What makes a divorce such an interesting process is that it combines the formalities of a full-fledged legal case, and the personal aspects associated with the relationship between you, your spouse and your children. Combine all of these issues together with time crunches, stress, anxiety and a lot of unknown factors and you have a recipe for a contentious, yet hopefully productive process.
The wide array of issues that are relevant in your divorce will come into focus early and often in your divorce case. What do you want to see accomplished in regard to custody of your children? Are you concerned about supporting yourself and your children after the divorce? What assets or debts are relevant to your case and will need to be divided up between you and your spouse? These are just the tip of the iceberg questions to be dealt with in conjunction with your divorce.
Once you have identified the issues that are relevant to your case and considered what your goals are, the next step is identifying what your legal rights and duties are in relation to your divorce, your spouse and your children. This can be the toughest step in the process because the law in Texas that covers divorce is complex and outside of most people’s expertise or knowledge.
That is where hiring an experienced family law attorney comes into play. One of the most important decisions in conjunction with your divorce will be deciding upon an attorney to walk with and guide you during your case. Selecting the wrong attorney can mean increased costs, time and a failure to achieve the goals that you have set out for yourself and your family.
With that said, the goals of the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC are to educate our clients as to their rights and to answer their questions in relation to their rights. In today’s blog post, we will discuss the different concerns you may have as you begin to learn about divorces in Texas. In doing so, we will go over a handful of the questions that you ought to be concerned with as you meet with and eventually hire an attorney.
What will happen to your property in a divorce?
Texas is what is known as a community property state. This means that there is a presumption in place that all property owned by you and your spouse at the time of your divorce is jointly owned by the community. This property is to be divided up in your case in some form or fashion, depending on what you and your spouse agree to in mediation. In the alternative, if you and your spouse cannot settle your property issues outside of a court a judge will divide community property in a just and equitable fashion. This means that the judge will take into account the circumstances of your case as well as either spouse’s fault in the breakup of the marriage and will divide the property thusly.
Retirement accounts, business interests, your home, bank accounts and debts are all relevant when discussing the division of community property in your divorce. Many people believe that community property will be divided up 50/50 in their divorce. This may or may not be true, however. Just and equitable means that a judge will take a lot of different factors into consideration when dividing up your community estate.
The dividing up of community property can be one of the most important aspects of your divorce. How you and your spouse divide up the property or how a judge does so will determine the outcome of a handful of your financial goals associated with your divorce.
How long will your divorce take?
This is probably the first question that most people ask about a potential divorce case. Divorces in Texas take a minimum of sixty days. The legislature has made this a law in order to provide people like you and your spouse with a cooling off period. In other words, the legislature wants you to take some time to figure out if you actually want to get a divorce, or if you filed out of a momentary bout of anger or frustration.
Now that we have covered shortest period of time that your divorce can last, let’s consider how long your divorce is likely to take. Many divorces settle outside of court. In fact, the vast majority of divorces do. You and your spouse will be given ample opportunity to discuss the case between yourselves, your lawyers and in mediation. In fact, most courts in Texas will require that you mediate your case at least once prior to seeing a judge for a contested trial.
If you and your spouse cannot agree to which of you your child will be residing with primarily after the divorce or have a complex property division to attend to it is more likely that your case will be on the longer end of things than on the shorter. The more significant the disagreements between you and your spouse, the more likely it is that you will require more time to discuss and negotiate the terms of your divorce.
This should tell you a couple things: one, if you and your spouse have legitimate concerns with certain issues related to your divorce then you may find that going to a trial is a likelihood. Most people going through a divorce are not in this position, however. You and your spouse are likely to find that the issues that you face will not be resolved in a better manner in a courtroom than in negotiation with one another.
Is your divorce truly uncontested?
Many people who come in to discuss their divorce situation with me will tell me that their case is “uncontested.” I think each person has their own definition of what uncontested means, to be perfectly honest. In a true, uncontested divorce you and your spouse will have come to a resolution on all issues associated with your divorce prior to filing. That means all property, child custody and other issues must have been sorted out in full.
Invariably, when I ask more questions of the person who is convinced they have an uncontested divorce it becomes apparent that their divorce is not actually uncontested. It may be close, but it is not truly uncontested. Even if you have just a few issues to sort out with your spouse it is wise to hire an attorney to help you negotiate the terms of your settlement and to draft the final paperwork that covers your settlement.
Hiring an attorney does not mean that your uncontested or nearly uncontested divorce will suddenly become contested. Believe it or not- a family law attorney will be happy to help you bridge whatever gap is apparent between you and your spouse in order to avoid a long, protracted divorce case. Often times there are solutions that are staring you in the face but due to your inexperience in divorce they will not be as apparent to you as they are to your attorney.
Ultimately you will have the final say in anything related to your divorce- whether you hire an attorney or not. The benefit of having an attorney by your side is that you are able to gain a wider and deeper perspective into the divorce process while ensuring that your rights are protected. Finally, an attorney can help you manage your divorce case in a cost-efficient manner as well. This is true whether or not you have a uncontested divorce on your hands.
More important questions to ask in regard to divorce will be discussed in tomorrow’s blog post
I hope that the subject matter we have covered today has been interesting and relevant to your circumstances. If you have any questions about what you’ve read today or just want some clarification on a point or two, please consider contacting the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC today. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations in our office six days a week where your questions can be addressed and answered.