How To Set Goals For Your Divorce [… And Why You Need To!]

When working with new clients, one of my initial steps is to sit down and discuss their divorce goals. Whether it’s a child custody or divorce case, I aim to comprehend their perspectives and objectives. Over my years of practice, I’ve realized that people’s goals can significantly differ, particularly in a diverse region like Southeast Texas. It’s crucial for your attorney to recognize that your goals may not align with those of previous clients they’ve encountered.

In most cases, even well-intentioned individuals can unknowingly enter a divorce without fully understanding how extensively the divorce proceedings will impact their lives in various ways. You can wander into a divorce. However, it is difficult for you to wander out of a divorce with the ability to achieve anything resembling a favorable outcome for you and your family. The reason for that is you need to have goals in place to act intentionally to achieve those goals.

The importance of intentional goal setting in divorce

To begin with, having a goal is not enough. It would help if you acted intentionally to achieve those goals. A big part of being intentional has a plan. Ergo, it would help if you had a plan in place to achieve your goals. This sounds simple. You probably figured that there had to be a method to your divorce strategies. Developing a plan of attack for your divorce means being strategic and intentional about how you act in a divorce. This is truly the difference between people who have good divorce results and poor divorce results.

When it comes to accomplishing goals in less than ideal circumstances, I think one of the most important ways for you to be able to push yourself to accomplish goals and do unpleasant things is to have a big enough “why.” having a big enough why is probably the most important thing when it comes to goal setting and more importantly goal achieving. You’re why it is going to act as your motivation to accomplish great things for yourself and your family and your divorce; if you do not have a good way, then you are more than likely going to bounce around in your divorce from subject to subject without focusing on the goals that are most important to you and your family.

Understanding motivation and setting goals in divorce

This discussion identifies why you have started a divorce, why you think having goals is important, and understand why you want to accomplish those goals. If the goals for your case are set by someone who isn’t you, then you are in for a tough experience. After all, divorce is tough on its own. However, if you are not working to achieve the goals that you set for your case, then you are in for a tough and especially tough experience. Rather, you need to look at yourself and determine what goals you can set for a case and what it is that you identify as being most important about achieving those goals.

Are you seeking freedom from the fear of your spouse’s potential violence? Do you desire a chance to re-enter the dating scene and discover a more compatible partner? Are you aiming to provide a brighter future for your children? Has your spouse wronged you in some way that you want to address through the divorce process? Your motivation in your reason for the divorce may be completely different than anyone else let you know. That’s OK. You need to identify why you are in your divorce and what it will drive you to accomplish your goals. Without having this discussion, I don’t know that any strategy or any plan will be good enough to help you accomplish what you need to in your particular divorce case.

Setting goals and maintaining focus in divorce

Whatever your particular motivation is for your divorce, you need to identify what it is early on in your case and then keep that motivation in mind as you begin to hit road bumps and other blockages that will inevitably arise. No one ever has a completely smooth or obstruction-free divorce. On the whole, the divorce can be straightforward and kept simple when we can keep in mind the most important thing in the case and then act on that despite any encumbrances that occur from time to time.

Invariably, at some point in your divorce, your spouse will attempt to do something you disagree with, your children will become annoyed with you, or your attorney will not return a phone call as quickly as you would like. The only thing keeping you from becoming extraordinarily upset or angry at yourself or others during a stage like this in your case will be maintaining your focus on what is most important to you. Unless you have a substantial idea of what your goals are and why it is that you are going through the difficult parts of a case, then you will become lost or, at the very least, frustrated beyond belief.

Goals are measurable

The more specific a goal is, the Morse successful you will be in trying to achieve the goal. The simplest example I can give to you regarding divorce is that simply wanting your divorce to be over with quickly is not the best goal. Everyone wants a quick divorce, and people typically equate quick divorce is too easy to divorce. However, the big difference for those that achieve a relatively quick divorce versus those who merely want a quick divorce is substantial. I recommend putting a number to your goal and then aiming to meet that number.

If we take my example of the morning a short divorce, I recommend that you put a specific number to your goal. For instance, if you would like your divorce to be done in under six months, you can work with your attorney to cut that to happen. Goals in a divorce, especially those associated with time, do not simply happen out of the blue. Rather, you have to work diligently on achieving those goals despite challenges or roadblocks that get in your way. Trust me when I tell you that there will be circumstances in a divorce that can slow your case down through no fault of your own.

Avoiding divorce lengthening behavior and setting measurable goals

On the other hand, there are times that you can engage in behavior that unknowingly lengthens your divorce case. For example, going back and forth with your spouse regarding issues that will have no bearing on your case ultimately coming to a close is the type of thing you should work to avoid. For example, getting bogged down in debating who should keep particular household items are pieces of personal property are some of the more frustrating parts of a divorce. Typically, these types of disagreements are ones that you face towards the end of a divorce right as you are approaching the stage where you otherwise could be negotiating the final steps and exit strategies from your case. Getting bogged down in superficial arguments is a certain way to lengthen your divorce and prevent you from achieving any goal associated with time.

You may also choose to have measurable goals when it comes to finances. For example, if you want to retain 60% of your community estate after the divorce, then you are in a better position than someone who merely wants to keep as much of their Community property as possible. A 60% number allows you to focus on calculating the total amount of community assets in play and figuring out how to negotiate and strategize around that number. This may involve you making concessions in other areas to achieve your goal. However, a 60% figure is a disproportionate share of your community estate. This means that you are more likely to need to assert fault grounds in your divorce rather than merely allege irreconcilable differences.

Establishing concrete goals early in your divorce

This is the step you must take towards the beginning of your divorce, or at least do what time to spare before a trial. Amending pleadings cannot occur within a few weeks of your trial date, so these are decisions that must be made at the beginning of a case. There are ways to achieve goals regarding financial issues that you may not have considered previously. Sometimes even bringing in outside help to help you plan your financial future during a divorce can help you avoid negotiating endlessly on subjects that are not likely to help you achieve your goals.

Next, you should consider the ability to put concrete and measurable goals in place for your child custody circumstances. For example, if you are a father and want to have split custody of your children with your spouse, you need to figure out what that means. But custody might mean different things to different people. If you are focused on sharing time in equal value with your spouse, then simply telling your attorney of this can be enough to help inform them of how to negotiate when it comes to custody.

I have encountered many mothers who will assume that their spouse will give in to what they want to do with custody to favor a more equitable split of the community estate. Different cases justify different results in different goals. However, what this means for you and your family is that the more concrete your goals are, the more you can create circumstances in which those goals can be achieved. Simply laying out general goals leave you susceptible to becoming distracted by any number of issues that can arise during a divorce.

Put your goals down and writing

Writing down your goals can make them more achievable in daily life. A goal not written down is just a thought. While it’s fine to have thoughts and feelings about your divorce, having concrete, measurable goals in writing is preferable. Putting goals in writing helps hold you accountable and prevents backsliding on what’s important in your case.

I like it when my client and I can share an email of goals at the beginning of a case. We can put that email inside the client’s file to help the attorney, office staff, and client understand those goals. This helps keep us on track and can help us get an updated view of accomplishing certain goals. If too much focus is being placed on one subject during a particular stretch of a case, those measurable and written goals can do a good job of putting us back on track. Otherwise, you may spend too much of your focus on certain areas while neglecting others.

Putting goals down and riding encourages you to constantly update and tinker with those goals based on the changing circumstances of your case. I’ve observed that parties often discard a general goal if it’s not documented at the beginning of the case, opting instead for entirely different objectives as the case progresses. Just because circumstances change does not mean that you have to abandon what would have been a worthwhile and worthy goal. Writing down a goal allows you to focus on what you are trying to achieve and then put you in a position to alter those goals if need be based on changing circumstances.

Completing your divorce: drafting a final decree of divorce

The closing stage of every divorce is the drafting of final orders. In a Texas divorce, final orders constitute the pay final decree of divorce. This document delineates all the court orders either agreed upon with your spouse in mediation or issued by a judge in a trial. The attorneys will go back and forth on drafting language in a final decree that reflects the nature of your settlement or the orders from a judge in the trial. You need to finalize whatever goals you believe you achieved in the divorce through the wording in a final decree of divorce.

This puts a lot of pressure on you and your attorney to make sure that the orders outlined in your final decree accurately reflect the nature of your settlement or trial. Ensuring the accomplishment of your goals in mediation requires more than just participation. It necessitates thorough review and verification within the finalized documents. Once your case is winding down, you cannot take your foot off the gas and must focus intensely on making sure that your final decree of divorce accurately summarizes and lists out the rights and duties of both parties both now and in the future.

Not focusing on this important issue can go a long way towards negating any of the advances you made in your life and that of your spouse during your divorce case. It is imperative for you to be able to understand and internalize this point. Your final decree of divorce will not be worth the printed paper unless it accurately contains the court’s orders. You will put yourself in an unenviable situation if you neglect to make sure that your final divorce decree contains the settlement terms or court orders as you understood them.


When embarking on legal proceedings such as divorce or child custody cases, it’s vital for attorneys to engage in thorough discussions with their clients to understand their unique divorce goals. With diverse populations like those in Southeast Texas, individual priorities can vary widely, emphasizing the need for personalized legal strategies. Attorneys must avoid making assumptions based on past client experiences and instead tailor their approach to suit the specific objectives of each individual they represent. By prioritizing clear communication and a deep understanding of client goals, attorneys can effectively advocate for their clients’ best interests throughout the legal process.

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 blogpost, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great 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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