Recently I had a consult in which I was asked “If I were your sister, what divorce advice would you give me?” The question made me pause. I have given my share of divorce advice normally about the divorce process and what to expect. If one my siblings, or my friends, was getting divorced, what would I tell them?
When I considered her question, I realized that quite often, I do not give all the best divorce advice I can. I do not do this because I am saving it for my clients. If you have consult with me, you will learn that I give potential clients as much time to ask me questions even if they do no not hire me.
I think a couple of the reasons why this happens include:
- There is a large learning curve about the divorce process and depending on the consult and what we cover I do not always remember cover certain things.
- For the same reason as number one I may not cover everything except it maybe you are not ready to hear everything in that first consult. Sometimes all the information coming at you at once may feel like you are drinking from a fire hydrant.
Below is some important divorce advise you should know going forward:
My Best Texas Divorce Tips:
- Before you file for divorce make sure your marriage is over.
- Educate yourself about the Texas Divorce Process
- Seek Legal Help
- Get Legal Advice from a Texas Divorce and Family Lawyer
- Find a Texas Divorce Lawyer you are Comfortable With
- Your divorce lawyer is an advisor and guide through the process
- Your children come first
- Consider talking to a professional about the best way to help your kids through the divorce
- Sometimes you need a break from your children
- A lawyer is not a therapist
- Violence and Abuse are Never Alright
- Have a plan
- You can only control your own crazy behavior
- Make copies of all financial documents
- Safeguard Family Heirlooms and Important Items
- Check your credit report
- There are Two Ways to Divorce in Texas
- A Texas divorce costs more than just money
- Try to Settle your Case Early in the Divorce Process
- Your day in court is only fun if your enjoy gambling
- Most divorce cases settle
- If you and your spouse are able talk and negotiate on your own, it may save you time and money
- Avoid fighting when Possible
- Avoid Escalating things if Possible
- Keep your Eye on the Prize
- Emotional justice is not a Legal Remedy
- If something sounds too good to be true it probably is
- Try to Have Realistic Expectations
- You do not have to give your spouse everything
- Just because you Divorce your Spouse does not mean they are out of your Life
- Be careful who you take advice from
- Start preparing what you will tell people about your divorce now
- You may lose some of your friends
- It is time to get control of your finances and budget
- Be careful when making financial decisions
- Consider whether keeping your house is your best option
- Do Not Let Your Ex intimidate you
- You do not have to listen to your ex
- Do not bad mouth your spouse in front of the children
- Think through your decisions
- Be careful on how you treat you spouse
- Give yourself a break
- You need to take care of yourself
- You are not alone
- Try not to let your divorce consume your life
- It’s OK to Feel
- The older your children are, the more important you will want to listen to them
- You and Your Spouse Will Meet New People
- Your Alive. So Live.
- Before you file for divorce make sure your marriage is over.
It is not uncommon in marriage that one of you will threaten divorce in the heat of an argument. However, once you take steps to pursue a divorce there is trust that will be broken. Maybe, you want to do it to wake up your partner so they will show you they care. I have had clients who that was what they were trying to do and it worked for them. I have others who did it and it backfired. There are cheaper ways to try and save your marriage both financially and emotionally then by perusing a divorce.
Educate yourself about the Texas Divorce Process
Many people think because getting married was “simple” the divorce process should be as equally as simple. For a number of reasons that is not the case. One way to look at is that the process of making a child is relatively simple. However, on its best days the actual birth of a child can be a very painful, scary, and emotional process where a number of things can go wrong.
If you do not know how the Texas divorce system works, you can easily to make mistakes that you will regret that will likely cost you more to fix later then get them right the first time. For example, I have had clients come see me about changing something in a custody order and I look at their order and tell them “yes I can help you with that but you have a bigger problem. You don’t own your home.” They had managed to stumble through their divorce but never made sure they were awarded their house and of course their Ex is not going to cooperate in fixing this mistake. Something that would have cost them a few hundred dollars to get right will now cost them several thousand to fix.
Having a lawyer, on your divorce team is great and will help prevent these mistakes. However, make sure you have one that cares and will help educate you through the process. Ask your lawyer if there any books they would recommend you read. No one is going to care as much about your case as you will.
Seek Legal Help
Trying to navigate the divorce process by yourself is penny wise and pound foolish. Napoleon Hill the author of the bestselling book, “Think and Grow Rich” encourages people seeking success to develop a mastermind group. He said that “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.”
George S. Clason the author of “The Richest Man in Babylon” talks about seeking the advice on different things from people who know about that thing. For example, if you wanted to know about investing in bricks you would talk to a brick maker not a Plummer.
So when you need legal advice you should seek the advice of a legal professional. If you are taking your own legal advice it is like asking a Plummer about bricks.
Get Legal Advice from Texas Divorce and Family Lawyer
This goes along with some of my earlier suggestions. If you have ignored those suggestions and not hired an attorney. You can still at least seek out an attorney to give you advice along the way and to review any documents.
Usually you will pay more on an hourly basis for doing things this way. Also, any attorney that you hire on a piecemeal basis will not have the overall perspective of your case so there advice may not be as good as if they had been representing you from start to finish.
One comparison I have heard about trying to represent yourself through a Texas divorce without getting legal advice is that it is like trying to get to Disneyworld using a map of China. It is hard to get where you need to go if you do not know where you are going and have the wrong map.
Find a Texas Divorce Lawyer you are Comfortable With
I have discussed this issue previously in my blog article “6 Tips for Getting a Free Divorce Consultation.” Is that in addition to looking for an attorney that has experience in divorce is that you should find one that you are comfortable with and trust.
Some people have it in their heads that they need a “bulldog,” or an attorney with 50-years of experience. I believe it is more important to have an attorney that is compatible with you who will listen to you. If you are telling your attorney one thing and they are not listening to you and focusing on what is important to you will be needing to divorce you attorney not just your spouse.
Your divorce lawyer is an advisor and guide through the process
Your divorce attorney is an advisor and guide through the divorce process. However, no matter you will still need to participate in the process and make decisions regarding finances and your children.
Your children come first
Yes, everyone says they will do that. But very few people actually do. Be one of those who is a good enough parent, and a mature enough person, to really do what is best for the kids, even if it hurts you.
Divorce can an emotional, stressful, and scary time. When you have kids a lot of times those things are amplified. It is important to realize that your children may be experiencing some of those same emotions, stress, and fear. Below are some tips to try and help your children through the divorce:
- Do not criticize your ex in front of your children. Your children know they are partly mom and dad. By criticizing the other parent often a child will internalize feel your words as a criticism of themselves.
- Do not use your children as messengers between you and your ex. The courts frown on this practice. Sometimes such practices make a child feel caught between their parents and that they must make a choice.
- Let your children know that they are loved and the divorce is not their fault.
- Encourage your children to have a relationship with the other parent.
- Keep your children's best interest in mind during the divorce.
Consider talking to a professional about the best way to help your kids through the divorce
It may be helpful for you to talk to a psychologist or other professional on:
- how to break the news of your divorce to your
- They may be able to give you the tools to help your kids adjust to the divorce, and
- make you aware of signs you should look for to alert you that your children are not handling the divorce well.
Sometimes you need a break from your children
Sometimes my clients are concerned because after the divorce, they will have to share their time with the children with the other parent.
However, after your divorce one of the things my clients realize is that when their children are with them they are only be with them. They no longer have their spouse with them to help watch the children.
After your divorce, the children’s time with their other parent is your chance for break to reboot and recharge. You can use that time to do things you might otherwise find difficult when you have the children.
A lawyer is not a therapist
Lawyers receive an extensive education in the law. That education does not equip them with providing therapy. Therapists are trained to deal with emotions. Generally when Lawyers are listening to tell them about how you feel, or the argument you got into last night they are waiting for you to get to the legally relevant facts not because they are equipped to help you deal with your emotions. That is what therapists are for. The money you spend telling your divorce lawyer those things can often be better seeking that sort of help from the proper professional. Most therapists are cheaper than divorce lawyers.
Violence and Abuse are Never Alright
If you are in abusive relationship where your spouse is hurting, you or your children you need to leave. Get out and get a lawyer. Your number one priority is to protect yourself and your children. If you and your children are not safe nothing else matters.
Have a plan
There is a saying that if you do not have a plan for yourself. Others will plan for you. If you do not know what you want, then it is hard to make plan on how to get it. If you know what you want, then we can help you plan for getting it. This is not a guarantee of an outcome but it does improve your odds.
You can only control your own crazy behavior
A long time ago I had a professor tell me something that I remember to this day. “You cannot control other people’s crazy behavior. You can only control your own crazy behavior.” This advice I think is applicable to the divorce process. You cannot control your spouse and their decisions or behaviors. You can only control what you will do.
Make copies of all financial documents
I have discussed making copies of financial documents in other blog articles I have written “Steps to Take Before Moving Out of the Marital Residence During a Divorce” and 6 Tips - On How to prepare for a Texas Divorce.”
It is not uncommon during a divorce for financial documents to go missing. The most prudent thing you can do is to make copies of all the financial documents to protect yourself from this happening.
Safeguard Family Heirlooms and Important Items
Before filing for a divorce or as quickly as you can you will want to safeguard things that money cannot replace and other important items. Things such as:
- Family Heirlooms
I have had more than one client or potential client tell me that their spouse would never be so petty as destroy or hide things. I am sorry to report that pictures have been destroyed, family heirlooms sold, and safes have been emptied. As Benjamin Franklin once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Check your credit report
Running a credit report serves a couple of purposes including:
- remind you of your debts
- it will give you a heads up in case your spouse or someone else is using your credit for an unauthorized purpose. Yours would not be the first time I have represented a client who found out they were listed on debts they never knew about.
There are Two Ways to Divorce in Texas
In Texas, you can either divorce by agreement or by Trial. If you can agree the soonest you can divorce is 61 days. If you cannot agree then it could take a year more to get to trial. No matter how much you want your divorce if you and your ex are unable to agree then it is going to take a trial and Judge to get you divorced.
You will ultimately be divorced but a divorce only goes as fast as the slowest person and the process allows.
A Texas divorce costs more than just money
During the divorce process, you want to be doing a cost benefit analysis. For example, I once represented a wife who was adamant that she wanted a kid’s bed during mediation neither she nor her husband could agree on who got the best. The bed only cost $200. The argument of the bed went on for a few hours. If you did the math on how much she was paying me, her husband was paying his lawyer, and what they were both paying the mediator. They could have both purchased the bed multiple times.
Of course, neither party wants to get taken advantage of in a divorce. But insisting that you get dollar that you are “due” or that you need to get something because of the principle of the matter is not always the prudent course of action.
The time, emotional, and financial toll it will take on you and your children is often not worth the cost. The time you may have devote to the divorce may impact your job, your health and your relationship with your children.
Try to Settle your Case Early in the Divorce Process
A divorce can be a long and costly process. If you can settle your divorce early through mediation or some alternative dispute process this can save you money, time, and aggravation. This is not always process but often the wisest course of action when available.
Your day in court is only fun if your enjoy gambling
Everybody thinks they want their day in court and that they will be victorious like in the movies. However, at some point they realize they are asking a stranger to make decisions for them and this stranger knows nothing about their life or their children, and who will only spend a few hours hearing about the facts of their case.
Most divorce cases settle
Only a small percentage of their cases go to trial. As with many other divorce participants the closer the cases gets to trial the more pressure you experience to make a deal. This is because:
- You will be spending more and more money the close the case gets to trial
- There is uncertainty going to trial
- There is certainty on what you are getting when you settle
- Settling alleviates some of the financial bleeding
If you and your spouse are able talk and negotiate on your own, it may save you time and money
The Texas divorce process can be very slow. There are two ways to divorce in Texas either by agreement or by going to trial. A trial can be year or more away.
Your divorce lawyer charges you by the hour. If you have the makings of an agreement worked out between you and your spouse, then this can save you some time and money. Your lawyer will still want to add language to make the agreement enforceable but that will take a lot less time then working out an agreement from scratch.
Avoid fighting when Possible
Fighting during a divorce case will cost you more time, money, and emotional energy than you could ever imagine possible. This is true whether you have property, money, or children to fight over.
I have had cases where by the time it was over both spouses had run up legal bills each that were over $20,000. For example:
- A case where there was no property and the only thing that the couple was fighting over was the amount of visitation.
- A case where the only thing that was disputed was which car they were going to get again over $20,000 each by the time the case was over.
- A case involving a young couple both still in college where the only thing between the was a child. The wife wanted to move to San Antonio where she had family. The Husband wanted her to stay in Houston so he could have visitation.
Unless your spouse is completely unreasonable and will not settle until they have punished you it is worth trying to reach an agreement.
Avoid Escalating things if Possible
People are often not at their best during adivorce. Sometimes I see people at their worst in which they would rather spend money on lawyers then let their spouse get anything. I try and talk people off this ledge because it would be very easy for that to happen.
Your divorce is going to be expensive even without escalating things. It will be easier for you to rebuild if there is something left after the divorce. You do not want to let emotion control you during the divorce process and lead you to do things you will regret later. Like I said towards the beginning of this article keep your children’s best interest in mind while you are making decisions.
Keep your Eye on the Prize
There are lots of opportunities to chase rabbit trails during the divorce process. You are better served by figuring out what matters the most to you in your divorce and what you are legally able to obtain.
For example, I have had clients who was obsesses with wanting to find out if his wife was having an affair. The couple did not have any property to speak of so it would not help in court to get a greater share of the property knowing one way or the other. However, he could spend a lot of money on investigators and lawyers to find out something that would not get him any legal benefit.
Emotional justice is not a Legal Remedy
A Texas divorce is about three things 1) The Divorce 2) Property and Debts, and 3) Your children. As I discussed above in Keep Your Eye on the Prize there may be other things you would like to prove in court, a court room is an expensive place to fight and there only certain legal remedies available to you in court.
There are many things you want to tell a judge to let the judge know your ex is not a nice person. However, unless it has some relevance to case then it will not get discussed in court.
If something sounds too good to be true it probably is
Some lawyers will promise you more than they can deliver. In Texas the legal standard for dividing up property is a Just and right division. That means no one walks away with everything and the other spouse with nothing. Be careful of a lawyer who fires you up to spend all your money. Often times these lawyers dump you when you run out of money.
Try to Have Realistic Expectations
- takes longer
- cost more than you ever imagined
- is more emotional, frustrating, and more difficult than you want.
If you keep that in mind from the beginning it may help you when these issues arise.
You do not have to give your spouse everything
I sometimes represent spouses who just want to be out of the relationship and have the attitude they are will to give their spouse everything just to make it happen. Sometimes this is true from the beginning sometimes it is because a divorce often takes longer than people imagined.
Often the longer a divorce takes, the more someone is ready for it to be over. Maybe you do not need the money now but if down the road, you do you may regret your decision.
Just because you Divorce your Spouse does not mean they are out of your Life
If you and your ex share children together you will likely be dealing with each other long into the future. There will still be:
- Parent teacher conferences
- Educational decisions
- Medical decisions
- Pick up and drop offs from each other
- Weddings and
- Grandchildren and more
The more difficult the divorce the more awkward and unpleasant all of those things will be going forward.
Be careful who you take advice from
I would recommend caution taking divorce advice from your friends, your family, neighbors, or strangers who have gone through a divorce.
These people are divorce experts. Everyone’s divorce is different involving different facts and different people. These people may make a great support system for you. However, just because your buddy may have been able to reach “X” agreement with their X does not mean you will be able as well. You are not married to your buddy’s Ex.
Start preparing what you will tell People about your divorce now
You may find talking about your divorce with your friends, family, and business associates to be difficult. You may find it helpful to figure out what you tell people about your situation or how you will respond to questions such as:
- How are you?
- What is happing?
- How is your spouse?
You may lose some of your friends
It is not uncommon for some people will take sides in a divorce. You may find that certain people avoid you or do not take your calls. Unfortunately thedivorce process will show you who your true friends are.
It is time to get control of your finances and budget
If you do not understand your finances now is the time to learn. If you need help you may want to seek the help of a financial advisor.
Be careful when making financial decisions
It is important to make careful making financial decisions during your divorce. They may have repercussions long into your future. Generally, it is better to make these decisions logically. However, it is ok you giving a little more the you should if that’s what you want to do. As I mentioned earlier just because you no longer want to be with someone does not mean you stop caring for that person.
Consider whether keeping your house is your best option
Many of my clients think they want to keep the house, for:
- The children
- Sentimental reasons or
- They do not want their ex to get the house
However, there have been times when my clients regretted getting the house. Some of the reasons this happened include:
- The could not find the money to buy their spouse out
- They could not afford to make the payments on their own
- The maintenance on the house turned to be more than they bargained for on their own
In these situations, they realized they would be better off living in a new place where they would no longer be stressed out all the time about money.
Do Not Let Your Ex intimidate you
Often, I find that my clients feel threatened by things their ex will tell them. Their ex may say things like:
- I will destroy you
- You are not going to get anything from the divorce
- I am going to take your children from you and you will never see them again
Most of the time after I talk with my clients or potential clients about what Texas law really says they tell me “I am so glad I talked with you. I feel so much better.”
When you are going through a divorce it is easy to get caught up in the drama and mind games your ex may be playing. It is much better to talk to a divorce lawyer and find out what your options are.
You do not have to listen to your ex
As I mentioned earlier it is not uncommon for an ex to tell you all sorts of trash talk such as you are never going to get a dime in the divorce or that you are a home-wrecker. If your spouse cannot talk with civilly hang up the phone, don’t respond to text messages, or block their phone number. If you are in the same room, then leave. This sort of engagement is not productive.
Do not bad mouth your spouse in front of the children
There are many reasons to not bad mouth your spouse in front the children or allow others to bad mouth your ex in front of the children. Those reasons include:
- Your children love your spouse and share your spouse’s DNA when you bad mouth the other parent they feel like your badmouthing them as well.
- The courts expect both parents to foster a relationship with the other parent. If you are not doing this then a court can hold that against you.
- It generally goes badly for parents in court if a court finds out that you are damaging the other parent’s relationship with the children.
Think through your decisions
Some decisions you may have to make quickly. However, if you can avoid being rushed and take the time you need to make a good decision. Do not let your spouse is pressure you or rush you into anything. This is your life and allow yourself time to take careful deliberate consideration.
Be careful on how you treat you spouse
If you give your spouse a hard time, bad mouth them, provoke them, or pressure your spouse to make a quick decision they may do something to deliberately delay or inconvenience you. In most circumstances, it is easier to sweettalk someone into making a decision you want then it is by aggressive behavior. One way I have heard it put is people like to buy they do not like to be sold.
Give yourself a break
You may feel like your life is out of control and that you are not at your best. That is ok. No one is perfect and divorce is not easy. You are not the only one who has had a marriage that did not work out. Focus on getting through the process and give yourself the same sort of break and support you would give your child.
You need to take care of yourself
Some people handle the process of divorce better than others. Somethings you should make sure you do include getting enough sleep and eating well. Do not make a hard process worse by letting your health go.
If you do not take care of yourself because of lack of sleep and bad eating habits it will make it harder for you to make important life altering decisions.
You are not alone
Some people feel because their marriage did not work out they are failure. As I mentioned earlier you are not the only one whose marriage did not work out and you will not be the last. If your marriage was mistake or you made mistakes in your marriage that is ok. It is part of the human experience. I think the important thing is to learn from our mistakes and try and not repeat them.
Try not to let your divorce consume your life
I have witnessed clients who let their divorce be a stepping stone to the next part of their lives. I have also had clients who allow the divorce and their ex consume them. They and their ex then spent years divorcing, after the divorce sued each other, and then kept taking each other back to court for trivial matters relating to their children.
It is OK to Feel
The divorce is real and is happening it is OK to feel what your feeling whether it is:
You may still care about your ex. Just because you do not like them or want to be with them anymore does not mean you stop caring.
The older your children are, the more important you will want to listen to them
The degree to which children should be involved is controversial. Most Texas courts discourage any involvement of children in proceedings. Generally younger children do not have much of a voice in thedivorce process.
However, a Judge must meet with a child once the child is 12 or older if a parent requests. While not necessarily the deciding factor a child’s, preference can sometimes make the difference.
You and Your Spouse Will Meet New People
During your divorce, or afterwards you will move on and meet new people. Often when this happens either you or your ex may have a visceral reaction. This may mean one of you wants to drag out the divorce or take the other person back to court afterwards for some reason. Unless there is a really good reason such as the new person is pedophile do not do this. Move on.
Your Alive. So Live.
An author named Neil Gaiman wrote something I like about dealing with the loss “…You grieve. Then you continue with your life. And at times the fact of her absence will hit you like a blow to the chest, and you will weep. But this will happen less and less as time goes on… You are alive. So live”
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- 12 Texas Custody & Conservatorship Battle Tips
- 8 Tips for Reducing the Cost of a Divorce in Texas
- 6 Tips for Getting a Free Divorce Consultation
- 6 Tips - On How to prepare for a Texas Divorce
- 3 Tips on Things You Shouldn't Do in a Texas Divorce
- 15 Quick Tips Regarding Filing for Divorce in Texas
- 6 Tips - On How to prepare for a Texas Divorce
- Roadmap of Basic Divorce Procedure in Texas
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- 6 Mistakes that can Destroy Your Texas Divorce Case
- 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
- Does it Matter who Files First in a Texas Divorce?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.