Just about all of the advice offered on this website is regarding family law issues in Texas. As experienced practitioners in family law counselors, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan stands ready to assist you in your family in whatever circumstances you find yourself in regards to this subject. We walk side by side with people going through some of the most difficult relational, marital and financial circumstances of their lives. We take a great deal of pride in being able to serve others. Our staff and attorneys worked tirelessly to advance our clients' interests and perform our legal duties as well as possible generally.
We know that knowledge of the law and inexperience in practicing law is only part of the equation when it comes to fulfilling our obligations to our clients. So much else when it comes to serving our clients has to do with being empathetic and effective listeners. Have you ever read studies or come into contact with news articles that tell you just how bad of listeners doctors are, for example? I am paraphrasing these studies, but for the most part, studies show that doctors tend to listen to patients for only a few seconds per conversation. I'm not telling you this to smear the good name of doctors, however. The unfortunate truth is that I think this would be true for many attorneys, as well.
When people get busy, they tend to block out distractions in hopes of being able to accomplish their goals more readily. I think doctors, attorneys in all of us, in general, tend to do that if we stop and think about it. If we consider the difficulties of the life you may be leading as you head into a family law case, then we have to consider the possibility that you need someone to talk to you just as much as you need legal advice. Although I will not recommend to you that an attorney is the only person you should talk to about your family law-related issues, the fact is that your attorney should be able to at least offer a listening ear from time to time about the issues that affect your life.
At the same time, I am not recommending that you turn your attorney into your therapist. We have experienced therapists and counselors in our area for this specific reason. You want to work with people whose expertise is in counseling and therapy when you need long-term help with your mental well-being. Your attorney should be aware of what is bothering you and should be able to provide the context in assistance as far as how their position can help you accomplish your legal goals on behalf of yourself and your children. Sometimes all this takes is being willed to listen rather than talk past a person.
It says back to the title for today's blog post. You may wonder how your spouse could be interested in divorce or have already filed for divorce from you. You felt like your marriage was either in good shape, or even if it wasn't, reconciliation could be possible with counseling and therapy. Now that your spouse is either told you that they are considering divorce or you have been served with divorce papers, a million thoughts may be circulating in your mind. Not the least would be where you go from here, and how do you protect yourself?
I want to offer you my thoughts on how you can approach a divorce when a process has blindsided you. After all of the changes that we have seen in our lives during the past year, you may have thought that you were about to be put back into a position where you could achieve some equilibrium and normalcy. With the rollout of the vaccines and a general sense of optimism taking the place of the pessimism we have all felt over the past year. However, being confronted with divorce out of the blue may now be causing you to take a step back and reevaluate your position. What can you do from a legal strategy and emotional standpoint to work past these issues you're experiencing and do what you need to benefit your children and yourself?
Identify who in your life can offer you support in a listening ear at this time.
If the past year hasn't made it abundantly clear that we all need people in relationships in our lives, then I don't know what will. Human beings are social creatures, and as a result, we rely upon one another for conversation, togetherness, family, and friendship. While it is easy to attempt it alone during a divorce, it is far from the most effective strategy. I recommend reaching out to people in your life and informing them of what is going on with you. You may be surprised to learn how many people out there care about you and want to make sure that you're doing as well as possible. Do not keep your family and friends in the dark about what is happening.
The reality is that while you may feel at the moment that you don't need any assistance with your emotional or relational well being the fact is if you don't work people into your circle of trust early in the process, you may find it is too late for when you need their assistance or time. The sooner you tell folks about your situation, the sooner you can bring people into your life that can help you when you need it. Family and friends are almost always willing to offer you their period; this is especially true if you all have been separated due to the pandemic over the past year.
If you don't have anyone in your life who can fulfill these roles as being a person who is available to act as a support for you during this time, then you should look in the direction of your church, civic organizations that you may be a part of and especially your family. Do not let your pride put you into a position where you cannot reach out for help when you need it. Establishing a report with people in your community will help you in additional times of need that you will encounter in your future, even if they cannot help you, especially right now. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you to have someone in your life who can act as a source of solace and encouragement during what could be a lengthy family law case.
On the other hand, one place you should not look to for a source of encouragement or advice during your divorce would be your children. No matter how mature or stable you believe them to be, your kids are not capable of offering you the sort of assistance you need during this time. I have seen many parents confide in their children about the events in their life with some not-so-pleasant outcomes. Remember that your children are going through tough times as a result of your case as well. Ideally, you will be the person who is there for your children and not the other way around.
Remember that counselors and therapists are oftentimes covered under your health insurance. You should reach out to your health insurance provider to see what resources are available to you covered by insurance. You may be surprised to find that many options are available to you if you would only inquire about them. Your workplace human resources Department or church are other sources that you may want to turn to during your divorce to find professional assistance when discussing the ongoing difficulties of a divorce. The bottom line is that resources are likely available to you, but you need to be willing to find them and take advantage of them when you do.
Figure out what your goals are and then take steps to achieve them
one of the most frustrating things that I encounter as a family law attorney with our clients who readily acknowledge problems in their lives and even file divorce is to attempt to rectify the problems but do not work to achieve goals during the case. Many people will file a divorce and then leave it at that. I can tell you that it is possible to wander into a divorce, but it is tough to wander out of a divorce. To get out of divorce successfully and achieve results that are beneficial for you and your family, you need to have goals and then come up with a plan on how to achieve those goals.
How do you even come up with goals in a divorce when you have little knowledge of the process? This is the $1,000,000 question. It sounds nice and well to say that you need to come up with goals for your family law case, but it is an entirely different matter altogether for you to arrive at goals that are achievable and geared towards you and your family. You can read our blog and many more like them to determine other people's goals, but until you have concrete goals for yourself, you will never put forth the effort to achieve them.
For that reason, I recommend sitting down with your attorney and brainstorming goals for you to implement within your divorce case. These goals should be concrete, measurable, and put into writing. In many ways, your original divorce petition will force you to put those goals into writing. An original divorce petition requires that you directly address the relief you seek from your family law court. So, if you want to have the court awards something in the divorce, you need to be able to express that to the court in your initial filings.
You may also have questions about what goals are appropriate or even achievable for your specific circumstances. The beginning of a case is a great time for you to ask questions about what goals you have and which ones are realistic for you to achieve. I've had the good fortune to work with many people going through divorce cases. Most people have calls that are either far too conservative or extremely unrealistic. Many parents going through a divorce will have a goal of not allowing their spouse to see the child except on rare occasions. Unless you find yourself in a certain type of divorce, it is doubtful that your spouse will get no custody rights in the divorce case. Likewise, having a goal of getting out of the case in one piece is not good enough.
Having measurable goals regarding a divorce case means that you can touch in feeling them in your final decree of divorce. The final decree of divorce is the final order in a divorce case. If you want a certain amount of child support, certain rights and duties about your children, or to retain your family home in the divorce, then you should work to achieve these goals. The more specific your goals can be, the better off your case will be. This is because there is no wiggle room or question about how to achieve those goals. Your best bet is to develop achievable and measurable goals and then act intentionally to achieve them.
What does it mean to act intentionally? Remember when we spoke earlier about people who wander into divorce and then expect to be able to wander out of divorce? Acting intentionally is the opposite of this type of behavior. Those who wander into divorce do so with no goals, objectives, or idea about the ramifications of their case. On the other hand, those who act intentionally during divorce gear all of their actions in words towards a specific end. There are no wasted motions, so to speak. Everything you do and choose not to do is geared towards achieving goals.
Many people who complain about the length of their divorce and then tell you horror stories about how your divorce could find themselves in that position because they were either unwilling were unable to discipline themselves within the case towards actions that are geared towards achieving goals and completing the case as quickly as possible. For example, many spouses in a divorce will become fixated on certain kinds of behavior that end up along gating cases rather than shortening them. If you know that your spouse, for example, is prone to emotional outbursts and immature behavior, then this is something you should prepare yourself for. If you don't, you may end up getting sucked down a path where you are susceptible to engaging in the same type of behavior.
Next, I would engage as professionally with your Co-parent about the case as possible. Do not allow issues regarding emotional matters to creep into how you divorce and proceed with your case. While you may have plenty of emotional baggage in your marriage, after all, who doesn't, you should do your best to ignore the tendencies that come up in a divorce to engage in back and forth. At a certain point, a divorce, even one with children, becomes a business transaction. It is OK to have emotion and to appeal to emotion on occasion. However, the vast majority of your actions should be geared towards achieving objectives.
Finally, you should hold regular meetings with your attorney to be updated on your case's progress and ask questions period; it is in these meetings that you will be able to assess your goals and determine whether or not a changing course is needed. To hold the same goals, in their exact form, from the beginning to an end of a divorce would be uncommon. Almost every spouse who goes through a divorce will need to change their perspective and operate the case due to changing circumstances. To fail to do so would not be a sign of toughness but rather an inflexibility. Within a divorce, you have to roll with the punches and stand up for what you believe in. Finding the middle ground between the two is a job that you and your attorney will have to engage in.
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 a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the circumstances of your family, and how they may be affected by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.