We have all used or heard the expression used: work smarter, not harder. This is the basis for today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Being strategic in how you approach your divorce does not mean that you have to be tricky or have the most knowledge or the best case in the world. Rather, when we talk about being strategic our attorneys and staff are telling you that it is best to approach your case intentionally and with the plan. Those intentions will allow you to take advantage of the time and opportunity presented to you in the divorce. More people struggle with divorce because of missed opportunities and mistakes than anything else. Today’s blog post will help you focus on determining the best way to approach your divorce based on the circumstances of your case.
Sometimes, you may be in a position where you simply are not able to prepare for the divorce. If you have been caught by surprise in your divorce and are completely shocked at finding your spouse is filing for divorce from you then you can count yourself among the many people who have gone through a divorce before you and have felt the same way. Being blindsided by a divorce is not a fun experience but neither is it a rare experience. Rather, if you are in a position where you need to play catch up and prepare for divorce today’s blog post is right up your alley. You’re going to help you learn what it means to go through a divorce and how to do so in a way that is conscientious of time, money, and the individual needs of your family.
When should you file for divorce?
One of the questions that our attorneys are asked with some frequency relates to when the most opportune time is to file for divorce. As in, is there a better time of the year to file for divorce when compared to others? The simple answer to this question is that you should file for divorce when you believe that it becomes necessary. The best time for you to file for divorce could be a completely different time than your neighbor or your coworker. This means you need to consider your circumstances and then work through an analysis of how to best file for divorce without running into too many roadblocks or issues along the way.
For example, one of the major stumbling blocks and problems that people tend to run into during a divorce is concerning money. To be fair, money is an issue for many families even during relatively good times. You may find that even with a budget intentional spending money can still end up being a problem for your family. As much as we do not want this to be the case with rising costs associated with almost every good and service in the economy you may not be able to avoid a situation where money may be at the root of your divorce as far as a cause.
You may have even stayed in your marriage longer because of money concerns. For some of you reading this blog post staying in the marriage may have been a necessity. For example, let’s consider a situation where you have been a stay-at-home mother and wife for almost the entirety of your marriage. This means that you have been working almost nonstop since you got married but the reality of the situation is that you have not worked outside the home since before you were married. The idea of finding your source of income after all these years can be extremely intimidating. Jumping off the dock into the cold waters of single adulthood may not have seemed like a good decision for you. As a result, you chose to delay filing for divorce even though you believed that it was going to be essential in the future.
The question is what you can do to make this transition easier when it comes to getting a divorce and going from being part of an income-earning household to one where you will be the sole provider for yourself. To decide about this you should perform an analysis that will incorporate your current circumstances, your future needs, and the ability to receive financial assistance from your spouse, even if temporary. Using the above example, if you are a stay-at-home spouse and mother of minor children you should certainly incorporate into your planning ideas surrounding how to account for spousal maintenance and child support when you are planning your negotiating steps in the divorce.
If you know that your spouse is likely to the order to pay you support during and after the divorce on top of child support, then your financial concerns may be mitigated somewhat. This could lead to a situation where you are going to be more financially secure than you would have thought previously. With that in mind, you could gain some perspective regarding how filing for divorce may be in your best interests rather than waiting. Thinking through all the different options you have as far as income and then determining the likelihood that you will be receiving financial support after the divorce can be the difference between staying in a failing marriage and taking the steps necessary to move on to a post-divorce life.
However, understanding the complexities of divorce law in Texas can be complex. You would not be expected to know all the details surrounding post-divorce spousal maintenance, child support, and a host of other issues. For that reason, working with an experienced family law attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can be just the advantage you need to be as strategic as necessary and as possible in your divorce. Being strategic in the context of a divorce means understanding where you can gain advantages and knowing what steps must be taken to position you and your children well both during and after the divorce. If you feel like gaining knowledge is important then reaching out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan should be on your short list of things to do soon.
How can you be strategic about your time in a divorce?
After talking about the money subject matter in a divorce finances are an important factor when determining when and if to file for divorce. However, money is something that is not finite. Meaning, you can potentially work more, save better, and have more resources available to you than you have now when it comes to your finances. However, the one asset or commodity that cannot be created or increased is time. Time is something that you cannot create more of. Every day has 24 hours, and it is up to all of us to use those hours as efficiently and strategically as possible.
Beyond being concerned with the money that needs to be spent to fund a divorce, it is also normal to be concerned with the amount of time it takes to involve yourself in a divorce. Many of us feel like our schedules are already pushed to the absolute limit and a divorce would seemingly only add to those concerns. It is normal to be curious about how to save time in a divorce while still giving yourself the ability to achieve whatever goals you have set out for yourself. Being strategic when it comes to your goals means that you can think about your time as an asset and then utilize whatever means are available to you to retain as much of your time as possible.
When you get right down to it, all the advice that we can give surrounding time in a divorce relates to minimizing the amount of time you have to spend on the case. We can go through any number of factors, but the ultimate reality of the situation is that nobody wants to spend more time in their divorce than is necessary. If we could snap our fingers or wave a magic wand and have the divorce completed, then that would be ideal. Short of that, it becomes necessary to look at the divorce as far as where you can save time but not sacrifice the best interests of your children and yourself. Cutting corners is not what we are talking about here. Rather, we are talking about ways to maintain positive results in your divorce or even obtain better results simply by being more efficient and strategic with our time.
We can start from the very beginning when we talk about how a divorce begins. Let’s say that you are the spouse who will be filing for divorce. Your case will begin by filing an original divorce petition. This document alerts the court to who you are, who your spouse is, and who your children are if they are minors and then tells the court what grounds you are basing your divorce on. The original divorce petition is very frequently a short document that is not all that involved or complicated. Once the divorce petition is filed you and your spouse will be able to work out amongst yourselves how to proceed with the case. Believe it or not, there are multiple ways to approach a divorce as far as how the case proceeds after the divorce petition is filed.
If you have a legitimate concern over the pace and length of a case then you should consider talking to your spouse about the divorce before you file. By removing the shock associated with filing for divorce you may be able to work with your spouse to have him choose to file a waiver of service and respond to your petition rather than an answer. A waiver of service acknowledges receipt of your divorce petition but waves their right to be personally served with the divorce papers. For many people, being served with divorce papers can feel like the opening salvo of a war or at least a battle. From there, your spouse may feel like he is being pushed to pursue a more aggressive approach in a divorce.
On the other hand, if you talk with your spouse about the divorce and he knows that it is coming he may be less likely to be as aggressive or difficult to negotiate with at the beginning of the case. With that said, your spouse can file a waiver of service in response to being served. That waiver of service would be filed with the court, which acknowledges receipt of the divorce paperwork but allows the two of you to begin negotiations sooner rather than later. This is a great advantage to all of you who want to be able to minimize the time and cost of a divorce. Rather than having to wait for your spouse to be served with divorce paperwork, you could e-mail him your petition along with the waiver of service form. This is a great way to save time in the divorce and be as strategic as possible.
By signing a waiver of service, your spouse is not waiving their right to be notified of any future court hearings or other important court dates. Rather, your spouse will be kept in the loop of all filings in the future as well as court appearances that may be needed. The true advantage is that your spouse can now start to negotiate with you rather than having to wait on a process server to successfully serve your spouse with your petition. Sometimes, there can be so much of a benefit made at the beginning of a case through diligent negotiation before you and your spouse become jaded, tired, or lethargic about the divorce process. You can take advantage of this opportunity at the beginning of your case by discussing the case with your spouse in advance and pushing for a case that is decided through negotiation rather than litigation.
How do you want issues surrounding your children to be decided?
When it comes to strategic efforts in a divorce, we can look at issues related to children as being the most important. When your divorce is all said and done, it will likely be issues related to your children that you look back on as being the most important to your case. When we as attorneys approach goal setting with our clients it becomes critically important for you as the client to focus on what the most important issues are when it comes to your children. There is no guarantee that you will have a second opportunity to engage in these types of negotiations in the future. As a result, you are better off focusing your attention now rather than assuming there will be a better chance to do so in the future if you and your spouse cannot perfectly analyze and capture all of the subject matter in this divorce case.
Whether you are talking about issues like child support, visitation, possession, or anything else concerning your kids, you need to think long and hard about how the circumstances of your children may change over time and what is best for you and them concerning their lives. This has to do with everything from how your visitation is structured, the logistics of picking up and dropping off your children, the ability of you and your co-parent to work together to make decisions about their health and education, and the list goes on and on.
You and your spouse know your circumstances with your children better than anyone. For that reason, you should focus on what those important subjects are so that you can be prepared to walk through them one by one. If your child has a medical need where you know that there are frequently uninsured medical costs that have to be paid by you and your spouse then you should be strategic about how you divide those costs between you and your spouse. Do not just pick a number or a percentage and then assume that it will all work out in the end. Rather, you should have a plan when it comes to approaching this subject so that your child is not left in a position where he or she may not be able to receive all the necessary medical care.
In closing, being strategic in a divorce means thinking through all the issues of your case and having a specific reason for negotiating a certain way or making certain decisions. The last thing you want to do is to go through a difficult divorce only to find that mistakes were made due to you not having paid close enough attention to your case.
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