Ask anyone who has gone through a divorce and he or she can tell you that one of the most sought-after goals that you should have in your divorce is a drama-free case. Drama means different things to different people but overall, it is an understanding that there is something more important than fighting and trying to push for every last inch in your case. Make no mistake, your divorce is not something set in a Hollywood movie or television show. Rather, it involves real people, real circumstances, and real emotions. All of this is to say that you cannot expect to have the same resolve, patience, and stiff upper lip that the people in movies and television shows go through in dramatic and intense divorce circumstances.
Rather, in a divorce that doesn’t involve actresses and actors, you must be conscientious of several different factors when it comes to your case. In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we are going to walk through what those factors are and how having a drama-free divorce can help when it comes to managing your case. A drama-free divorce does not only help with the overall stress levels of the case, but it also helps with keeping costs low, maintaining lines of communication between you and your spouse, and benefiting the lives of your children.
The benefits of a drama-free divorce
One of the key parts of any good drama, whether it be on television or in a movie, is the unknown. Keeping you guessing at every twist and turn is how scriptwriters make their money. If you knew everything that was going to happen in your favorite show or if a movie had a predictable plot then you would not be engrossed by the content. As a result, keeping you guessing when it comes to what is included in these television shows and movies is important. The same principle exists in your divorce too. not being able to know what to expect in your case is a key part of how divorces go from a bad situation to a worse situation.
Keeping the drama at a minimum from the outset of your divorce means being able to talk to your husband or wife about what is upcoming. If your spouse files for a divorce from you and chooses not to tell you about it then there is nothing you can do about that. This is something that you just must deal with and then manage the divorce as best you can. However, if the divorce ends up being a mutual decision or if you are the spouse who plans on filing for divorce then you can take the initiative and talk to your spouse about the case rather than keeping it a mystery. One of the major sources of drama in a case can start from the very beginning when one spouse is caught completely off guard by the filing of a divorce. If you expect your case to be any different then you are fooling yourself.
Unless there is an issue with safety or something different altogether then you should try to discuss the divorce with your spouse as early as you can. This may mean seeing things from the perspective of your spouse and even having difficult and awkward conversations with him or her. Remember, nobody said that a drama-free divorce was the same thing as a divorce that had no difficulties. You could argue that divorces that are more difficult as far as the communication aspects end up being less drama-filled. The reason for this is that many spouses skip over the difficult conversations and instead file for divorce without even speaking to their spouse first. However, if you engage in a difficult conversation with your spouse, you may find that you can avoid the unpleasant drama that comes with hurt feelings during the middle of a case. Or you may be able to avoid the divorce altogether in some situations.
However, all of this starts with you having the resolve to speak with your spouse about the case from the very beginning. There is no secret to having these conversations. Rather, the best advice that we can give you is to simply decide to do it and then be respectful and listen. You do not have to be a great communicator to talk with your spouse about a divorce. Rather, all you need to do is make up your mind to be civil with your spouse and show respect to him or her. Even if you are moving forward with the divorce that your spouse does not want, he or she can determine whether you are being obnoxious and pushy or whether you are approaching the divorce with respect. When you begin a case respectfully and by showing a certain degree of civility then your spouse is much more likely to act in the same way toward you.
We have all heard the expression that nobody likes surprises. Well, you can apply that lesson to your divorce, as well. Even if the divorce does not completely come out of the blue it is not as if anyone wants to be served with divorce papers at a random time. Rather, in a situation like that people like to be able to make plans with one another to be able to figure out what comes next and what their next move will be. The more of a warning that you can provide to your spouse about the divorce the more likely he or she can plan for what comes next and the more likely that the two of you can begin to think about how you are going to negotiate through the upcoming case.
Being able to prepare one another for a divorce also carries with it certain benefits in terms of how your children will react to the case. Children thrive on stability and consistency when it comes to their daily lives. A divorce is surely an event that will throw a wrench into the consistency and stability in their daily lives. While you cannot completely remove any disruption to their lives when you are going through a divorce what you can do is help your spouse to be kept up to date with your plans and to communicate how you are going to handle issues related to your children during the divorce case itself.
Part of what you are doing during your divorce is planning for your post-divorce life when it comes to raising your children. You and your spouse will be working through plans when it comes to visitation, possession, child support, and all the other logistical matters associated with raising a child in separate households. This is a great opportunity for the two of you to see what works and what does not work when it comes to raising your children after your divorce. What many families do not realize or do not have enough respect for when it comes to their family law case is that if something doesn’t work when it comes to your children during your divorce then it almost certainly will not start working once the divorce comes to an end.
The communication that you need to establish with your spouse is regarding how you are going to handle the situation regarding your children. If the two of you can talk about your relationship with your children and how matters regarding your children are going to be handled, then you will be miles ahead of many families you do not do this. By choosing to define what your values are concerning your children and the divorce you really can eliminate a great deal of drama that otherwise might occur. What many people don’t realize is that by choosing to communicate about your children during the divorce you can position your children to have the best post-divorce life possible. It may come at the cost of time spent talking to your spouse but in the long run, it will be a huge benefit for your family for you to have done so.
Seek out mediation wherever possible
Mediation is the secret sauce to any Texas divorce. It is unfortunate, then, that many people starting up the divorce process aren’t even aware of what mediation is. So that this is not a problem for you in your divorce we are going to spend some time today going through what mediation is, how to prepare for it, and what advantages it offers to a family who are seeking to avoid drama at all costs.
Mediation is a process where you and your spouse will mutually agree to meet with an experienced, third-party mediator who will try to help you settle your case regarding any outstanding issues that may exist between the two of you. This is a great benefit to have especially if you all have been stuck negotiating on a few subjects and have not made much progress one way or another. At a certain point, your attorneys may have gone through the issues with the other side so many times that there is not much left to discuss. Therefore, working with a third party who is neutral can help you open avenues toward a settlement that you may not have considered previously.
In most divorce cases in Texas, mediation occurs before temporary orders hearing and before a trial is held. There is an old saying in the law that deadlines spur action. I think that this is true when it comes to a divorce case. Mediation is purposefully set up a short while before either of these two important points in a case to allow for the parties to understand that if a settlement is not reached then a trial or hearing will occur. It is much better to settle your case in mediation rather than proceed to a trial because a trial puts the case in the hands of a judge and removes your autonomy. It also increases the length of your case and the costs. As a result, you and your spouse should seriously consider your options and take mediation as seriously as possible.
Taking mediation seriously means having a plan before attending a session. You need to know your case frontwards and backward. This can mean establishing goals for yourself and developing a plan with your attorney for reaching those goals. The simplest way to do this is to consider the case it’s been two cases in one. The first case that you will be building towards is that of your community property division. At a minimum, you should have an inventory of all community property, an idea of how much the community estate is valued at, and a plan for dividing the property. Your plan needs to be realistic or else your spouse will not take seriously your attempts to settle the case.
Next, you need to consider the case from the perspective of your children. Within the child custody part of a divorce, there are usually a handful of component pieces like recipe, possession, visitation, child support, and other topics that will frequently arise. You can work with your mediator to come up with a visitation schedule that suits both you and your spouse to the greatest extent possible. Planning out a realistic drop-off and pickup schedule for you and your spouse is critical. Signing yourself up for a logistical schedule that simply will not work bearing in mind your work and home life balance does not make sense. The result of doing so will be that you and your spouse will find yourselves back in family court facing an enforcement case.
Child support is the next issue that people can greatly benefit from by attending mediation. One of the things that makes mediation so great is that you and your spouse have an opportunity to discuss the issues of your case directly with one another without any competing factors for your attention. Think about your daily life and how much attention you pay to outside factors like work, other family issues, social activities, and emergencies that come up from time to time. This means that your attention span is being competed with constantly when it comes to your divorce and the rest of your life.
What makes mediation so great is that for a half or full-day mediation, you can essentially turn off your phones and focus on the issues of your divorce without having your attention diverted elsewhere. Focused attention and energy are the keys to settling difficult divorce cases. When you have both of you in the same place and focus on the same information you will be surprised to learn just how frequently the parties can settle a case together. This is even in cases where there has been a fair amount of drama up to that point. The combination of focused energy and attention plus the idea that there is a deadline for settling spurs people to action.
What mediation does is it forces the two of you to look at the case from the other person’s perspective. Even if you’re not happy about doing this necessarily, the mediator will spend a fair amount of time with both of you going through what your spouse is thinking and what their attorney is communicating to the mediator. You can look at your divorce from an entirely new perspective by attending mediation and having focused energy when it comes to this subject. Again, it may result in you having to swallow some pride or put your ego to the side, but it almost certainly also means that drama will not follow you into the rest of your divorce.
Closing thoughts on reducing drama in a divorce
At a certain point, you have to acknowledge that drama is a part of most divorce cases. Whether you would like to admit it or not, there are circumstances beyond your control in a divorce that can lead to a drama-filled situation. However, once you acknowledge that drama is possible in your divorce you can begin to take steps that are intended to reduce the likelihood that drama affects your case. Communication and mediation are two simple terms that are oftentimes overlooked in a divorce. Do not assume that your divorce case is going to be overrun by drama. On the contrary, have a plan and intend to communicate well with your spouse to reduce the likelihood that drama rears its ugly head.
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