We all want to avoid mistakes in life. Hindsight is 20/20 as the old saying goes and it wouldn’t hurt to be able to have some perspective on your divorce before you actually head into the case. Better to have some perspective as you begin rather than to gain it all along the way collecting bumps and bruises.
The question is: how do you do that? We all want knowledge that can help us avoid mistakes but none of us want to actually have to go through the pain of learning those lessons the hard way. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will discuss a few of the bigger mistakes that we want to make sure you are aware of as we head into the long, hot summer of Southeast Texas.
If your attorney asks for information do not withhold anything
The most important person in your divorce case besides you and your spouse is your attorney. He or she will the person to guide you through the process, give you advice that can help you and your family and help you to navigate through all of the noise along the way. Did you know that the shortest period of time that you can expect your divorce to last is sixty days? That means it is likely that for months and months you will be going through stressful episodes, worry and situations that you never thought you would find yourself in over and over. Your attorney is there to help you manage your case and your emotions in this difficult time.
Part of that process is helping your attorney have all of the information that he or she needs to help you. If you cannot help your attorney then you are doing nothing to help yourself and your family. Remember that your attorney cannot disclose information to anyone without your permission. The information you are being asked for is not to entertain your lawyer or to simply fill up the time. Your attorney needs information to complete his or her preparation for hearings and mediation as well as to build a case should yours not settle and a trial become necessary.
In the end, you need to be able to trust your attorney without reservation. If you do, respond immediately to requests for information from your attorney. Work with his or her staff on supplying whatever it is that is being asked of you. If you are wondering whether or not something is relevant- provide the information and let your lawyer make that determination. Now is not the time to become embarrassed about something or to think you know better than your attorney. Submit yourself to the process, listen and ask questions of your attorney.
Don’t take a backseat to anyone when it comes to being involved in your case
There is no doubt that a knowledgeable client is the best kind of client an attorney can have. This does not mean that you must have gone to law school or have specific knowledge of divorce laws and practices. Rather, I mean that you simply have to show an interest in the subject matter of your case and a willingness to participate in the process. If you defer to your attorney, are not current on what is happening in your case and refuse to learn your attorney will have a tough time advocating for you.
Do not assume that because you have hired an attorney it is now time to put your feet up on the dashboard and let your attorney drive the racecar. In fact, you are in a position where you are going to be expected to drive the racecar. It’s your racecar, after all. Your attorney is there to sit in the backseat and tell you if you are about to hit a wall or a stray tire on the racetrack. You are responsible for making decisions in your case- not your attorney.
What does this all mean? It means asking questions. It means initiating conversation with your attorney on weeks where “nothing is going on.” Trust me- things are going on in your case at all times. Whether it is preparing for mediation or getting responses to discovery requests ready, something is happening in your case. Don’t take your attorney’s lack of communication to mean nothing is happening. Contact him or her once a week to see what is going on. Ask questions if you are told things that you do not understand. This is what it means to take an active and invested role in your divorce case.
Tone down your expectations before you wind up in a bad place
Most divorces result in a standard possession order for the non-primary parent, a standard amount of child support to be paid and personal property/debts/home equity being split somewhere close to 50/50. Yours may the divorce that proves this rule to be false, but it isn’t likely. The other thing to keep in mind is this: even if you feel like your spouse “owes” you spousal support or an expanded amount of child support you need to be realistic about what is available to you as far as money. If your spouse isn’t pulling in a high salary a judge cannot invent new ways to make him or her pay you.
Keep your expectations in check by asking your attorney what is realistic as far as goals. Don’t listen to your friends and neighbors opinions. They are telling you things from their limited knowledge of divorce as well as their biased views of your case. They are telling you things that you want to hear. Your attorney’s job is to tell you the things that you need to hear in order to procedure positive results. Learn what your options are and then apply those options to your particular circumstances. What you will be left with is a solid understanding of your case and a better idea about what to expect as far as results are concerned.
Looking at your divorce as a spouse rather than a business person
Your divorce, whether you want to think about it this way or not, is a business transaction. You are negotiating with your spouse on how to divide up a number of different aspects of your life. Some (children) are more important than others (silverware). However, if you let your emotions get the best of you and allow them to dictate your actions you will be in a bad position. Approach each issue from as a business person- collected, calm and rational. I know this is easier said than done, but remember that you will have an attorney by your side to help guide you and moderate your emotions to a certain extent.
Now, I am not telling you to approach issues having to do with your kids as a business transaction. As a father myself, I would tell you that you’re nuts if you told me to look at anything regarding my kids as just another point to negotiate or contemplate. However, you still need to consider how your actions and negotiating positions will impact you down the road.
Ultimately you need to be comfortable with asking your attorney questions in order to learn just how a position that you are considering can help or hurt you in your case. Some subjects hit a nerve with clients and your children will definitely be one. All the more important to try to anticipate what your spouse’s tactics and positions are likely to be so you can combat them with rationality.
Questions on what to anticipate in your divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
The advice that we have presented for you today is intended for a general audience. Your situation may vary from some aspects of this advice so it is recommended that you follow up with an attorney should you have any specific questions.
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC are experienced in family law and take seriously the responsibility of representing our clients. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week. Please contact us with any questions you may have on this subject or any other in family law.