In some instances, spouses will come into our law office to discuss the possibility of our office representing both of them in an upcoming divorce. They have already hatched a plan to settle all of the outstanding issues in their case. All that they need now is an attorney to file the divorce and get the process started. The spouses, in their minds, would rely on that attorney for advice on particular issues and then would finish out the divorce by drawing up all the court orders that a judge would eventually sign their name to.
On the outside, this seems like a nice plan. Lawyers, popular belief holds, typically muddy up the waters and make life more difficult for spouses who are entering into a divorce. What’s more- attorneys will charge you money in order to do so. The divorce would likely take longer as a result and take up more time that could be devoted to their family or other interests. With these circumstances in mind, spouses will come in and see if this dream can be their reality. Unfortunately, I will need to steer them out of this mindset for a number of reasons that we will discuss in today’s blog post.
Conflict in interest when an attorney represents two spouses in a divorce
If you and your spouse find yourself in a situation where you agree on absolutely every issue in your divorce then you are certainly in a unique position. Even the most amicable of divorces have a few issues that need to be sorted out before the case can truly be said to be done. Even in situations where you and your spouse agree on every or almost every issue you are still technically opposing parties in your divorce. Because of this, an attorney cannot adequately represent both you and your spouse’s interests.
With all of this said, there are still options available to people in your position who would like to limit the costs associated with hiring two attorneys in a divorce. First of all, you and your spouse can forego hiring two attorneys and have you or your spouse hire an attorney while the other remains unrepresented. The other is to have neither of you hire an attorney and instead utilize the services of a divorce mediator to mediate any outstanding issues that are relevant in your case.
Mediating your case instead of hiring lawyers
If you and your spouse would like, you can hire a private mediator to intercede into your divorce case and to help you and your spouse craft a settlement on any outstanding issues in your case. This means that issues related to children and property will all be settled in mediation- or will be attempted to be settled in mediation. A mediator will typically be a practicing family law attorney him or herself. The mediator will charge you and your spouse a set amount of money for either a half day or full day mediation.
The job of the mediator is basically to act as a ping pong ball- bouncing in between you and your spouse in order to help you both come together to come up with the specific terms that will create your final orders. If you and your spouse have a general understanding of what your custody/visitation agreement will look like for your children after the divorce a mediator will help you to create something that is specific and able to stand the test of time. Likewise, all property matters will hopefully be settled in mediation. Who remains in the family home (if any), what spouse gets what share of your community estate and any other issues related to property matters will also be sorted out.
Mediations will typically occur at the office of the mediator. You will be in one room while your spouse is in the other. Sometimes spouses will agree to be in the same room and to negotiate across the table from one another. From my experience this can be a tough atmosphere to negotiate in as a glance of the eye or a curl of the lip can aggravate/frustrate the other side.
The mediated settlement agreement
A Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) is what you and your spouse will be negotiating for in mediation. The MSA contains all of the agreements that you and your spouse came up with and will act as the guide for whichever spouse ultimately ends up writing your final decree of divorce. He or she will take the MSA and turn its language into an order that a judge will be comfortable signing their name to.
Your mediator will likely walk you through each item in the MSA and will make sure you understand everything contained therein. Usually, your attorney would do this but if you don’t have one the mediator can certainly explain the points of the MSA to you. However, he or she is not able to advise you on whether or not something is a “good idea” for you to enter into with your spouse. The mediator can refer you and your spouse to an attorney who can draft an order based on the language contained in the MSA but will not represent either you or your spouse.
Although mediation costs money it is typically a small sum of money compared to the costs of hiring an attorney and going through an extended family law case. On the other hand, you will not be able to receive any advice or pointers on what you are negotiating and you will not be able to rely upon your attorney’s years of family law experience in negotiating a settlement in your divorce case.
Texas divorce cases are most likely to end in mediation. The vast majority of divorces where the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC represents one spouse end in mediation. However, if you and your spouse cannot settle in mediation your options become somewhat limited. You have already exercised the most likely route to a settlement and have failed to reach an agreement. If you find yourselves in this position it is likely that at least one of you will now move to hire an attorney to represent your interests.
One family law attorney to represent you or your spouse
The other option that you and your spouse can choose to take on is to have one of you hire an attorney and for the other spouse to be unrepresented. The represented spouse will be responsible for filing the divorce and drafting a final decree of divorce once a settlement is reached. The main advantage this spouse will have is the ability to receive advice about the divorce process from their attorney. If you are represented by an attorney you would know if entering into an agreement on a particular issue were a good idea or not. You would also know how a negotiating strategy could backfire or have unintended consequences for you years down the road.
In many situations, this is an arrangement that works out well for people. Our office has represented clients who are in basic agreement with their spouses on the terms of their divorce. The key thing to understand is that most attorneys are not looking to stir up trouble- on the contrary, these folks are more than happy to work on behalf of their client to resolve whatever issues are in play. It is usually simple, straightforward divorce cases where this method works out for both spouses in the divorce.
Questions about the different methods for completing a divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
There are more ways than one to skin a cat, and there is more than one way to get a divorce. Just because you have a friend or family member who got divorced one way doesn’t mean there aren’t a handful of other options for you and your spouse to pursue.
If you are interested in speaking to an attorney in order to begin your divorce please consider contacting the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We represent clients just like you in our community and we would be honored to do the same for you and your family. A consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is at no charge to you.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- The Dirty Trick of Using the Same Divorce Lawyer
- The Dirty Trick of the Common Law Marriage
- The Dirty Trick of Getting Your Spouse to Leave the Marital Home
- The Dirty Trick of Fake Emails and Electronic Evidence
- The Dirty Trick of the Unenforceable Visitation Order
- Dirty Divorce Trick - Turning into a Temporary “Helicopter” Parent
- The Dirty Trick of Spousal Spying in a Texas Divorce
- The Dirty Trick of Embarrassing your Spouse During a Texas Divorce
- The Dirty Trick of Damaging, Destroying, or Selling Marital Assets in Texas
- The Dirty Trick of Filing for Divorce in Another City
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring Divorce Lawyer
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 ar Spring, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A divorce lawyer in Spring TX is 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 Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, 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.