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Texas Divorce: What You Should Know

When it comes to divorce in Texas, there are several things that we at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like you to be aware of as you consider your options and think about whether a divorce is a necessary step for you to take at this time. Whether you are the spouse who is considering a divorce, or you have just been served with divorce papers you likely have a lot on your mind right now. To be asked to make the best decisions for yourself and your children in a time like this is certainly asking a lot. Your head may be spinning from the different circumstances and issues that are popping up in your life. 

Do not fret about the parts of a divorce that you can't control- and there are a lot of them. Rather, take into consideration those topics that you can exert some control over rather than constantly worry about parts of your case that are outside your realm of control. In today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we are going to share with you some information about divorcing in Texas. What it takes to get divorced, how to proceed through the case efficiently, whether you need to hire an attorney, and what the end of a divorce looks like are going to be the topics that we discuss here today. 

I will tell you that the best sort of advice or perspective that you can gain when it comes to a divorce is to meet personally with an experienced family law attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. While we hope that you will learn something from reading this blog post the best possible information that you can gain about your divorce is after sitting down and going through your circumstances with one of our experienced attorneys. You can go through the facts and circumstances of your case and the attorney you meet with. 

Every family is different and yours is no exception to this rule. As a result, the information that you read in today’s blog post should be helpful, but it will not touch on the specific circumstances and nuances that are relevant to your case and your life. For that, the free-of-charge consultation with one of our attorneys will be just what the doctor ordered. You can schedule a free thirty-minute consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. We have three office locations in Houston, Humble, and Kingwood so where you are an attorney can meet with you at a convenient location close to your home. 

Divorce does not have to be a war (or even a battle)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: all divorces are tough, knockdown, drag-out fights that always leave one person (at least) feeling like they have been put through the wringer in terms of their life being tossed around and their well-being having been subjected to the worst, nastiest process known to man. You are lucky if you make it out of a divorce alive, with your sanity and a few bucks to your name. Asking for anything more would be greedy. Sound familiar?

I think just about every one of us reading this blog post has heard some version of that take on divorce before. Not only is divorce common in our country but we know that people like to tell eye-catching stories. You never hear about how the latest fishing expedition ended up with your relative catching a generic bass. The bass was either as big as your arm or the person doesn't tell the story. You don't hear about the run-of-the-mill bass that was pulled aboard the boat. Rather, you heard extensively about how your uncle yanked on that reel and pulled aboard a fish that would've made Moby Dick look like a minnow. That is what is eye-catching and frankly more interesting a story to tell. 

Before you start to think that you are reading an angler's blog, stay with me here. The fishing comparison is appropriate here as we consider what it means to get divorced. My point is that you as a potential participant in a divorce don't necessarily need to worry that your divorce is going to be one of those knockdown, drag-out fights. Sure, it absolutely could be. You and your spouse could have completely, opposite views of parenting and your lives post-divorce. You may disagree about how property should be characterized. There could be so many disagreements and the two of you may be on such bad terms that to imagine a scenario where your divorce is not full of acrimony would be more hope or a wish than anything else. If your spouse and you are like these hypothetical people, then you may be justified in thinking that your divorce is going to be a knock-down drag-out fight. 

Otherwise, most divorces in Texas are not the sort of thing that we can read about in the news or see on the big screen in a movie. The scandalous, fiery divorce is the one that gets the headlines. The more common divorce where the spouses just don’t get along or disagree on a couple of core issues is less exciting and not newsworthy. People get divorced all the time and are still civil to their spouses but feel like the relationship isn't what it used to be and never will be able to get back to that stage. These people are more likely to divorce on good terms than never speak to one another again. For one, it would be a shame to never run into a person that you devoted a huge chunk of your life to and quite possibly had children with. 

Secondly, most of us just don't have it in us to hold a grudge for that long. Surely, there are legitimate reasons why you may have a judgment against your spouse. Things like family violence are terrible offenses and ones that most people would not be able to forgive- at least quickly. For most other offenses a forgive-and-forget attitude will seem to be the most appropriate if you want to avoid the sort of divorce case that is settled through mediation or informal settlement negotiation rather than in a courtroom by a family court judge. 

There are built-in roadblocks that are designed to keep you and your spouse from going at each other physically or mentally. By hiring an attorney, you can put someone that is not only knowledgeable about the law in your corner but also is skilled at communication. You will not believe how much work can get done in a divorce if you have an attorney (and an attorney who represents your spouse) who is geared towards communication Some family law attorneys are not great communicators. This may surprise you to learn this but many attorneys who spend most of their time in court are not good at communicating. For whatever reason, these folks are in the courtroom but have not been able to improve their communication skills in that time. Rather, these attorneys talk a big game in consultation but will have trouble backing that up in the courtroom. 

Interview multiple attorneys if possible

Many people who go through a divorce either do so out of fear or because they are forced into it. If your spouse files for divorce against you, I should add, it does make sense for you to go along for the ride and be an active participant in the case. The alternative is to allow your spouse to collect a default judgment against you for failure to respond to the original petition for divorce promptly. Instead, of risking a default judgment or simply having a bad experience in the divorce you should take every opportunity made available to you to talk with experienced attorneys about your case. This means taking seriously the meetings that you have with attorneys and being prepared to ask questions. More important in your speaking in these consultations is your willingness to listen to the attorney to learn better what he or she thinks of your situation as well as the type of questions that are asked of you. 

Some of you may have never interacted with an attorney before at any level or for any reason. You should consider yourself lucky. Not because lawyers are as bad as all the jokes make us out to be. Rather, because you have lived a life that has not required interaction with someone who usually is employed to help fix a mess or at least minimize the mess that is made. Family law attorneys are employed to do just that. A divorce case means that a marriage has already failed. The parties may not agree as to why the marriage has failed but, in most divorces, both spouses will readily admit to there being issues in a marriage. You are hiring a lawyer because of those failings. 

When you sign up to meet with an attorney it is important to share with the attorney enough information about your case so the lawyer can give you back some information for you to consider. Usually, that information will be geared towards you hiring that lawyer but in many cases, the information that you provide to the lawyer can help you learn more about your case. You can provide the basic information to a lawyer and then listen to his or her response. This is important since you won't be able to find a blog post on our website or any other attorney's website that will be tailor-made to your specific circumstances. You may as well take advantage of the meeting and learn a little about Texas family law as well as about how the law interacts (or is likely to interact) with your family's situation.

Once you meet with one attorney it makes a lot of sense to eventually meet with a handful of other attorneys if you choose. I say that because getting a second or third opinion about your case is never a bad thing. You may find that the information that you get from attorney #3 is more concise, specific, and applicable than the information provided to you by attorney #1. Additionally, the attorney that you meet with later on in the interview process may be someone that your personality works better or has a greater chance to form a good relationship. 

Get ready to do some homework

You will be given homework assignments. Once you have filed/responded to a divorce petition and are now officially a part of the divorce you can consider what must be done next. A divorce is not something where you can put the case on autopilot or have your attorney do all the work for you. If that ends up happening, you may save yourself some time but the result will be far from ideal for you and your family. Nobody knows your family's circumstances better than you do. As a result, you are likely to be given some work to do by your attorney or their staff. 

The first assignment is likely to be concerning discovery requests- specifically, responding to the requests for discovery. Discovery is a court-sanctioned process where your spouse sends to your attorney certain questions, requests for admission, and other items. You, too, can submit requests for discovery upon your spouse. You will usually have thirty days to respond to these requests for discovery. Your responses may be short answers, lengthier paragraphs, or simply objections. However, you will also be asked for requests early in the case. 

Your best bet is to prepare for this event before your divorce even having started. If you know that tax documents, pay stubs, and other personal information is going to be requested then you should start to dig through your important documents for those forms. It makes a lot more sense for you to concern yourself with doing these tasks when you have time rather than paying a paralegal or your attorney to help you achieve results in this area.

During the case, your attorney may ask you for updates on information about your kids. You can provide that to him or her in case an emergency hearing needs to be had. The bottom line is that turning over vital paperwork to your attorney as early as possible can make a huge difference to your case. Rushing through assignments like this can be detrimental to your case. Take your time and think about your instructions before submitting something to your attorney that is incorrect and will need revision soon. 

Pay attention to the details at the end of a case

So, you have now reached the end of your divorce! Almost time to celebrate, right? Well, yes, but not quite yet. Before you start popping corks it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Imagine a situation where you and your spouse have settled your divorce case in mediation. There is a mediated settlement agreement with your signatures on the form and your agreements spelled out clear as day. Either your or your spouse's attorney will need to take that mediated settlement agreement and turn it into a set of draft final orders for the judge to review. You and your attorney should be very careful to ensure that something egregious is not included in those court orders. 

Your mind and body will be pushing you, propelling you toward the end of your divorce. Again, it is human nature to try and look past something unpleasant to see a future that looks better by comparison. I completely get that. However, by you are reading a family law attorney’s blog tells me that you are a person who does not leave much to chance. Rather, you examine the situation and make informed decisions. That is what I recommend that you consider at the end of your divorce- to pay close attention to the details. 

The more attention that you pay to the details of your case now the better off you will be. Do not underestimate the amount of work that is being put out by your spouse and their lawyer. Assuming that you are a first-time divorcing couple you should not take for granted what you do not know. If you have questions about the issues in a divorce, the timeline, or any other information related to what you read in this blog post we recommend that you contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan directly. 

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. The experienced family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan 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 but also because you can learn more about how your circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. 

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