A divorce is not as complicated as many people make it out to be. Yes, there are some steps involved in the process that you will need to understand more about. Taking the first step towards learning about divorce may be exactly where you are right now. If so- welcome to our blog here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. I think that you will find we do our best to mix informative blog posts with interesting writing and analysis. These posts are made every single day so whether you are interested in learning more about divorce, child custody, adoption, or something else we believe that there is no better resource on the internet to begin the learning process when it comes to family law than our blog.
When you are learning about divorce it pays to be as well-informed as possible- quite literally. Doing the bare minimum to prepare for your case is not a great strategy. Even if you just want to get your case done and over with there are potential potholes and problems that can arise without your knowing. Once you have problems on your hands in a divorce they rarely go away on their own. Rather, you need to be able to take the necessary steps to do something about those problems to eradicate them. This blog post is designed to help you not only handle problems once they confront you but to avoid them at all costs from the beginning of your case.
Of course, just like in life, some mistakes in the world of Texas divorces are unavoidable. There are so many variables in a divorce that you cannot account for all of them. Balancing the circumstances of your life and the law is tough. Hiring an attorney to help you manage those responsibilities is a smart move if you ask me. An attorney cannot guarantee you a specific result in your case but he or she can help you to minimize risk, take advantage of opportunities presented to you and negotiate well with your spouse. All of this is done to promote the well-being of your children and exit the divorce with the best possible circumstances for your post-divorce life.
If you are delaying a divorce or are otherwise concerned about what a divorce will look like you for you then I recommend that you contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. Nobody can make a divorce a walk in the park but an attorney from our office can provide you with information based on your specific situation and the circumstances that you are facing. Every divorce is different. What you are going through right now in your life is not going to be 100% accounted for in this blog post. As a result, we hope that you will take the questions that you will inevitably have after reading this blog post and then contact our office by phone or here on the website.
We can schedule a free-of-charge consultation for you that can help you collect information and begin to gain a perspective on your divorce case. That is the point where you can start to learn more about what a divorce will look like and how you can balance the needs of your children, yourself, and your life after divorce. Information is power in a divorce. You cannot control every part of your divorce, but you can control your approach. Having goals and then developing a plan to achieve those goals is a huge priority for people who are successful in divorce cases.
The early steps of divorce: Do I need to get divorced, what to do next, and developing goals
When people talk to our attorneys about the beginning stages of a divorce, I will often ask them if they have considered other options besides divorce. You may be surprised to find out that many people in your shoes have not even considered that there are other options for them besides getting divorced. I can completely see how you may assume that there is no "hope" left in your marriage. Most married people have stared over the edge of the abyss at one time or another when it comes to contemplating a divorce- for better or worse. However, to resign yourself to a divorce despite there being other options available to you is not only a mistake but could be a disastrous one for yourself and your children.
Counseling and therapy are options for families who believe that there may be more time to try and work through the problems that they have encountered in their marriage. While it is never easy to have to dissect the problems in your marriage, if you and your spouse are willing to do so then it can be a necessary if not painful exercise on the road to rehabilitating the marriage. The steps that you take to address those problems can start with improving the communication that you share with your spouse. Many people assume that counseling is an opportunity for a therapist to assign blame for problems in your marriage. On the contrary, the most important aspect of therapy is not placing blame but rather promoting communication between spouses.
Nobody is born a great communicator. We all must develop skills based on the different experiences that will assist us in learning how to communicate better with one another. The relationship that we have with our spouses is no different. It may feel like we do not need to focus as much on this relationship but that is not true. Rather, we need to be able to communicate well with our spouse even though we may have been married to this person for years. Breakdowns in communication and a lack of interest in communication with your spouse may have been the primary cause of the problems that you are experiencing right now. Simply being able to identify this reality can make something like therapy worth every penny that you put into the process.
If your spouse is willing to go through therapy with you then this is a great sign for your marriage. A spouse who understands that there is a problem believes they must contribute to the solution with you and then actually follows through and attends counseling with you is the sort of person that allows you to save your marriage. Do not take this for granted. Your spouse, like you and I, is an imperfect person. Acknowledging their role in the problem is so important even if he or she did nothing to put you all in this situation. If you cheated on your spouse and recommend counseling to your spouse- and he agrees to go with you- then this is a great sign that the marriage can be saved.
On the other hand, some people are just deadest against counseling for whatever reason. Counseling has a negative connotation to many people and the need to overcome this negative impression can be a crucial part of whether your spouse will attend counseling with you. We have already walked through one of the major misnomers about counseling- how it is used mainly to place blame for marriage problems at the feet of one spouse or the other. However, a spouse who is willing to look past these past biases and towards something that can be a benefit for the two of you and your family.
You can reach out to marriage and family therapists in your area to determine how suitable they may be to act on your instinct to attend counseling with your family. You can contact your health insurance company to see if they have a list of therapists or counselors who accept your health insurance. Next, there may be a college near your home that offers free counseling services due to their wanting to have their students get some real-world experience. Next, your priest or pastor may be able to either find you a therapist or may be able to offer you therapy themselves. The trouble with going to a priest or pastor to talk about marriage is that the person knows you and your family. Part of the nice thing about going to a therapist who does not know you or your spouse is. Ultimately the type of counselor or therapist that you select is up to you.
If you do determine that filing for divorce is necessary, then you should go ahead and reach out to an attorney. You may determine that you do not need to hire a lawyer or that hiring a lawyer will not be something that you can afford or tolerate. However, to go into a divorce with no lawyer has not thought seriously about the ramifications of your not doing so is a mistake. Rather, you should not only think through the issues of your case but should reach out to an attorney to gain their perspective. There may be issues in your case that you had not considered which can have a dramatic impact on your case both now and at the end of the case. These are issues that you could've driven right past, metaphorically speaking, in considering divorce without the assistance of an attorney.
A lot of times people will ask me "what kind of person needs to hire a lawyer for their divorce?" There is a rule of thumb that I mention from time to time on this blog. If you do not have a lot of property to divide up or minor children who need to be attended to then you may be able to get away with not having an attorney represent you in your divorce. The benefits of not having an attorney can be seen in you taking the opportunity to address the major issues in the room while anticipating what is going to happen in the future. This is where the experience of your family law attorney can come in handy.
Developing goals for your divorce is about as basic a step that you can work on together with your attorney. If you have children, then your goal may be to end up with an equal amount of parenting time compared to your spouse. This can be seen in sharing custody, limited child support, or even agreeing to contribute jointly to a college fund for your child. Whatever the circumstances that you are facing you can help your position by being charitable and civil with your spouse. Kill ‘em with kindness as it has been said many times. It means that if your spouse is trying to make life difficult for you in the divorce you can turn around and wish him or her well. This snuffs out all the oxygen available for him or her and forces them to change the subject or otherwise suffer the consequences of things like parental alienation allegations being made against him or her based on their uncivil tone.
Once you have some goals it is time to work on a strategy that can help you to achieve those goals. Given that this is likely a step that takes some coordination and brainstorming to contribute to, that means that the two of you can better focus your energies together rather than waiting for the middle of a divorce to start to think about goals for you and your family. Having goals, developing a strategy, and then acting out that strategy completes the circle as far as I'm concerned. Did you know that many people who go into a divorce think that the lawyer does all the work for them? This could not be further from the truth. An attorney gives you perspective and assistance where necessary. From there, you are still responsible for making decisions in your case. Think of the attorney as a safety monitor who can tell you when you are headed for a pothole or other obstacle.
Attending mediation, drafting final orders, and completing the divorce
Before either a temporary order hearing or a final trial you will have the opportunity to attend mediation. Mediation is a process where you and your attorney and your spouse and their attorney can meet with a third-party lawyer who will act as a mediator. The mediator will try and bring the two of you closer together on the issues that you are negotiating through in your divorce. This is done by communicating settlement offers and counter offers as well as playing devil's advocate about positions that either one of you may be taking. You may be able to look at the case from a different perspective by considering the words of your mediator.
If you and your spouse have settled on any issues in your case, then a mediated settlement agreement will be provided to you after mediation. The mediated settlement agreement will encapsulate all the agreements that you made with your spouse during mediation. You can look at it as these being the major issues that you and your spouse do not need to litigate in a temporary order hearing or trial. Ideally, you and your spouse will be able to settle all your outstanding issues in mediation thereby making a hearing or trial unnecessary.
Preparation for mediation is incredibly important. You should look at mediation as a test run for the arguments that you will be making in a trial or temporary order hearing. If the arguments that you are making in mediation failed to impress the mediator or are met with confusion by your spouse, then you may want to rethink some of the positions that you will be taking in your divorce. Figuring out different ways to divide community property is a great exercise for you and your attorney to engage in leading up to mediation. There is almost always more than one way to work out a settlement when it comes to Community property division. all it takes is someone being creative and thinking outside the box. The same can be said when it comes to dividing up time with your children and creating a workable possession schedule. Think realistically about your needs and those of your children before mediation and you will be prepared to negotiate creatively regarding this subject.
Temporary orders hearings and trials can result if you are unsuccessful in mediation at settling your case. This just means that you need to take the preparation that you did before mediation and apply that to contested hearings before a judge. These are complex matters in a venue that you are likely unfamiliar with. For that reason, hiring an experienced family law attorney can be seen as a great investment especially if you do not believe that you will be able to settle your case with your spouse before either a temporary order hearing or trial.
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 about how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.