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Navigating the Maze of Texas Family Law

Feeling lost now? We can’t blame you. Family law cases are not known for being straightforward or simple. Rather, family law cases tend to be complex and difficult. That’s just how it is. We won’t tell you something that isn’t true here on the blog for the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. The truth shall set you free, as they say. Understanding what you are about to get into makes your life easier. Or at least provide you with peace of mind. 

What makes a family law case so complex? There are many reasons to list but foremost among them is the people involved. Every person in our world is unique. Therefore, each family law case is unique and is filed in a family court. Your personality, your co-parent’s shortcomings, and the preferences of your 14-year-old son. These are all complicating factors in a family law case.

There is so much at stake in a family law case that the pressure mounts to get things right the first time. All of this adds up to a situation where the pressure is on you to avoid mistakes and accomplish your goals. Easier said than done. 

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are going to walk you through a family law case today. Stick around to find out how to avoid mistakes, achieve your goals, and make it out of your case in one piece. 

Do you need a family law case?

Many people in your shoes assume that a family law case is in their future. Divorce cases are filed every day where at least one spouse is hesitant. Have you and your spouse tried to work through the issues in your marriage? If not, why not? Do you not have the communication skills? It is ok if you don’t. Most of us aren’t born as great communicators. 

In that case, have you tried to attend counseling? Marriage and family therapists are not there to try and place blame on either you or your co-parent. Rather, marriage and family therapists are there to help you try to develop better communication skills. Focusing on how to talk more respectfully and communicate more efficiently. This sounds like a reasonable goal to have, right?

Talk to your friends and family if you know they have attended counseling. Contact your health insurance provider to find out about good counselors in your area. This all adds up to a situation where you can serve your family better by figuring out if a family law case is the best direction to take your family. Exhaust every resource possible before beginning the family law process. 

Who are you doing this case for?

Once the reality of a family law case hits you it is hard to focus on anything else. That’s tough because you still have family responsibilities, work responsibilities, and a host of other issues to handle. Those areas of your life are not “paused” just because you are staring down a child custody or divorce case. 

If anything, your life goes into hyperdrive once the family law case is filed. There are only 24 hours in a day as many people have pointed out. Those hours in the day are not expanded just because you filed or had a family law case filed against you. Having to pack more activities into a shorter amount of time is something to accept in this period of your life. 

Take advantage of the time you must reflect on your life, currently. Who is this case supposed to benefit? What can you do to help that person? If this is a divorce and you have no minor children, the answer to that question is you. Any case involving minor children is intended to benefit them first and you second. Understanding this can provide you with peace of mind as you enter the family law arena.

Your interests and your child’s may not be the same

A challenging part of a family law case for you and your family involves understanding that your interests and those of your child are not always the same. What you want, in other words, is not always what is best for your child. It takes a lot of self-control to understand this. Many parents in your situation develop a mindset of their way or the highway during a case. However, when you begin to look at a child custody case as being focused on your child and not you then you make better decisions within the case.

Understanding how your child’s life is impacted by this case takes experience. Working with an experienced attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan helps you to better acclimate to your new case and focus on what is important in the case itself. You do not want to position yourself poorly and then cause your child to suffer as a result. Contact our office today to talk about how to differentiate what you want to see happen and what your child needs. 

Do not lose sight of the most important and impactful parts of your divorce if you do not have children. Keep in mind that your life may not look the same in five years as it does now. Focusing on your needs now and in the future is necessary. So many spouses look track of their future and focus only on the present. 

Do you need to serve your spouse with notice of the divorce?

Going through a divorce presents you with a unique opportunity. In most divorce cases you need to provide notice to your spouse of having filed for divorce. However, in certain situations, you can bypass the notice requirement and instead approach your case as being more amicable than not. In this situation, your spouse signs a waiver of service. 

The waiver of service informs your spouse of the filing of the divorce. It does not waive their right to receive notice of any future hearing. However, by acknowledging the waiver of service your spouse does not have to file an answer to your divorce petition. This allows your case to move forward more quickly. You all can set your case for a temporary order hearing or immediately go into mediation. 

Not every divorce will allow you to act in this way. If you believe that your spouse is going to be more contentious with you during the beginning of the divorce, then notice would be provided by a process server. However, discussing this subject with your spouse before filing the divorce will give you a good indication of the type of notice that needs to be provided to your spouse at the beginning of your case.

Child custody – examine your past to determine your future

One of the most frustrating parts of a family law case for people with children is understanding appropriate goal setting. Appropriate goal setting does not mean that you should limit yourself in the goals you set for your case. However, it does mean that you need to consider what is in the best interests of your children. As well as what role you have played in your child’s life to that point. 

For example, do you play an integral role in raising your child daily? Do you take the kids to school and the doctor? Can you tell me their best friend’s name? If not, this does not necessarily make you a bad parent. You may not know the answers to those questions because you work around the clock or have some other limitation that prevents you from being there. 

What it does mean, however, is that you are going to have a tough time arguing to a judge that you should be named as the primary conservator of your children. This is usually a role reserved for the parent who has worn those shoes before the divorce or child custody case was filed. Understanding what role, you played in the life of your child before the case was filed gives you a good idea of the role you should play after the end of your case. 

Seasons change and parenting roles do, too

This does not mean, also, that you cannot ascend to the role of primary conservator. What it does mean is that you need to focus your time and attention on the goals you can achieve now instead of the goals that are out of reach now. Taking advantage of all the time you have with your child now allows you to build momentum to modify these orders in the future. 

Have trouble envisioning the future because your present is so murky? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. We know what it means to go through a family law case and to be confused. Our goal is to provide you with information that rids you of that confusion and helps you focus your time and attention on what matters most to you. These consultations are free of charge and can set you off on the right foot immediately in your case.

Getting your case off the ground

How can you manage to get your case off the ground? You want to start a family law case but don’t know where to start. It seems so easy to hear other people talk about it but you can’t seem to get a straight answer. File a petition? What is a petition? What is the appropriate court to file your case in? This is where an attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is helpful. We excel and waste no time getting your case filed correctly. 

First, figuring out what court has jurisdiction over your case is what you need to pay attention to. Jurisdiction just means a court’s ability to hear arguments and issue rulings in your case. It can also mean that the court has personal jurisdiction to do so over the participants in a legal case. In Texas to file a divorce, you need to have resided in the state for at least the past six months. Additionally, to file for divorce in a particular county court you need to have resided there for the past 90 days, at least. 

Child custody cases are more straightforward. You need to file the child custody case in a county court where your child has lived for at least the past six months. If your child is not yet six months old then you need to file the case in a county court where a majority of your child’s life has been lived. 

Finding yourself with a tricky jurisdictional issue on your hands means hiring an attorney becomes essential for your case. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan know how to untangle the knots of a jurisdictional issue so your case can begin. 

Trouble with negotiations

One of the first issues that people tend to run into during a family law case is a problem with their opposing party. This is understandable and predictable. Family law cases are contentious and deal with the issues most important to us. That may not be what you want to hear but it is true. Expecting your case to be the exception to this rule is not realistic. Your case may be less contentious or drama-free. We hope it is. 

That said, you don’t know how to manage issues like this when they first confront you. Even after you hire an attorney negotiations are not always easy. In cases that involve children, especially, you and your co-parent dig in your heels and don’t give an inch one way or the other. This makes a very difficult atmosphere to try and accomplish anything. Two people with very different views of the same situation create an atmosphere thick with animosity. 

The temptation is that you will be stuck in a rut during the entirety of your case. Why not feel this way? From the very start, you have nothing in common with your opposing party. Now he or she is making that apparent for anyone to see. Where to go from here? Is your case stuck in the mud?

Case stuck in the mud? Try mediation

This is exactly where trying mediation comes in handy. Mediation is where you and your co-parent hire a third party to a mediator to speak into your case and help you arrive at mutually agreeable settlements within your case. We know that it is difficult to find a middle ground in a family law case. However, mediators are typically former family court judges or currently practicing family law attorneys. These people provide a unique viewpoint, challenge you on your assumptions in the case, and are expert communicators.

Recall what we talked about earlier in this blog post. Sometimes the magic lies in being able to simply communicate better with your co-parent this is not always easy to do but it is important. Mediation puts you in a place where you have one another’s undivided attention. Mediation is either a full-day or half-day affair. 

Using your time effectively in mediation means looking through the facts of your case as objectively as possible. It is not possible to make it through mediation without having your bad ideas, bad takes and bad attitude not called out. You can put up a wall with your attorney or the opposing party all you want. However, a bad attitude is exposed in mediation. If your goal is to have your opposing party’s bad attitude exposed, then mediation is the place to do it. 

Family law cases are difficult but are worth it (and sometimes are essential)

Nobody looks forward to going into a legal case. Least of all a family law case. There is an emotional tug on your heart that involves family law cases that do not come up in other legal cases. That said, for the betterment of your children, yourself, and your family this case is important. Depending upon the facts and circumstances of your case, it may be essential to your family’s future. 

When the stakes are that high you cannot go into your case without goals. Even if you are the person who had the case pushed upon you by a co-parent or spouse you need to have goals. These goals are going to operate as your “why.” The motivation for continuing in the case no matter what obstacles present themselves. Naming your motivation for pushing forward is a powerful place to be in a family law case. 

Thank you for choosing to spend part of your day with us today on the blog for the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We are honored to be able to serve our community. We look forward to you joining us again tomorrow as we continue to post relevant and interesting content about the world of Texas family law. 

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. Interested in learning more about how your family is impacted by the material in this blog post? Contact us today.

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