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6 Steps to a Non-Hostile Divorce

When do you imagine what your divorce will be like? What do you think about it? Do you picture yourself going toe to toe with your spouse in a courtroom? Are you all arguing about every slight and misdeed that the other committed during your marriage? Is the judge banging his gavel furiously on the bench in front of him? What about your kids? Do you imagine that they're holding up, ok? These are serious questions to ask yourself. Some people who ask themselves these questions will delay their divorce indefinitely to avoid answering them.

You don't need to fall into that category, however. There is nothing wrong with asking yourself questions about the divorce. It's normal to have worries and concerns about something as important as divorce. When you consider that you have never been through a divorce before, we have a situation where anxiety levels are sky-high for many people as they go into a divorce case. Worries about yourself and your children can only make the circumstances appear even direr. What can be done to limit those worries and focus on doing what is best for you and your children?

What do you think a divorce is?

This is sort of a broad question to be asking ourselves but stick with me for a moment as we unpack what a divorce is, what a divorce isn't, and what a divorce could be. For most of you reading today's blog post, a divorce will not be a world-war-type event. Even if you think your spouse is the most hardheaded person on earth. Or even if you believe that YOU are the most hardheaded person on earth. Divorce does not need to be a full-contact sport. Let that sink in for a moment. What you think your divorce will end up being probably will not be how your divorce turns out.

What you think your divorce will look like is probably based not so much on your perceptions of divorce but on what you have observed from other people. First, we live in an era where divorce is sadly familiar. Divorce rates have decreased in recent years, mainly due to people not getting married at speeds as high as they once were. The reduction in divorces has more to do with people not getting married than marriages getting stronger. If you believe that your marriage is failing, there is probably a good reason.

A divorce involves dissolving your marriage. Simple as that. A divorce takes two people who are married and ends that marriage. After the divorce is over, you will be a single, adult human being. This much you can count on. The rest? That ultimately depends on you and your family's circumstances. The reality is that a divorce is an incredibly fact-specific endeavor. What divorce looks like to you could be a completely different experience than what a divorce looks like to your neighbor. Therefore, you cannot base your divorce expectations on what you hear from other people or see on the television. The difference between your experiences will likely be significant.

The exact reason why Your divorce will be either problematic or straightforward depends upon several factors. The most important two factors are You and your Spouse. Every other aspect does not come close in terms of determining the course your divorce will take. The attitude that you and your spouse have regarding how you want your divorce to proceed is undeniable. It would make a lot of sense, as a result, for the two of you to think long and hard about how you want your divorce to go. The truth is you two will play a more significant role in that process than anyone or anything else.

Talk to your spouse

This may seem like something that is downright impossible at this time. Many of you are getting a divorce because you and your spouse cannot communicate with one another. The idea of speaking to your spouse about complex subject matter may seem downright impossible to you. However, the point is that this is your best ticket to divorce, if not hostile. In my experience working with people who are getting divorced, it is incredible the degree to which people will make assumptions and misunderstand the motives of their spouses. All the misunderstandings and beliefs in the world are not powerful enough to overcome having open communication with your spouse.

Nobody said that this would be something easy to accomplish. Being willing to discuss the complex subject matter with your spouse may be what turns your divorce into a tolerable experience rather than something incredibly difficult for all parties involved. Ultimately, many people make their divorce worse than it is because of a lack of fortitude when it comes to discussing the subject matter with their spouse. It would be easier on some level to never talk to your spouse again after you file for divorce. However, bear in mind that if you are raising a child with your spouse, it will never be beneficial to avoid these types of conversations altogether. As a result, you are always better off taking the High Road and being willing to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case with your spouse.

It would help if you were willing to talk to your spouse during the divorce for no other reason than benefit your children. If you have children under 18 with your spouse, then the divorce is not the end of your relationship with them, period; instead, you all will be engaged in raising a child under less-than-ideal circumstances from this point forward. As a result, you should prepare yourself for this experience by discussing the subject matter with one another the divorce is going on. You may find that you have more in common than you thought and may be able to put to bed a lot of assumptions or misinterpretations that you had about the other person. If you cannot do this for yourself, you should do it for your children. In a tumultuous time for your kids seeing their parents set aside their differences can be just what they need.

Be intentional about goal setting.

If you are going to go through all the trouble of getting a divorce, you ought to at least consider what goals you have for the case. Simply filing a divorce with no thoughts or concerns beyond getting the claim filed is a mistake. Instead, I would recommend that you start to think early in often about what you need to accomplish in the case. This will help you keep your eyes on the prize and avoid getting sidetracked during the divorce.

The best way to consider goal setting for divorce is in the context of the two types of subject matter you will encounter in your divorce. The two main areas of a divorce case are Community property division and child custody. Your goal-setting sessions can start with simply considering the areas of a case broadly and then focusing on specific areas after that. Asking yourself questions about how you see your life playing out after the divorce, what your post-divorce financial goals are, and what is in the best interest of your children will allow you to pinpoint the areas of most concern for you.

Another great way to begin to set goals for your divorce case is to work with an experienced family law attorney. It is not as if having an attorney will solve all of your problems. However, having an attorney will help you consider a wider variety of issues and factors that play into a divorce. What you are supposed to be an unachievable goal may be more reasonable than you would have thought. On the other hand, there is nothing worse than coming into a divorce with a set of goals that are near impossible to accomplish. It is better to understand what is happening in your case from the beginning than to make assumptions that ultimately turn out to be untrue. Having an attorney by your side can help you to maximize your time and efficiently plan events in your case.

Determine what matters and what does not matter

Like every divorce is different from another divorce, your goals will be different from those of your spouse and other people who are going through a divorce case. For that reason, you need to focus your energy on working to accomplish the goals that are most important to you. However, you can only determine what goals are essential after you have selected them in the first place. The reality of a divorce case is that you will very likely be unable to accomplish every goal you have set out for yourself. So, it pays for you to consider what matters the most to you in this case and to focus on that.

If you are thinking about your children in the divorce, then you may be most concerned about being able to make medical and healthcare-related decisions for your children. This is especially true if you have a child with a chronic illness or mental health issues. In that case, the ability to make final decisions in this regard for your child could be essential to you. Most notably, if you have been the parent who has been the primary decision-maker to this point, it would make sense for you to maintain that role after the divorce. Focusing your energies on building a case to this point will be very important for you and your child.

When considering issues regarding Community property, you may be most concerned with ensuring that you have money for retirement. If you are getting divorced at an older age, your long-term future may be the most important thing to you. Therefore, being able to focus on retaining as much of your retirement as possible or negotiating as aggressively as you can for a portion of your spouse's retirement benefits would seem to make the most sensitive period to do so, you could offer up the family home or money in your checking or savings accounts to accomplish this goal. Negotiating on Community property means sliding the poker chips around the table until you get to a point where both sides are comfortable wherever the chips may end up.

Think objectively about what is in the best interests of your children

When it comes to issues related to your kids in a divorce, the goal of a parent should be to focus on what is in their best interest. Frequently this means doing something you do not particularly like but that you understand will benefit your children now and in the future. This is what it means to make the best interest determination on behalf of your kids. It can be challenging to separate what you want to do and what is in the kids' best interest. As a result, it takes some effort to get to the point where you can decide like this for you and them.

I recommend that clients take some time to think about their kids and where they are in their lives. What are they having success with? Where are they struggling? You may need to take some time away from the hustle and bustle of your life to sit down and think about these types of things objectively in a quiet spot. Only then can you gain some perspective on what benefits your kids the most. It may not be what you thought at the beginning of a case or during your marriage.

Considering your children's opinion isn't the most crucial thing in determining their best interests, but it can matter. This is especially true for older children whose opinions do you trust and who are perhaps mature beyond their years. In a situation like that, it could make a great deal of sense to talk to your children and be honest about the issues you must determine within the divorce. Getting their perspective on specific issues could matter greatly to them and you. It may allow you to understand certain things that you would not have otherwise had.

Take advantage of mediation.

The last thing I wanted to discuss in today's blog post is that mediation exists for a reason. You should be willing to negotiate as well as possible, as much as possible with your spouse. It is not enough to be ready to deal with your spouse. Instead, when the time comes, you must actively negotiate with them, period; this means preparing to negotiate with your attorney before mediation and then actually doing it when you get to mediation.

Mediation is a process whereby you and your spouse agree to name a third-party family attorney to oversee a one-day settlement negotiation. Any issues that have not been settled before mediation will be discussed in that session. The two of you can negotiate your way through all of the problems in your divorce in a single morning or afternoon. Whatever issues are settled upon will be included in a mediated settlement agreement. This agreement will become the basis for the final decree of divorce in your case.

Many people get to mediation and feel like they cannot trust their spouse. In those cases, these folks will assume that mediation will do them no good and that no interest can come out of the process. If this is your position as you head into the divorce, I can tell you that it will almost be a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, if you go into mediation with an optimistic outlook and a plan to accomplish your goals, then you are much more likely to arrive at a settlement that suits you and your children.

On top of that, mediation allows you and your spouse to have the final say in matters related to your divorce. In a trial, you will have the ability to submit evidence to a judge, but ultimately the judge has the final say. It is much preferable to have the final say in mediation even when it comes to negotiating with a spouse that you were going through a divorce with the period when it comes to matters related to your family nobody knows you all the better than you and your spouse. A family court judge will only gain a little understanding of your life even after a multiple-day trial period.

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.


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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring 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 essential to speak with ar Spring, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.

A divorce lawyer in Spring, TX, is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the 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.

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