Why Should I Hire a Divorce Attorney?

When it comes to a divorce situation, a few considerations are more important than deciding whether or not you want to hire a divorce attorney to represent you and your interests. No two divorces are created equal. No two divorces will offer the same fact patterns and circumstances. You and your spouse are unique. If you are fortunate enough to have kids, I鈥檓 sure you would agree that they, too, are uncommon. So, your decision to hire a divorce attorney would be based on factors not shared by any other person going through a divorce. Why should you strongly consider hiring a divorce attorney?

Hiring a Lawyer May Not Always Be Necessary

A divorce attorney might surprise you by suggesting that hiring a lawyer may not be necessary. If your case involves limited issues, having an attorney for you, your spouse, or both could hinder rather than help. You and your spouse may be on good terms where it is entirely possible to talk through your issues, do the work yourself to draft and file the documents and have a judge declare you and your spouse as no longer legally married. That outcome is not beyond belief.

However, for the vast majority of our neighbors in southeast Texas (including you, possibly), it is a good idea to hire a divorce attorney before wading into the deep waters of legally ending your marriage. If the issues in your divorce are not complex, then the odds are good that they are at least too numerous for you to be able to devote enough time to all of them; consider the responsibilities you have at home to your kids or at work to your occupation.

Likewise, you may not have a handful of issues at play in your divorce, but if you have a few complicated, complex, or potentially valuable, you will need an attorney to help guide you. Hiring an attorney is a short-term investment in a process that can have long-term ramifications for you and your family. You are not ceding ownership of your case by hiring an attorney鈥攓uite the opposite. Reasonable, experienced family law attorneys (like those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan) can guide you through a case and help you to avoid potential pitfalls that could damage your case and your life moving forward.

With all that said, I would like to share some information on why you should consider hiring a divorce attorney before beginning your Texas divorce. I hope that these reasons convince you of the importance of having an attorney if not convincing you to go out and hire a lawyer outright.

Putting some distance between you and you and your spouse is not a bad idea.

In all of the divorce cases that I have been fortunate enough to represent one of the spouses in, very few of them have involved two people who are on perfect speaking terms. In most divorce cases, the two spouses feel upset with each other for various reasons. The fact that a divorce calls on two people to work together and negotiate an end to their marriage is not ideal for two people who can鈥檛 bear the sight of one another.

The Value of Having a Divorce Attorney

That is where having a divorce attorney comes in handy. If you and your spouse are not precisely working well together as a team right now, each of you having a representative to communicate information and settlement offers is not a bad idea at all. The setting in which the benefit of having someone to fulfill this obligation is no more apparent to me than in a mediation setting.

Mediation is a process by which the two spouses in a divorce agree to have a third party intervene and attempt to help them settle on terms for their divorce. Mediation is the likeliest place for a divorce to end mercifully, from children to child support to the property to anything in between. Most of the time, mediation occurs in an attorney鈥檚 office where one party (and their lawyer) are in one office, and the other party (and their attorney) are across the hallway in another room. The two sides only interact with the assistance of a mediator.

The Impact of Nonverbal Cues on Settlement Negotiations

However, I have participated in mediations where the two sides are placed face to face across the table from each other. Besides being awkward, all it takes in these situations is to have one spouse roll their eyes at the other to ruin all chances of settlement negotiations. The eye roll or other subtle gestures can show a level of disrespect or annoyance that destroys the possibility of ever working together to hash out a settlement.

Having an attorney ensures that you and your spouse avoid situations where your history and animosity toward each other obstruct achieving a fair and timely divorce resolution. Attorneys remove much of the emotion and abuse from the divorce. While your attorney will advocate for you and represent you and your rights, the attorney does not have feelings towards your opposing party. That鈥檚 a good thing. This objectivity is what allows your attorney to guide you better through the divorce. Removing the emotional component to negotiations is the first reason why you should consider hiring a divorce attorney.

Getting a divorce means having to know the consequences of your actions.

Think about your current job. More specifically, think about your first day working at that job. How did you do performing the essential tasks of that position? I鈥檓 willing to bet that your performance on day one is nowhere near as good as your performance on day 30. And on and on it goes. With experience comes better success at just about any endeavor we wish to engage in.

Divorce is no different. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you want to approach it), you have likely never been through a divorce before. You may have a clue of what to expect, but you have no firsthand knowledge. You may have some understanding of the law but have no specific knowledge of how the law impacts you and your situation. The bottom line is that what you don鈥檛 know, you don鈥檛 know. Ignorance of the law and the divorce process is the wrong place to start your divorce.

Empowering Your Divorce Case

However, by hiring a divorce attorney, you can remove these restrictions and handicaps from your case. Your divorce attorney should be someone who has been through the divorce process before and can guide you through the process. There are two parts to this: knowledge of the law and understanding of the divorce process in Texas family courts.

Let鈥檚 talk about knowledge of the law first. If you enter into a divorce without a thorough understanding of family law, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. The law exists to help guide outcomes and modify behavior within the family courts. The judge in your case has the ultimate authority to hand down decisions that conform with the law. The judge in your case also has maximum power to hand down punishments if you or your spouse violate a family law or an order of their court.

Going into a divorce without the experience to anticipate how the law will impact you and your case can cost you a great deal of money, time with your children, and the ability to influence your child鈥檚 life as closely as you would have wanted. Good-naturedly throwing up your hands and saying that you didn鈥檛 know something may cause your conscience to feel better, but it is no defense in a legal sense. You certainly need to have at least a working knowledge of the Texas Family Code before beginning a divorce. The lack of such knowledge will likely cause an outcome that is far from ideal for you.

The other thing to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to hire an attorney is that the law is essential in divorce and knowing the process involved in a divorce case. You can have an outstanding knowledge of the Texas Family Code, but it is of little value to you if you can鈥檛 translate that knowledge into its practical applications. There is no more practical application of the law to divorce than knowing how to file and handle a divorce case.

Understanding the Nuances of Divorce Representation

The tricky part to explain to clients is that there is no specific course a future lawyer takes in law school to learn how to handle the court-related aspects. That practical experience comes from handling numerous divorces over time. If you鈥檝e never experienced divorce, been involved in court proceedings, or lacked legal system experience, you鈥檇 naturally possess little understanding of handling a divorce case.

Having the experience of a divorce attorney is crucial for tasks such as filing documents, serving your spouse with notice of the lawsuit, ensuring swift mediation, and ultimately scheduling hearing and trial dates. If you have no experience with these things, you may waste a great deal of time. Divorces that go on for eight or nine months sometimes have no significant differences from a divorce lasting only three or four. Often, the only significant difference between the two is that one case had experienced divorce lawyers assisting the parties while the other did not.

Drafting the final paperwork to divorce is one area where a divorce attorney can come in handy.

The entire purpose of a divorce is to obtain orders from a judge that will clearly and effectively layout your and your spouse鈥檚 legal responsibilities to one another, and your children will be moving forward. Think of these as your 鈥渕arching orders.鈥 It can be an excellent thing for your peace of mind to have a judge鈥檚 authority behind the things you can and cannot do with your property, your ex-spouse, and your children. Rather than relying on a trust between you and your spouse, the court orders carry with them some degree of consequence if a particular directive is violated or not followed.

However, suppose you and your spouse cannot draft a final decree of divorce that effectively conveys the terms of your settlement. In that case, you may wind up in a situation where you have unenforceable orders that negate all that you sought to accomplish in the divorce. There is a science to how final orders are drafted, which you will not duplicate no matter how hard you study information on the internet. A divorce attorney knows how to word certain aspects of a divorce decree to communicate ideas well and protect you moving forward.

Before you consider filing a divorce without an attorney, you should look to the end of your case. While you may be able to handle the initial stages of a divorce without an attorney, very few people are equipped to draft a complex and lengthy legal document like a Final Decree of Divorce without the assistance of a divorce attorney.

Questions about hiring a divorce attorney? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the information discussed in today鈥檚 blog post, please consider contacting the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week to answer your questions and directly address any issues facing you and your family.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce in Texas

Do I need a divorce lawyer if we agree on everything in Texas?

If you and your spouse agree on all aspects of your divorce, you may opt for an uncontested divorce in Texas, which can be more straightforward. However, it鈥檚 still advisable to consult with a divorce lawyer to ensure your legal rights and interests are protected.

What is the average retainer fee for a divorce lawyer in Texas?

Retainer fees for divorce lawyers in Texas can vary widely depending on factors like location and complexity of the case. On average, retainer fees may range from $2,500 to $5,000 or more. Consult with attorneys in your area for specific pricing.

What are the advantages of filing for divorce first in Texas?

Filing for divorce first, also known as the 鈥減etitioner,鈥 allows you to set the initial terms of the divorce. It can provide a strategic advantage in negotiations and may help you choose the jurisdiction for your case.

Can people get divorced without hiring an attorney in Texas?

Yes, you can represent yourself in a divorce proceeding in Texas, known as a 鈥減ro se鈥 divorce. However, it鈥檚 essential to understand that divorce laws can be complex. Consulting with an attorney, at least for guidance, is often recommended.

Do you pay your wife鈥檚 divorce lawyer in Texas?

Typically, you are not directly responsible for paying your spouse鈥檚 attorney fees in Texas. However, the court may order one spouse to contribute to the other鈥檚 legal fees, depending on the circumstances and financial disparities.

Who pays legal fees in a Texas divorce?

The payment of legal fees in a Texas divorce can vary. It may be negotiated between the spouses, ordered by the court, or each party may be responsible for their own attorney fees. It depends on the specific details of the case.

Does my husband have to pay the bills until we are divorced in Texas?

The responsibility for paying bills during a divorce in Texas can vary based on factors like financial resources and court orders. It鈥檚 advisable to discuss these matters with your attorney and, if necessary, seek temporary court orders to clarify financial obligations.

How much does the average divorce cost in Texas?

The cost of divorce in Texas can vary widely based on factors like legal fees, court fees, and the complexity of the case. On average, it may range from a few thousand dollars for uncontested divorces to tens of thousands for contested and complex cases.

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