If you have ever watched much television, you have probably stumbled across a show or series that details the lives of two people going through a divorce. For whatever reason, we are interested as a society in divorce. Whether it is a divorce involving people we know or a divorce involving completely made-up characters on television, something about the rhythm and pace of a divorce case gets our attention, along with power, a certain interest in the courtroom proceedings associated with the divorce, as well.
Courtroom dramas are just that: dramatic. We see lawyers grandstanding, and witnesses are behaving badly. We see clients scheming and attorneys bending the law to the breaking point. Interestingly enough, these circumstances match the reality of a typical courtroom experience for most civil cases. You may be surprised to learn that atypical courtroom experience is much less dramatic or interesting than most television scriptwriters would like you to believe. Anyone who has spent time in a family courtroom can tell you that life in the family courts is probably more tedious but less interesting than a television show would lead you to believe.
Probably the underlying emotion of this entire discussion is that divorces tend to be highly charged emotionally. This much is more true than much of anything else we have been discussing today. Divorces can indeed be emotional and often do involve people getting upset with one another. It is the exception rather than the norm to go through a divorce where some degree of emotion or anger is involved. When you are dealing with someone's family and finances, it is only natural to expect that these types of emotions come to the forefront.
The big question is, how will you and your spouse handle these emotions and all of the expectations that come along with a divorce case. If you allow your emotions to get the better of you, you will likely spend a great deal of time in your divorce arguing over issues that offer you little benefit overall. Trust me when I say that I've seen spouses argue over things like video game controllers and silver Ware to the point that they cannot focus on the most important issues of their case.
On the other hand, your spouse can put aside your differences even somewhat in focus on negotiating through the most important issue in your divorce; you will likely find that your case is resolved more efficiently and equitably. I am not here to tell you that easy fixes or quick resolutions are possible in every divorce. But I am here to tell you that focusing on negotiations in a divorce can and likely will be an effective way for you and your family to avoid protracted issues and delays in your case while helping to maintain a sense of peace in your home and that of your spouse.
What does it mean to negotiate in a divorce?
This is an important question that I believe there's asking. We all have an idea of what negotiations mean. We may negotiate in our daily lives over the price of a car, the cost of the service to our home, or even in our professional lives at work period; however, in each setting, what it means to negotiate changes. There are different focuses of negotiation depending upon where you are and who you are negotiating with. As a result, the advice that you would stand to benefit from any change from one circumstance to another.
To divorce. As you may have been able to tell from the opening segments of today's blog post, I believe that negotiation in settling a divorce case is much more crucial to overall success than litigation or focusing on courtroom activities. I think this discussion starts and stops with identifying the most important areas of your case and working from there in German what sort of resolutions can be reached between you and your spouse in either informal settlement negotiations or mediation.
It would be best if you started the conversation by identifying those areas of your divorce relevant to you and your spouse. For example, if you have children under the age of 18 living with you, then child custody, conservatorships, and issues such as these are likely to be more important than anything else. That's not to say that your property, retirement savings, Castle support, or a whole list of topics are not important to you. However, I'm recommending is that you begin to negotiate and think about your divorce based on those areas of the case that are most important to you.
Think long and hard about what if she's in the divorce are most important to you; you can begin to consider how you and your spouse will negotiate about these topics. It may be that there is a vast amount of middle-ground for you too to begin settlement negotiations. For example, if you believe that child support should be paid to you at $2000 a month, but your spouse believes that $1600 is more appropriate, then you have some ground to begin to negotiate.
Unfortunately, not every area in your divorce will lend itself towards negotiation as readily. An example of this would be conservatorships of your children. If you wish to be designated as the parent I responsibility for the kids, this is a significant part of a divorce. If your Co-parent has the same desire, you all need to engage in serious negotiations about this subject lest you end up in court. While most divorces do not expressively use the courtroom to determine outcomes, certain elements of your case may require the judge to weigh in inside issues for yourself.
However, through settlement negotiation, we can limit the times you have to be inside the courtroom to win his most essential. The last thing you want to see happen is to wind up in a divorce trial over issues that you believe could have been settled communication or an informal settlement of issues including I had sat in many courtrooms and watched divorce trials still on in effect myself that these folks could have settled the case long before a trial if they had the correct attitude about the process.
When do you need to begin working to settle your divorce?
The truth is that you can never start too early when it comes to the negotiation process. Although you cannot settle within the first week of your case, you can take the steps necessary to lay a foundation for open and honest communication regarding these important issues. It does not hurt to check in with your spouse or their attorney in the immediate days following the filing of divorce papers to gauge whether or not they are ready to begin discussing patients concerning temporary orders.
Temporary orders are the initial phase in a Texas divorce. In temporary orders, you anger South will be on the rules of engagement for your case. Temporary orders provide you with do and don'ts; how do you take so that you know how to approach the other person respectfully, handle bills and other financial obligations, turn to divorce, and begin to develop a co-parenting relationship with your spouse. Temporary orders are temporary, but oftentimes, the final orders of the divorce tend to look very similar to temporary orders.
For that reason, you need to take the temporary orders phase of your case very seriously. The nice thing about temporary order mediation is that there is no specific time. That we need to begin negotiating by. Very likely, either you or your Co-parent will have set your case for a temporary order hearing, which provides a de facto deadline for attending mediation. Most family court judges in Texas will require that you attend mediation before a temporary order hearing if, for no other reason than you can at least determine what the major issues of your case are during that session.
The real work when it comes to settlement negotiations is to begin early and often. For example, you should not assume that you will begin settlement negotiations in mediation and avoid doing so earlier. Rather, you should begin laying the groundwork for settlement negotiations informally with your spouse, perhaps even before your divorce has begun. It never hurts to get a feel for your spouse from a mental perspective regarding important issues in your case. You can oftentimes bypass the emotional aspects of settlement negotiations when you discuss them informally with your spouse, and you can address the objective aspects of the case in temporary orders mediation more readily.
An important aspect to remember when it comes to temporary order negotiations within the mediation is that your long-term finances are largely left out of the picture. Short-term issues like temporary child support, temporary spousal support, and figuring out who will pay bills and school tuition during the divorce are all factors to consider in temporary orders mediation. However, you do not need to concern yourself with long-term issues like retirement savings and dividing up the family home.
Instead, you can use temporary orders to familiarize yourself with living independently of your spouse and figure out how to raise your children with a person you are no longer married to and do not live in the same house. Believe it or not, this challenge can be among the most daunting you will face in a divorce. As a result, special attention needs to be paid to the Visitation and possession schedules that you and your spouse work through in this case phase.
Another benefit to mediation is that you and your spouse can work through the issues of your case together rather than relying on a judge who does not know either of you overly well. While it is true that your family court judge will get to know you and your spouse over a few days in your hearing, at no time will the judge know your circumstances in your children better than you and your spouse. Therefore, no one is better suited to help come up with living arrangements for your children and financial arrangements for the duration of your case and temporary orders than you and your spouse.
Another key part to the negotiation phase in temporary orders is that you and your Co-parent can begin to identify different circumstances and emotions that each of you will have to deal with throughout the case and manage if you expect to be able to avoid going to court and take matters into your own hands when it comes to achieving a meaningful settlement. Without a doubt, both of you will come face to face with circumstances and emotions that you may not have anticipated before the divorce beginning of your case.
Negotiating through issues that arise during the divorce
In any divorce, there will be issues that arise that seemingly come out of nowhere. These types of issues ranging from problems with child custody, discrepancies with who is paying which utility bill, and whether or not both parents may attend a sporting event or parent-teacher conference. When it comes to issues like this, a person on the outside may determine that these are not the most significant problems you will likely face in a case. Therefore, simple conversation and a review of the temporary orders may go a long way towards resolving any issues before they become disagreements.
However, in the heat of a divorce, it can become difficult for two people sometimes to see the solutions in plain sight. The reason is that emotions have a way of clouding our minds and giving us a distorted view of our circumstances. What may be an easy problem to solve for an outsider may look like an insurmountable hurdle for an emotionally and financially invested person in a situation.
This is to say that you need to be aware of how emotions can take a divorce off-course. Negotiating your way through a divorce is the most effective way to conclude a case. The key to doing so is to put emotions aside and keep your eyes on the end goal of your case. Getting bogged down in the minutiae of the divorce is a good way to lose sight of what is most important and cost you an opportunity to settle your case outside of court. What I recommend to people is to let you are attorneys handle these types of situations between themselves.
Attorneys are not as emotionally invested in the situation and should provide you and your spouse with an objective view and solutions on how disputes can be avoided in the future. Sometimes all it takes is an attorney's perspective to change your mind or offer you a reason not to prolong your case or enter into the courtroom were not necessary. By the same token, the attorney can also advise you on whether or not a matter needs to see the inside of a courtroom and your options if you reach that point.
The bottom line to all of this is that you need to be intentional with approaching your divorce. I will often recommend that people think long and hard about whether divorce is necessary for themselves. This begins the process of being intentional in thinking rather than reacting. Many people wander into divorce, but very few wander out of a divorce with an equitable outcome for either side. If you are goal-oriented in act intentionally towards achieving those goals in a divorce, then I believe you will more readily negotiate rather than litigate when the going gets tough and when issues come to the forefront that requires some degree of solutions-oriented decision-making.
Finally, one of the most important factors in a divorce when focusing on negotiations is having the right attorney by your side. I cannot emphasize enough how critical the right attorney can be when it comes to advising you of the law, helping you chart a road map for your case, and assisting you in avoiding pitfalls and problems that anyone going through a divorce can experience. If you develop a strong relationship based on trust with your attorney, then the sky is the limit for your case. Negotiation is the usual means by which people accomplish great things in a divorce, and an attorney is your trusted advisor to help you get there more readily.
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 posts, 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.