When you become involved in a Texas family law case, it is common to wonder how to make your case as strong as possible. You will want to be able to see your children as you can, hold as many rights to your children as possible, and keep as much community pop pretty as possible in your divorce. These are reasonable goals, So what they have and your spouse or opposing party probably has very similar plans of their own. You need to ask yourself how your case can go from one where your spouse is in the driver's seat to where you are the one who is in control of the circumstances. There is no family law case where you will be in complete control of the case throughout the entire process. However, it is possible to position yourself as a person who has more advantages than your spouse.
When I think about gaining an advantage in your family law case, the first thing that comes to mind is hiring an experienced family law attorney to represent you. An attorney is not there to make decisions for you in the case. Instead, the attorney is there to guide you through the process and educate you on the decisions you will need to make. The more information you have, the better you will be in your ability to make decisions. Allow an attorney to do their job and provide guidance, and you will feel more confident when it comes to making decisions. This will stand to improve the overall quality of your case.
Next, Consider that an attorney allows you to win on more issues because you can avoid making avoidable mistakes. An avoidable mistake is like an unforced error in sports. There may be times where you run into problems in your family law case that are unavoidable. Sometimes bad things do happen to good people. In that case, you can't be too upset with yourself two because there are limitations as to what you and your attorney can control. We see that even the most prepared clients cannot always anticipate every event in their case. It would help if you didn't dwell on every mistake, but you can minimize disruptions to your case by enlisting the help of an experienced lawyer.
Without a doubt, we see people who have potentially strong cases be hurt in the long run by making a shortsighted decision not to hire an attorney. While it may make your pocketbook feel good not to have attorney's fees to pay, that good feeling can quickly dissipate if you find yourself struggling with one circumstance or another associated with your case. I can think of no better advantage in a case like this but to have an experienced family law attorney by your side.
On the other hand, there are also ways for you to take a strong family law case and turn it into a relatively weak point. This is not something that you have to set out to do either. For the most part, these are mistakes and circumstances that you may fall into due to different occurrences within the case. However, much of the time, you can avoid long-term problems by reversing course when he learned the issues instead of dwelling on them for the long term. However, because I have seen so many people failed to correct course and reverse the problems that they caused, I think it is a good idea to walk through how to turn a winning family log case into a losing one so that you know what not to do within your actual case.
Be dishonest with your attorney.
One of the most accessible and most efficient avenues for turning a good family log case into a bad one is being dishonest or withholding information from your attorney. I want to cover a lot of information on this subject, so my advice is to get comfortable. First off, when it comes to communicating with your attorney, I cannot emphasize how important it is. For one, your attorney relies upon you for information about your case. Because your divorce or child custody case centers around your life and your family, your attorney has no first-hand knowledge of anything going on in that household. Because of this, the lawyer wants to learn as much as they can about your life to help guide you and anticipate decisions that need to be made.
You are doing yourself a disservice by not sharing vital information with your attorney. I understand that it is not always pleasant to share information with your lawyer that will not place you in the most favorable light. I can think back to my childhood when I got a bad grade on a test or a lower quality on a report card when it was time to come home and show my mom the exam results or grading. I was usually not very excited to do so. The reason for this is pretty apparent: I did not want to have to show my mother a bad grade that I'd earned because that great it was a reflection of me.
It was much more preferable to be able to share the good grades and report cards with her. The reasonable rates reflected me, and it was exciting to share these more positive marks with her. The same can be said of a family law case. Within your family law case, there will likely be elements of the possibility that you are excited to share with your lawyer. These could be facts or circumstances that page you in a particularly favorable light or allow you to gain points against your spouse one way or another. Being involved in game planning for is, she's like this can be thrilling, especially if you have been waiting for an opportunity to score some points against your spouse in your divorce or child custody case.
I like to do with clients at the beginning upper case to have them have a conversation with me or fill out paperwork detailing any skeletons in their closet. I'm talking about any material, circumstances, or issues that could arise in their case that may cause problems down the line. Issues with alcohol, drugs, the law, employment, or domestic violence are all relevant to a family law case. As your attorney, I want to know what may come up down the line in your case. Not sharing relevant information with your attorney can grass drastically change the landscape of your case.
Before we go any further, let's talk about an example from my career as an attorney and how that may help you prepare for your family law case. Mild your situation may not be as dramatic as I am about to share with you; I still think this lesson can help shape your attitudes as we proceed into other topics related to harming your case. Again, we want to avoid situations where unforced errors have dire outcomes for you and your family.
Learn from this client: share information with your attorney or suffer the consequences.
A few years ago, I was representing a client in a child custody case north of Houston. The young man that our office had been representing was a young father in his early 20s. He was a nice guy, had a decent job in kept his nose clean. He did have good intentions for his children and approached the problematic case with a good amount of Maturity. I took a liking to this guy as soon as he signed up to work with our office, and I felt like he was honest with her staff and me about the circumstances that he found himself in.
Specifically, this young man was coming to us because his children's mother had decided to abruptly leave Texas and take the kids to her home state of Georgia. The child's mother had family in Georgia, and the mother planned on moving back there full time. This was indeed a situation where any parent would be concerned. No court order protected this father, and there was no prohibition against the mother moving wherever she wanted.
For a young man who knew little of the law at least, he knew enough to seek out then-attorney to help. When he met with us, our office staff and lawyers had multiple talks with him about his life and all the circumstances involved. We felt like he had told us a lot of excellent and relevant information that could represent him. However, there's only so much that an attorney and their staff can ask the client. In most family law cases, specific circumstances require the client to take the initiative and share the information with the attorney. We will see that that was certainly the case with this particular client.
Before the client had met with our office, he had driven to Georgia, and with the permission of the children's mother, he spent some time with his kids. He then asked the mother if he could take the kids home to Texas for a few days to see his family period; since the kids were very close with our client's family, the mother allowed him to take the kids back to Texas. On the day the children were supposed to return to Georgia, there was some bad weather, and our client did not drive that day. However, he thought to stay in Texas and allow the children's mother to argue for primary custody in court.
From there, our client filled in on these details and headed to court after a temporary orders hearing had been set. Our clients sought to retain the role of the primary custodian in the children by having the kids live with him full time. We had the children's mother served with notice of the hearing date in Georgia, but we were not sure that she would be able to hire an attorney or would even plan on attending the hearing. On the day of the hearing, we showed up with our client at the courthouse and waited patiently for the hearing to begin.
Shortly before the hearing was set to begin, in walks the opposing party with an attorney; this was not too great of a shock, given that not showing up for a family law hearing is scarce. That she had an attorney was perhaps somewhat more surprising but still hiring an attorney at the last minute to represent you in a family law case is something you see frequently. So, in walks the opposing party and her attorney for this very impcrucial. I introduced myself to the attorney and walked with him to a private area of the courthouse to speak to determine whether or not there is any way we could work through this case's issues and avoid temporary orders hearing.
When I was able to sit down with the lawyer to discuss the circumstances of this case, I found that there was a significant part of this case that our client had not shared with us; specifically, our client had not shared that in his home was living an uncle of his who is a convicted child predator. Some years ago, our client's uncle had been brought up on charges related to sexual assault. Needless to say that this was a massive problem for our client given that the children have been staying with our client since they had been returned to Texas and were literally within arms reach of his uncle.
It was courteous of the opposing attorney to share this information with me before the hearing rather than two completely surprise me with the information in the hearing. They could have argued that because the opposing party had hired the attorney relatively soon before the hearing, they had not had an opportunity to speak to me about this development in advance. However, he chose the noble route in giving me this information before the hearing.
At that stage, we told the judge that we would need some time to speak to our clients. I talked to our client to confirm what the opposing attorney had told me. He did tell me he did that his uncle had some issues similar to what had been described to me by the other attorney clip in the past. I then asked our client how far these issues were in the past, and he said he didn't know. I was able to look upon the Internet that these relatively recent issues have occurred in the past five years.
I do not think our client was purposely dishonest or was the type of person to hide facts. However, I think a combination of simply not knowing what was relevant to a case and then not wanting to share unpleasant information ultimately put us in a position where I was learning about very appropriate materials on the day of a necessary court hearing. Finally, we decided to negotiate with the other side on temporary provisions on child support and child custody rather than two risks having some supervised visitation ordered by a judge.
Had our client told me about this information in the weeks before the hearing, I could have provided him with some degree of advice on mitigating the damage to this situation. Simply asking his uncle to move out before seeing the children bring them back to Texas could have been a good option for him. However, because I had no idea about the specifics of his circumstance, this information and advice were not relayed to him.
The bottom line is that communication with your attorney is crucial; if you cannot or will not share information that puts you in a bad light, you are doing yourself a disservice. Please note that this information will eventually come out anyway. It is best to protect yourself by sharing the info willingly with your attorney rather than having them find out about it the hard way.
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 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.