A divorce case is enough to cause any person to feel a great deal of anxiety. You are considering whether or not to make a decision that will have a profound impact on your children, yourself and your spouse/partner. No matter what your particular circumstances are it is important for you to be able to understand the issues that are in play- not only in your life but in Texas family law. How will your life change as a result of your family law case having been filed? What do you need to do in order to prepare? What does a family law case even look like?
Over the course of the next week or so I am going to walk you through exactly what you need to know in order to achieve whatever results you are aiming towards in your family law case from a financial perspective . While no particular result can be guaranteed, I can almost promise you that if you are not aware of the issues at play in your case that you will be unable to achieve whatever goals you have created for yourself. What you do and do not do during your case can have long-lasting impacts.
A word on hiring the right lawyer for your divorce case
When it comes to selecting an attorney to represent you in a divorce case it is important to note that family law is not just some category of legal cases that I made up today in order to write a blog post. Rather, family law is just real estate, medical malpractice, business litigation, intellectual property or any other subdivision of the law. We have attorneys who have practiced their whole careers in family law, like those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We also have attorneys who have never set foot in a courtroom who will tell you that they are equipped to handle your family case.
Your job is to be able to interview attorneys to be able to figure out which is which. Many attorneys will tell you that they are able to handle your divorce. Simply having a law degree, however, is insufficient to be able to understand all of the subtleties of a divorce case. If you drive a certain make of car then you would likely want to seek out a mechanic who works on that sort of vehicle. The same can be said for an attorney- do not hire an attorney who has never handled a family case. Their inexperience will likely come back to haunt you.
Keeping yourself in the right frame of mind during your family case
If you have not already noticed, you are very likely not to be yourself during a family case. Your attention is being diverted to a dozen issues all at once, first of all. Your kids, your spouse, your job, your mortgage, yourself, your extended family, your legal concerns, etc. On and on I could go. My point is that you are a bit scatterbrained like now. That isn't likely to stop once your case is filed, either. Adding into this equation a variable concerning financial problems will only add to that stress.
Additionally, your emotions are being thrown around by a process that you do not have as much control over as you would like. In my years as a family attorney, I have seen good, decent people act in ways that would be unrecognizable for their family and friends. As long as you are taking care of your kids and yourself there is nothing wrong with feeling like your life is a little out of control of the moment. In many ways, that would be an accurate representation.
In the event that you do feel this way, selecting the right attorney can make a world of difference. Keep in mind that the more support you have- whether from your attorney, friends or family- the more likely you are to be able to make good decisions and not let those emotions overcome you in important parts of your life and family case.
Know where your case is in the family law case timeline
Being able to meet with potential clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan in free of charge consultations allows me to come into contact with many different sorts of people whose cases are at various points in the family law case timeline. Some folks have cases that have not yet begun. They are considering whether or not to file a case in the first place. Others have been served with a child custody or divorce lawsuit and are in need of a response. Still, others have been involved in their case for months and are exploring the possibility of hiring an attorney for the first time. It is important to know where your case is from a time management perspective because the less time spent in the courts, the less money you stand to spend on your case.
The fact that your case is not a single day in court, but is rather a multiple-month process can come as a shock to many people who are considering a family law case. Stories from friends and television/movies make family cases seem like they all come down to a one-day court appearance for all the marbles. Let's talk about why this is not true.
A divorce case or child custody case is much more akin to a process than a one-day event. While you will certainly have days that are important in your case- mediations (we will talk more about what mediation is later), hearings, a trial, etc.- your case is mostly full of days where nothing formal is going on. Many days will go by without any updates from your attorney. The reason for that is that things do not happen in your case every day. In fact, most of the time there will not be anything going on in your case. Your attorney and your opposing party’s attorney may be negotiating or figuring out what is coming next in your case, but there will seem like there is a lot of down time in your case.
My point in telling you all this is not to discourage you from filing a family law case. On the contrary, I am telling you this in order to inform you of what you are likely to encounter so that you are not unprepared. Knowing what is coming down the pike in your case should cause you to feel empowered and ready to go. You will meet setbacks, frustrating events and a lot of downtime in your case. Better to know that now than to be surprised later on.
Interview lawyers early and often- before your case even begins
Do not wait until your spouse has filed a divorce against you or until your ex-girlfriend unenrolls your kids from school and takes them to another state to be closer to the family before you decide to start speaking to an attorney. If you get the feeling in your gut that you that there are problems in your family it is worth your while to at least speak to an experienced family law attorney about them. Maybe you seek counseling with your spouse and solve those issues. But if a divorce needs to be filed it is worth your while to know how to move forward quickly if the need arises.
Most family law cases come down to a number of factors that you will be working to be decided in your favor. At the same time, your spouse will be doing the same thing. This is the tough part of a legal case- there is somebody who is actively working to stop you from doing what you would like to. I can't think of any other profession (other than athletics) where you have an opposing party constantly playing defense against you as we see in the law.
Let’s examine the factors that will be in play for your divorce or child custody case and how best you (and your attorney) can manage them.
Handling the length of time that you will be involved in a family law case
I’ve already mentioned that family law cases are not just a one trial type of event, but are rather a month's long event. You need to know that your case is going to take at least a few months. You will need to know that your work and personal life schedules will likely be impacted to an extent. You also need to know that there are likely going to be a few days where you need to take off work. The key to all of this is that it is a temporary change and life will return to normal.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to predict the length of time that your family law case will last. Most divorces take at least two months. The reason for this is that it is a state law that from the day a petition for divorce is filed until the day it can be finalized must be at least sixty days. The reason for this is that the state wants to give you and your spouse ample time to think about whether or not you actually want to get a divorce.
Your case may not last much longer than two months of there are not that many issues to sort out between you and your spouse. It will also be sped up if you and your spouse are able to negotiate and settle the issues of your case rather than having to go to contested hearings and trials. Cases that are quick have clients who are willing to meet the other halfway and attorneys who work to get those agreements drafted into orders quickly for the review and signature of their clients.
With that said, you play a huge part in how quickly your family law case can be resolved. To begin with, you need to be able to provide evidence to your attorney early on in your case that could be instrumental in resolving the case quickly. Providing organized financial documents, for instance, can help your attorney get an accurate and complete picture of the financial statuses of you and your spouse. This can lead to relatively easy discussion and negotiation on property issues related to your case.
On the other hand, there will be some information and evidence that you provide to your attorney that will not be relevant to your case. These may be text messages, Facebook posts or photos that you have been holding onto for years just in case you go through a divorce. Keep in mind that you are in charge of your case, but your attorney is the one who has the experience in presenting evidence to judges and mediators. If your attorney does not believe a piece of evidence is relevant you should ask why he or she holds that belief.
Next, it is important that you take into consideration ahead of time that your divorce will require a certain degree of time commitment. When you get off of work it is not time to slump down on the couch and feel bad for yourself. Instead, use that time to collect and organize documents that your attorney will need later on. I can tell you know that tax returns, pay stubs, 401(k) statements and bank account information will almost certainly be requested by your attorney later in your case. Do yourself a favor and collect and organize these documents now. You can save yourself money and time by doing so.
Interested in learning the other important factors in preparing for divorce from a financial perspective? Come back to our blog tomorrow
If you have questions about anything related to family law cases in Texas that we have not covered today please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys meet with people in our community just like you six days a week in free of charge consultations. These consultations are a great opportunity to learn more about your case and to have your circumstances commented upon by experienced family law attorneys. Thank you for your time and we hope that you will join us tomorrow as we continue to discuss this topic.