Even though the vast majority of family law cases in Texas settle before the parties ever have to reach a contested hearing, there are still some instances where you may find yourself without an agreement and instead of heading to the courthouse. This does not have to be a daunting task to take on, but it can seem like it at times. Hopefully, you will have an experienced family law attorney by your side (like those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC) to make everything seem more manageable.
No matter who is representing you, if anyone, there are some tips and pieces of advice that our attorneys have collected over the years of representing clients just like you in temporary orders hearings for both divorce and child custody cases. Today, we would like to share that information with you to understand the issues you will be facing in court and how best to handle them for the betterment of your case. If you fail to prepare, you should prepare to die, as the old saying goes. Getting ready well in advance of a hearing could mean the difference between a positive and negative result for you and your family—all of our advice centers around preparation.
Get ready early for your temporary orders hearing.
There is no substitute for diligent preparation well before the temporary orders hearing itself. While you should understand that it is unlikely that you will go to temporary orders hearing, you and your attorney should prepare yourselves for that eventuality. Approaching mediation as if you are 100% sure to settle your case is foolhardy. Get yourself ready for mediation but plan for a quick turnaround for a temporary order hearing. Fortunately, preparing for mediation will help you prepare your case for a temporary orders hearing. However, working with your attorney to collect evidence is essential because they will need to get the proof ready to be admitted into the record for a judge to consider it.
Hopefully, your attorney will have asked you detailed questions about you and your family from the outset of your relationship with them. What are your goals for your case? What issues may come up in a hearing that your attorney should know about? Remember that even the embarrassing issues you never wanted to share with anyone should be disclosed to your attorney. The worst thing that can happen is for your lawyer to be blindsided by a sticky issue immediately before or during a temporary order hearing.
Prepare with your attorney- even if it means disclosing unsavory information.
Not too long ago, I was in a position that should hammer this lesson home. A client and I were chatting before a temporary order hearing when the opposing attorney came up to us and asked to speak with me. The attorney let me know that my client's uncle (who was living with him) was a registered sex offender with a history of abusing children, in particular. As this temporary orders hearing revolved around which parent would have the right to determine the child's primary residence, this was essential information. This other attorney had some dignity about him as he shared the news with me before the hearing rather than during the hearing itself.
When I spoke to my client about this information, he confirmed that it was true. Despite our office asking clients to disclose information that could be potentially harmful to his case, this client told me that he never thought it was relevant to discuss. I let him know that, unfortunately, it was very much relevant to his case and would likely result in him losing this hearing in a significant way. We were able to settle the case for but not without some vast concessions made by our client. The reason for those concessions was that the opposing party's temporary orders knew that she had our client in a difficult position. Had he shared this information with our office, we may have been able to help him mitigate the problem by, for example, recommending that our client ask his uncle to move out of the home for the betterment of his niece and nephew. We knew nothing about the situation before the hearing; however, we could not take any action that ensured that this occurred.
Prepare with your attorney to act as a witness in your hearing.
Have you ever answered a question from an attorney before? Have you ever been to court before? Have you ever met a judge in your life? Odds are the answer to those questions is "no" for most of you reading this blog post. This isn't a bad thing, either; this is a just reality that we don't have a ton of contact with the legal system if we are raising a family, working jobs, and generally keeping our noses clean for most of us.
I can tell you that while you may feel comfortable speaking to your attorney and answering their questions, the situation will likely change once you get into a courtroom. It is an unfamiliar environment with people listening and watching how you act. Among those people is an opposing attorney whose job is to refute your statements and assertions while damaging your credibility as a witness. In a temporary orders hearing, the anxiety level is much greater than in your lawyer's office.
How can you offset the anxiety surrounding a temporary order hearing when answering questions? You and your lawyer should meet in-person to go over the questions you will be asked in your direct examination. This way, you can anticipate the sort of information that you will be asked to give. Second, your attorney can prepare you to be cross-examined by the opposing attorney. Attorneys are good at making you second guess the things you say and generally making you look less than sure of yourself when you testify. How would you react if an opposing attorney were to come at you hard and heavy with questions about specific subjects? If you prepare in advance of the hearing with your attorney, you will find out the answer to that question.
Spend some time preparing your Financial Information Sheet before the hearing
If you are involved in a divorce, you will be responsible for turning in a Financial Information Sheet before your hearing. This form will allow the judge to get a somewhat in-depth picture of what your finances look like and what your spouse's finances look like. From that picture, the judge can decide how much child support should be paid, if spousal support is justified temporarily, and who should be paying specific bills of the household. Suffice it to say that this is an essential document.
Either your attorney or the paralegal working on your case will sit down with you in a meeting and go over this form in detail. Bring financial papers that can help you to fill it out accurately. If there are significant discrepancies between your condition and your spouse's, the judge will likely ask for evidence that supports your argument. Be prepared to bring this to court with you on the day of your temporary orders hearing.
Questions about temporary orders hearings? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you have any questions about temporary orders hearings in either a child custody case or divorce, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We excel in representing clients in your situation and have done so for many years here in southeast Texas. Our office can offer you experienced attorneys, attorneys, and staff who value our relationship with our clients. We offer free consultations with our licensed family law attorneys six days per week. We would be honored to speak to you about your case and talk about our services to you and your family.