Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say. What looks good to you may not look good to me and vice versa. Subjective impressions versus objective realities have clashed more than a time or two over the history of mankind. Not to get too philosophical with you but philosophers have debated and thought on this subject since before western civilization existed. These debates are still being had in all corners of our society as we attempt to discern what is truth and what is untruth. What we need to figure out is how family law factors into this discussion.
When it comes to living our lives, we try our best to work well with others (play nice in the sandbox) and help others be productive in their own lives. In turn, others will help us do the same- or so the theory goes. This goes double (or more) for marriages. We hope that our spouse will be so committed to us that he or she will do whatever they can to benefit us, even if that means putting aside their own lives and issues and looking out for what is in our best interests before their own. In a professional environment like the law, we would call this a fiduciary. In the world of relationships and family, we simply call this “love.”
When love breaks down, trust is lost, and we start to not want to put others in front of us which means a problem is on the immediate horizon in our relationships. This is especially true in marriage. Trust is so important to a marriage that the absence of it can be fatal almost immediately. You may not feel it, but a relationship like a marriage never stands still. It is either improving or getting worse. When a divorce becomes an option and is ultimately pursued by you or your spouse then we have to consider just how much both of you want to engage in the process. Filing for divorce means that you will almost surely spend money and time to divide your assets, set up custody arrangements for the kids, and generally disentangle your lives. How much further than that you want to go is up to both of you.
No matter what your specific circumstances are as you face a divorce it is incumbent upon you to participate in the process as fully as possible. It is good to be committed to something important in your life. Committed to a divorce is not something that we normally think about, but it is important nonetheless. The more committed and intentional you are about goal setting, negotiation, and planning the better off you will be. Nobody is telling you that you must spend your entire life committed to planning for a divorce. That is not healthy and may be counterproductive at a certain point. With that said you should still plan on committing time and energy to get divorced the right way.
What the right way means to you may be completely different than what you read here in this blog post. However, we at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan think it is important to be able to share opinions on the best ways to get divorced and to generally proceed with a case. With any luck, you will be able to implement many of these strategies in your divorce so that you can minimize the stress and possibility of bad outcomes in your divorce. You can’t control everything about your case but there certainly are many elements of a divorce that you can plan for and control as much as possible.
When it comes to an opinion, here is one I’d like to share with you right off the bat: the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are uniquely situated when it comes to being able to provide you with the best legal representation in family law matters like divorce. We work tirelessly on behalf of our clients to produce superior results inside and outside the courtroom. For a free-of-charge consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We offer these free-of-charge consultations six days a week at our multiple Houston area locations, over the phone, and via video.
When you decide to file for divorce, go ahead and do it
Many people who decide to get divorced do not go through with their plans. The person will sit around and think about getting divorced but will not set anything into motion as far as getting a divorce. This is a risky game. The longer you wait the greater the likelihood that you will remain married and never move forward to get divorced. Don’t believe me? You would be surprised to learn just how many people have lived separately from their spouse for years or even decades without getting divorced. This is sort of a weird middle ground where nobody can move forward with their lives. It is not recommended and should not be a direction that you take your divorce in.
Rather, once you determine that a divorce is what is best for you and your family that is what you need to move in that direction. Sitting on your hands and wondering about the next steps is ok for a short while. It is normal to be apprehensive about moving forward with a divorce when you don’t exactly know what you are about to encounter or how to plan for anything. That is what an experienced family law attorney is for. Why would you know every step of a divorce without ever having been through one or have had to plan for one? You should have questions. And hiring an attorney means that you can have the answers that you need to feel comfortable moving forward with a divorce. This won’t be an overnight experience, but it can help you to quickly move away from inaction and towards a plan to get divorced efficiently.
Developing a “why” is important
Many people file for divorce but very few have a clearly defined “why.” When I talk about a “why” what I mean is that you need to be able to clearly define your motivations for filing for a divorce. Usually, this means going beyond saying that you no longer want to be married to your spouse. We got that one figured out. What more is there to a divorce that have you filing a case? Do you want to build a better life for your kids and feel that doing so as a single adult is more possible? Are you in an abusive marriage that needs to end for your safety? Whatever the reason is you need to highlight that for yourself. This will help you identify goals better and keep you motivated even during those tough times in a divorce.
Your why can be something unique to you. Texas is a no-fault divorce state so you do not need to have a specific reason listed in your Original Petition for Divorce as far as why you are getting the divorce. Rather, defining your “why” is important for goal setting and motivation. Keeping your eye on the prize is a key part of the entirety of what you and your attorney are going to do once your divorce is in full swing. In those moments where your stress levels are high, your spouse is pushing your patience and things aren’t going your way remembering what your “why” is can keep your focus where it needs to be and allows you to not lose track of your goals and motivation.
On the other hand, if you are the spouse who is being served with divorce papers rather than acting as the spouse who files for divorce, you may be in a position where you need to think long and hard about where you are coming from as far as motivation and establishing your “why.” It can take some time but once a person files for divorce is not overly difficult to establish your motivation. However, if you suddenly have had a divorce thrust upon you then the shoe is certainly on the other foot. You need to be able to figure out how you are going to motivate yourself to stay engaged in a divorce even when the times get tough.
If you feel unmotivated at the beginning of a divorce that you did not file for keep in mind that the case is going to proceed no matter how motivated or unmotivated you feel. You stand to gain or lose a lot just by participating in the case. Your relationship with your children, your property, and a host of other reasons may turn into your motivation. Not being taken advantage of by your spouse is a perfectly good motivator. However, you need to think about this before you get too deep into the divorce. It will help you keep a clear perspective on the case without losing yourself in the details and the emotions that come about in a divorce.
When you have kids, a divorce is not an end to a relationship
In an ideal world, your divorce is the clean cut to a relationship with your spouse. After your divorce, you would both be able to go your separate ways and would no longer have to be concerned with the habits or activities of the other person. For whatever reason, you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce. When the divorce is finally granted by the judge the two of you would have a specific date to point to and say that this is the end of the relationship. However, not all divorces are that clearly defined in terms of an end date for the relationship.
On the contrary, when you and your spouse have children together that means that your relationship is not ending. Rather, the relationship is morphing into something different where you and your spouse are going to be acting as co-parents. The term “co-parent” is one that you will likely hear several times during your divorce. What it means is that you and your spouse we’ll be working together to raise your children to be the best adults that they can be. In many ways, your parenting goals probably will not change all that much even after you get divorced. With that said, the challenge is that you must be able to accomplish your goals as a parent with a person that you used to be married to while living in different households. Piece of cake, right?
When going through a divorce we have already talked about how it is a good practice to think about what you are doing and focus on goal setting. However, in doing that you cannot overlook the reality that when you have children you and your spouse are not ending your relationship on every level. Your marriage may be coming to an end but you have children to raise together. Despite your opinions about the other person at this moment, your child is likely to benefit a great deal from being able to have an ongoing relationship both with you and your co-parent. It is up to you both to be able to facilitate that relationship and encourage their having a relationship both with you and with your co-parent.
How can this be done? On a micro level, you can make sure that your child is ready for visitation with your co-parent on each of their weekends or whatever period of possession is approaching. Get them ready in advance, have their bag packed, and send with your child all the items he or she will need depending upon how long the period of possession will be. This will take some planning to execute but if your motivation is there then you should be able to do it. In performing these steps, you may figure out that your “why” is your children and their well-being.
If you are a non-custodial parent then you can help out by making sure your child is ready to go home on time each weekend that your child spends with you. Typically, your periods of possession end on a Sunday evening so it would be a good idea to make sure your child is fed and ready to go home on time so he or she can get everything ready that they need for school the next day. Dropping your child off at home late on a Sunday evening puts your co-parent in a position where he or she may need to feed the child, bathe him or her, etc. That is a lot of activity to pack into a relatively short period. Instead of causing all of this havoc you can choose to have your child dropped off at home on time at 6:00.
These are the sort of small efforts that you can make each week when it comes to helping out with co-parenting. Without a doubt, when you and your co-parent work together you can achieve better results when it comes to parenting than if you all decided to go it alone and work in isolation from one another. Beyond your child being able to see what you all can do as people working together, the efforts of co-parenting can be harmed by not coordinating with one another on discipline and other issues. If your child did something bad at your house and was punished for it then you can communicate that to your co-parent and allow him or her to continue the discipline there.
On a macro level, parental alienation is a major problem for many families across the country who have just gone through a divorce. Alienation is when one parent attempts to manipulate their child against the other parent. This can be done with words or actions that are intended to show the child that the other parent does not care about him or her or has some other negative connotation to it. Alienation can destroy a parent-child relationship or at least harm it significantly. By engaging in negative behavior or by saying negative things about your co-parent you may be influencing your child in ways that you did not intend. That you can do so behind closed doors without your co-parent even being aware of what you are doing makes it even more difficult to combat.
Whatever you are going through in a divorce, know that there are ways for you to attend to your case while still maintaining a sense of peace and clarity of mind. It takes you being intentional and putting some effort into it but with planning, it can be done.
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 as well as how your family may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.