In yesterday's blog post from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we introduced the topic of how to speak and act inside the courthouse. It is not a sure thing that you will be attending a hearing in your divorce case. Most courts will require that you mediate your case at least once before heading to court for a contested hearing or trial and this requirement significantly reduces the number of spouses who have to go to court. However, since there is still a possibility that you will need to attend court I wanted to take a day to focus on this subject.
Today we will put a bow on courtroom decorum and then will expand our discussion into how to conduct yourself outside of court in the time period leading up to the end of your divorce. Even though it may feel like your divorce is done and over with once you have settled your case it is not officially complete and circumstances can change as a result. Before we delve into how your habits can affect the end of your divorce let's wrap up yesterday's conversation regarding courtroom behavior.
Remain calm when in court, no matter what
It is very tempting (and easy) to lose your composure if something doesn’t go your way in court. Suppose that you were listening to your spouse testify about something and he begins to lie. These could be subtle untruths that only you are aware of. While it would be easy to call your spouse a liar to your attorney it would not be appropriate to do so.
A lot of times I will give my client a legal pad to jot down their thoughts or to even pass me notes if something is significant enough. Keep track of your thoughts and pass them to your attorney. You are not in a position where your outbursts (justified or not) will lead to your case receiving any benefit. However, your attorney can use those lies against your spouse when he is being cross-examined. Leave it up to your attorney how to address those lies and do not take matters into your own hands.
Another time when it is easy to lose your cool is when you are the one on the witness stand. Attorneys are quite good at getting the opposing party to potentially lose control of their emotions while testifying. It is the other attorney's goal to not only get you to admit to things you may not want to but to look foolish while doing so. Anything he or she can do to cause you to lose credibility in front of the judge will be attempted. It isn't something personal- it's just business, as they say.
So, if the other attorney begins to ask you questions about any subject that may cause you to lose composure remember that how you act and how to present yourself can be just as important as the things that you say. Remain calm, be still and be respectful. Trust me when I say that the judge understands that you are under a lot of pressure and if you show restraint in the face of difficult questions that will help you to build a positive image of yourself in the judge’s mind.
Show courtesy to all members of the courtroom staff- not just the judge
If you are at a restaurant I'm willing to bet that you speak nicely to your server, the busboy and the hostess. You probably look at them in the eye, smile and thank you when appropriate. These are the sort of things that our parents told us to do growing up and have become second nature to us now. My advice would be to apply those same skills to the people that you will be interacting within the courthouse.
From the other attorney to your spouse, the bailiff, court reporter, and the court's clerk, you will find yourself coming into contact with more people than just a judge. These folks are not the fact finder in your case but they work directly with the fact finder. Showing respect to these folks would tell me that you are more likely to show respect to the judge. Do not get the mistaken impression that the other people in the courthouse are appropriate outlets for your frustration. Speak calmly and politely to these people and you will be in good shape.
Moving on to stage two of your life post-divorce- Patience is key
If the cause of your divorce was infidelity then you will want to pay special attention to this section. For starters, just because your spouse has cheated on you does not mean that you can go ahead and do the same. This is especially true when you have children. A judge can be very harsh to both you and your spouse if he finds out that there has been infidelity in or around the home when children are present. Even if you think what you are doing is harmless and will not impact your children my advice would be to avoid this behavior at all costs.
The simple truth is that even though you emotionally feel like you and your spouse are no longer together and are now ready to move on to date other people, the law says that you and your spouse are still married until the judge formally signs your Final Decree of Divorce. This means that for as long as your divorce lasts you are still married. Relationships with anyone but your spouse are therefore by definition extra-marital and not allowed. You may feel the need to confide in another person due to the stresses that your divorce case has put you under. I understand that completely. However, you have a lot of people in your life that can fulfill this role. A paramour is not one of them. Friends, family, your attorney, your paralegal, your pastor, your waitress, your tailor, your trainer- all of these people are better confidants about your divorce than a significant other.
Here’s something that may seem obvious to most of you reading this blog but may not be so apparent to others. By all means, if you are having an affair do not move that person into your home while the divorce lawsuit is still ongoing. Even if your spouse moves out of the house, do not immediately phone your girlfriend and let her know that the coast is clear to pack up her stuff. The coast certainly is not clear, first of all. Second of all- if you have children still living in the home this will create a very awkward and unhealthy living arrangement for the children. Your case will suffer for your having been too eager to move on to the next phase in your life.
Speaking of your kids- your new romantic partner should not cross paths with your children until your divorce is done and over with. That means that you have finalized your case, signed the Final Decree of Divorce and the judge has signed off on it. At that point, it is up to you how you want to handle introductions. Before then, however, it is not a good idea to make formal introductions or to ever have that person in your home with you and the kids.
If you are having an affair tell your attorney
With all of that said, if you are having an affair you need to tell your attorney. There is nothing worse for your case than to assume that nobody is aware of the affair only to be confronted with evidence on the day of a trial or hearing. While this information will not benefit your case, your attorney can take steps towards minimizing the impact of the evidence of your affair. I’m not going to tell you that it’s not embarrassing or not pleasant to have to fess up about your affair but it beats being surprised with evidence on the day of your hearing.
The divorce is going to be over- don’t get ahead of yourself
I know that it can seem like it is taking forever for your divorce to become final. At the very shortest, your divorce will take two months to complete. With this in mind, the months in between filing the Petition for Divorce and signing the Final Decree of Divorce can seem to take forever. All you are thinking about in the meantime is the money being spent on your lawyer, the time away from your family and work, as well as the possibilities that are in store for you in your post-divorce relationships.
The purpose of the divorce taking at a minimum two months to complete is that the State of Texas wants to make sure that you have actually thought about the consequences of your divorce and are sure that you want to move forward. You may be surprised to find out that many people who enter into a divorce have changes of heart midway through the process. Obviously, the State does not want you to get a divorce unless you are sure that is what is best for you and your family. The sixty day waiting period allows you and your spouse to “cool off” and make a decision without having emotions control that decision making process.
The more disagreeable you (and your spouse) are, the longer your case will take
There is no question that the leading cause of divorce cases taking longer to complete than they ought to is disagreeable parties. If you and your spouse are going to disagree on every issue under the sun then you are in for a very long divorce. This will not only eat up time but also money. For all the concerns that you have about your post-divorce life from an income perspective you should pay attention to the money you are paying to your attorney in fees. What if instead of paying your attorney to argue with your spouse’s attorney about the silverware set or which of you gets to see your dog more often you decided to be reasonable, settle and then move on to the next part of your life?
The bottom line is that in your divorce it is unrealistic to expect that you will be able to get everything that you want. Divorce is not bludgeoning your spouse and vice versa with your words, attorneys or evidence. Certainly, evidence is handy in a divorce to reinforce your case. Your attorney will play a major role in determining the outcome of your case as well. However, movies and television have led us to believe that your divorce is going to come down to a courtroom trial where all of your dirty laundries will be aired and drama fills the courtroom. After reading our blog for the past week do you still think this is reality?
The truth of the matter is that you will likely settle your case in mediation. This means that negotiation is the name of the game. Be prepared to give up some things that you want and to gain some things you didn’t think you would be able to “win.” That is the true nature of divorce- if you walk away feeling like you did ok but could have done better I would tell you that your spouse likely feels the same. Make that your ex-spouse, because at this stage your divorce is finally complete.
Questions about divorce or any other issue in Texas family law? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have read today’s blog and have questions about its contents please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys are available six days a week to discuss your case and go over any questions that you may have. Consultations are free of charge and can help you a great deal to plan for any circumstances that you and your family are facing.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
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- 6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas
- SUCH AN EASY DIVORCE? THAT HUSBAND MAY LOSE HIS HOUSE!
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Kingwood Divorce Lawyer
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 ar Kingwood, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A divorce lawyer in Kingwood TX is 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 Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, 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.