No two divorce cases are exactly alike. With that said, there are similar paths that many divorces go down that make it possible for us to provide advice for folks like you who are contemplating a divorce either now or in the future. To be sure, providing honest and clear information about a divorce case is exactly what an attorney does for a living. Somewhere between providing basic advice and getting that person to the end of a case is the sweet spot of a divorce: providing facts specific advice on how to proceed and what to avoid.
For a blog post here on the website for the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, I cannot provide you with specific advice regarding your divorce. Reason being that I don't know anything specific about you, your spouse, your children, or your circumstances. The best I can do is provide you with information that I think will pertain relatively well to the issues that you are facing in your life. From there, I invite you to seek out a free-of-charge consultation with one of our attorneys. The attorneys with Bryan Fagan Law Office offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video.
To learn the most about divorce, it is critical for you 2 receive specifically tailored advice and perspective about your divorce case. Please do not take the information provided in this blog or in any similar resource as the only pieces of information you will need before beginning your divorce. You need to receive perspective and information on your divorce case to know exactly how to think about your circumstances and how to best prepare for your case. Well, I hope that much of the information in today's blog post will be helpful for you and your family. I cannot promise you that every bit will be relevant to your life.
As a result, discussing the steps, you need to take in a Texas divorce by going through the first consideration that I think he needs to make once you have determined that a divorce is in your future. The first step would be seeking out a consultation with an experienced family law attorney and ask them questions.
Step #1: seek out the advice of an experienced family law attorney
Without a doubt, a divorce is not a circumstance that you want to go into blindly. You may have spoken with relatives, friends, coworkers, or other people who have told you that the divorce isn't a big deal these days and that you can get your divorce without a problem. While the rates of divorce have been climbing in recent years, the reality is that a divorce is still a serious matter that will impact your financial, emotional, relational, and mental states of mind. It would be best not to consider divorce to be another administrative matter or something mundane and run of the mill.
Rather, a divorce is a legal matter that requires your respect and attention. Even if you do not end up hiring an attorney to proceed with your divorce is well worth your effort to seek a consultation with an attorney before making that decision. It can be a big mistake 2 make a decision, but you do not need a family law attorney without actually having spoken to an attorney first period; you may find that after having spoken with the attorney, your mind has been changed regarding whether or not you need to hire a lawyer. It is better to come to this realization before your divorce is even filed rather than in the middle of a case once you realize that you need help.
The rule of thumb on how I try to guide people in this state is to sync out consultations with at least three attorneys before making up your mind. One good thing about living in the Houston area is that you will not struggle to find a family law attorney. There are many options available to you, and you should try to schedule consultations where an attorney as soon as you believe that a divorce is on the horizon. Our office, for example, offers free of charge complications that can be done over the computer or even over the phone. However, I'm the type of person who likes to get a feel for the person you were meeting with, so now is a great time to begin the process of meeting with attorneys in first thing as we ease ourselves into post-pandemic life.
When it comes to the actual meeting with the attorney, your instinct may be to spend most of the consultation telling the attorney about the facts of your life and your views on them. I often feel like potential clients will use consultation as a sort of therapy session and unload on the attorney all their concerns and thoughts regarding the upcoming divorce. Well, I cannot blame you for feeling this way. I think there is a better use of your time and the attorneys.
I would recommend using the consultation as an opportunity to briefly recite the facts of your case to be an attorney but then to use a majority of the meeting as a time for you to ask questions about the divorce you want to pay. The fact is that many people I meet within these complications have a basic understanding of divorce. However, their reviews may be skewed by the adviser perspective by non-attorneys in their lives. While I would never tell you not to consider the opinions of friends and family, the reality is that their experience in divorce me nothing much different than your own. As a result, you should seek out unbiased inexperienced advice whenever possible.
Since you don't have the opportunity every day to meet with an attorney to talk about your divorce, you should take advantage of the opportunities you have when they present themselves. Once you ask your lawyer questions, you should allow him to weigh in on your circumstances. From there, you can develop a sense of how the attorney answers questions and whether or not you feel comfortable with perspective inexperience. An attorney may be the right person to represent your neighbor but may not be the right person to represent you. The only way you'll learn who you're comfortable with representing you is by asking questions and by listening to the attorney's responses.
Once you have met with at least three family law attorneys, I recommend deciding whether to hire a lawyer and then moving forward with the decision as quickly as possible. Again, I am assuming that you have considered whether or not a divorce is in your future and decided to get divorced. Once you have done this and you're comfortable no sense in waiting. You should contact the attorney's office, work to sign the contract, and pay the initial fees. That way, you will have your attorney ready to go and can begin filing paperwork.
Step #2: negotiate, negotiate, negotiate
One of the most significant misnomers that most people have regarding divorces is that a family court judge typically makes the ultimate decisions in a case. It is completely understandable why people feel this way, in my opinion. Television, movies, and the media in general form super rounded worse that they are always contentious almost always wind up in a courthouse. While this may be a good starting point for a TV drama, the reality is that most divorces conclude before going to court.
Settlement negotiations are crucial in a divorce. Whether you end up settling your case out, of course or not, the divorce process in Texas lends itself to a great deal of negotiation during downtime in your case. Again, you may be operating under the assumption that going to court is the norm in a divorce. While there are opportunities to attend court dates in your divorce, the reality is that most of the days of your divorce are spent outside the courtroom. Those days can be spent effectively if you seek to maximize the opportunities to settle on outstanding issues in your case.
One of the things I would ask the attorney you are interviewing is their perspective on settlements and negotiations during a divorce. In my opinion, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan perform a delicate balancing act of being aggressive in negotiation, preparing for going to trial or hearing quite cognizant that oftentimes the best arrangement is 1 in which the parties themselves determine the outcome of the case rather than a judge. With that said, you need to be confident that your attorney is experienced enough to handle a courtroom environment and wise enough to negotiate through the issues of your case when possible.
Depending on your relationship with your spouse, many of the negotiations with them can be conducted directly between the two of you. After all, nobody knows the circumstances of your case or your life better than you and your spouse. You may have differing views on certain aspects of the case, but overall, you should find that you agree on perhaps more than you think. With that said, you can utilize the opportunities presented to you to solve problems that can be rather complex.
Another positive aspect of negotiating directly with your spouse is that you can save time and money. From experience, I know that it is easier for two spouses to get ahold of one another than an attorney getting ahold of an opposing lawyer. Well, sometimes it may be necessary for the attorneys to hammer out fine details you and you're in a spouse are more than capable of reaching a consensus on broad topics. Then you can allow the attorneys to work out details and allow you in your spouse to refine your arguments and positions that way.
Either way, it is much more advantageous for you in your spouse to use at the time of your divorce to accomplish things in mediation and negotiation rather than to use the time 2 get upset with the other and lose track of time overall. There will be plenty of time to litigate your divorce and attend contested hearings if necessary. When I take all the time you can to settle outstanding issues between you and your spouse without having to resort to a courtroom?
Step #3: prepare for mediation
Without a doubt, attending mediation, either for final orders or temporary orders, will be the most important part of your divorce case. Ultimately, you are preparing in a divorce to negotiate for either 1/2 day or full day in mediation. Many family court judges will not even allow you to have a trial held in their courtroom before you have attempted to mediate at least one time. The reason for that is that mediation is incredibly effective in terms of helping couples conclude their divorce. I would estimate that upwards of 90% of divorce is settled before going to a trial.
That estimate I provided you with should provide you with some hope and optimism, but I should also tell you just how critical your case mediation is. The difference between an OK outcome in your divorce and a fantastic outcome in your divorce can oftentimes be seen in mediation results. I cannot emphasize just how much hi I have hurt you in your lawyer's need to prepare for mediation. Sometimes all of the other events of your divorce in combination do not add up to the overall significance in the importance of mediation.
Like I did in the section of today's blog post before this one, I would recommend that you talk to an attorney you are interviewing to obtain their input regarding mediation. Ask the attorney what their perspective on mediation is and how they typically prepare with their client. If the attorney seems nonchalant about mediation or does not appear interested in answering your question, that would cause me to raise an eyebrow. In my opinion, every experienced attorney understands the importance of mediation and should not scoff at a question related to it.
For instance, you and your attorney should be working well before mediation for final orders on compiling a final inventory and appraisement of your marital and separate property Estates. This way, you and your spouse will have an opportunity to view the information in real-time and better make decisions regarding how to divide any Community property. In addition, you should be able to determine what items belong in each of your separate Estates so that this isn't a subject that causes you to have to go to trial.
Sometimes the most contentious issue in a divorce is regarding custody and e conservatorship rights of your children. You and your attorney should have multiple plans in place on how to negotiate on conservatorships issues if this is still an outstanding issue in your case. Your lawyer can work with their opposing counsel before mediation to determine what you all anticipate the main issues are in mediation. Therefore, you and your lawyer can better prepare for them before attending the big day.
Additionally, temporary orders mediation offers an opportunity to establish a tone for the rest of your divorce regarding how negotiations will work and what kind of expectations each party can have as you head into final orders mediation. The reality of a divorce is that final orders tend to look very similar to temporary orders. You and your lawyer should take a great deal of time to walk through potential scenarios involved in your case during the temporary order stage. If temporary orders work out well, then you can largely mimic them in final orders mediation.
Closing thoughts on the steps of a divorce
Planning a divorce and being intentional is critical to achieving success in a case. As I am fond of telling people, it is possible to wander into a divorce, but it is impossible to wander out of a divorce and still experience success. Rather, you have to have a game plan and be intentional in how you execute that plan. Sure, changes will arise in the divorce that will likely require you to re-calibrate your approach. However, having a plan in being intentional about achieving goals is critical. In my opinion, that discussion begins and ends with the attorney you choose to represent you.
If you have any questions about the material discussed 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 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. I appreciate your interest in our law office, and we hope you will join us tomorrow as we continue to share relevant and helpful information about Texas family law.