem to skimp on details of how he or she will manage your case on a daily basis.
With that said, today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will focus on how you can manage your case, along with your attorney, to meet whatever goals you have for yourself and your family. We will begin by discussing the subject of goal setting.
Working with your attorney on setting goals
If you have never been divorced, never hired an attorney and know little about the legal system then you would have no reason to know what is a “reasonable” goal for your divorce and what is an “unreasonable” goal.
You may think that keeping your shirt in a divorce is the only reasonable goal a person could have in a divorce because your mind has been filled with horror stories about divorce as told to you by your cousin. On the other hand, you may also believe that getting spousal maintenance and the house after you and your spouse have only been married six months is reasonable.
My point is that different people have different goals and different perceptions about what is fair or possible in a divorce. There is no way for your attorney to know these things just by looking at you or looking at your case. All you can do is work with your attorney directly on goal setting.
I’m a glass-half-full sort of guy so I always ask clients to play the “magic wand” game with me. I tell the client that I’m going to make my pen turn into a magic wand. Once it has become a magic wand it can turn your goals into a reality for your divorce. What do they want to see happen? Then I shut up and listen to their goals.
Some of the goals are simple: “I want to be able to have a relationship with my child after the divorce, no matter what.” Some of the goals are ridiculous: “I want my ex-spouse to have to move out of the country after the divorce.” Sit with your lawyer and figure out what you want to accomplish and more importantly how you are going to accomplish the goals you have set forth.
Your lawyer will listen to you and can give you feedback. You don’t know what you don’t know, and your attorney can take some time to go over what goals he or she believes are achievable and what goals will take some effort or good fortune to accomplish. The tough part about this from the attorney’s perspective is that he or she will need to help you hone in on what can be accomplished in your specific case while not destroying any hopes of achieving greater things.
My goal for clients is to walk out of this conversation knowing what their likely outcome is, best case outcome is and the worst-case outcome is. Managing expectations and allowing you as the client to understand how the case will likely look are very important goals that I believe must be shared with a client early and often in a case.
Getting paperwork and evidence together
A lawyer’s job is less courtroom theatrics and more about managing paperwork and helping you as a client to fulfill your obligation to help add to that paperwork pile. By that, I mean that you will likely be asked to submit responses to requests for documents, statements and other information related to your divorce case. This is called “discovery.” Discovery occurs in almost every divorce and as a result, is a routine matter for offices to respond to.
However, that does not mean that it isn’t a pain in the backside to complete. You are going to need to coordinate with your attorney’s office on what needs to be filled out, what doesn’t need to be filled out and what a proper deadline should be to turn in documents and responses to discovery requests. While you will have thirty days to turn in responses it isn’t the wisest thing in the world to leave it until the 29th day to expect a response back from a client.
Begin inventory your assets and debts even before you file for divorce. This information will be essential for your attorney as you will be expected to turn in an inventory and appraisal to your judge early in your case. This is asking for a rundown of your household items, retirement accounts, bank account balances and things of that nature. You will need to appraise the “big ticket” items in your life so that a judge can get a better understanding of what sort of estate is in play for your divorce.
It is handy for you to be able to turn over a list of all property and debts to your attorney while you are still early in your case. The biggest day of your case will be final orders mediation. This is when you and your spouse will be negotiating for orders in your divorce.
Property division, as well as child custody, will be at stake. If you can provide your attorney with an idea of what is out there as far as property and debts he or she can begin to craft settlement proposals to show you in hopes of being able to move forward with some sooner rather later.
Questions about handling the back end of your divorce and life after divorce? Read tomorrow’s blog
Tomorrow’s blog post from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will be chalk full of tidbits on how to help your attorney organize your case for the latter stages of your divorce as well as tips on how to ease your transition into single-life after your divorce has wrapped up.
In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding your case please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our licensed family law attorneys are standing by to speak with you and to set up a free of charge consultation here in our office.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC 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, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC 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.