Sometimes when we go through difficult times in our lives, we get the idea that there is nobody else out there who understands what we are going through. It is in this isolation that we withdraw from the people and from the resources that are available to us that may be able to provide some help in guiding our future actions. What can you do to ensure that you do not have the same problem as you begin to meet the challenge of a divorce?
A lot of times when you feel isolated, stuck on your own and overwhelmed you can be made to feel even worse when someone comes to you with the best of intentions but with advice that only adds to your worry. If you ask someone for advice on how to get a divorce in Texas but they come to you with extremely case-specific, detailed advice on issues you are not too clear on, that can be extremely harmful to your emotional and mental state.
With all of that said, I would like to take the opportunity to write down my thoughts on what you can do to put yourself in the best position possible to experience a successful divorce. You will be able to find many, many blog posts on our website that detail specific advice on particular issues like child support, family violence, spousal maintenance, and child custody. Our blog post today should be helpful when the advice is applied to all of those areas, but I did not set out to write this post to answer every question you have about divorces in Texas.
Rather, this blog post is a great one to pay attention to at the beginning of your case. When you are feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and you are needing to take in information like drinking water from a firehose, slow down and take a look at today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We will show you what a good roadmap for your divorce looks like as what as doing what successful persons do and avoiding what successful people do not do.
You will not be yourself during your divorce
The reality of your divorce is that you will not be yourself during the case. This may sound weird or even ominous, at first. If you’re like most people, you consider yourself to be a sane, reasonable person. For me to say that you are not going to be yourself during the divorce is likely a shock to you to some extent. However, stick with me on why I tell you this and I bet that you will understand my reasoning a little better.
Stress makes us say and do things that we ordinarily may not. We begin to feel threatened in the most important areas of our life during a divorce and our reaction to feeling threatened may be surprising. For example, if you are having to deal with leaving the home and your kids to move into an apartment, the thought of just taking your kids out of school and moving them to another place with you may have crossed your mind. I have seen parents go to great lengths to preserve their relationship with their kids. This includes parents who have done things that violate court orders and ordinary ideas about boundaries and right/wrong.
My point is that when the chips are down and you are left grasping for the things that are the most important to you during a divorce, you can do things that ordinarily you may never consider. Removing your kids from school, harming the property of your spouse, going on Facebook to say nasty things about your spouse's attorney or a judge may cause you to cringe right now. However, I have seen people just like you do the above actions during a divorce.
Be aware that if you have children, own a business, have significant wealth or are disabled these are situations that can lead to an even more stressful than average divorce. The stakes, as it were, are higher for you than for most others going through a divorce. As such, be sure to watch yourself and think twice before you say or do anything during a divorce. Doing so can save you a lot of regrets, both short and long term, as well as assisting in preserving the strengths of your case.
The bottom line is that you need to understand that just because something feels good or satisfying today does not mean that it will feel the same way tomorrow, or next week. Saying something at the moment can cause you to feel like you got your emotional pound of flesh from the recipient of your comment. However, if the person to whom you were speaking is a judge or other person who plays a role in your case the result could be disastrous for you.
Using the law to your advantage: know what you’re going to do before you do it
Faking it until you make it is something, we hear from people all the time. What it is referring to is acting like you know what you're doing until you have the time to learn what it is you should be doing. When we start a new job, it could be that it takes some time for us to learn to do that job properly. Until that time, we "fake it ‘til we make it." Hopefully, nobody notices the less than stellar performance of your job until then.
We see in divorce cases where a person does not have a firm game plan from the start and then runs into problems during the case itself. Imagine a football coach who doesn't know what plays he wants to run against his opponent in a big game. Do you think the unprepared team stands a chance in that game? Likely the answer is, no. Let's run through some steps you should take to successfully manage your Texas divorce.
The first and maybe most important step you can take towards achieving a fair and favorable result in your divorce case would be to hire a family law attorney to represent you. Lots of attorneys out there will tell you that they are equipped to handle your divorce. These attorneys are known as “general practice” attorneys. They do not focus on one area of the law, but rather are willing to represent clients in a wide range of cases.
There is nothing unethical or wrong about this. However, if I am going through a divorce I want someone who has been there before rather than someone who thinks that they can “fake it ‘til they make it.” As I’m sure you could imagine, family law cases have many intricacies to them that require an experienced hand to achieve the best results. Do not head into your divorce without having someone to assist you to handle divorces.
You need to look at the case from the perspective of who will be representing your spouse, as well. Odds are your spouse will have hired a family law attorney to represent him or her. Your attorney is tasked with meeting the challenge of engaging in a legal battle with this person. The battle does not have to be a bloody one, but it certainly can turn out that way. Do not go into battle with one of your arms tied behind your back.
A family law attorney knows how to respond to documents filed by your spouse promptly. A family law attorney will know how to layout arguments for your arguments in court documents. Organizing your financial information, presenting offers in mediation and just handling the day to day matters of your case are all done most effectively with an experienced family law attorney at your side.
The last point I will make on this subject is that you should not assume that your attorney has the requisite experience needed before hiring him or her. You are interviewing attorneys before selecting one. Be prepared to act questions of that attorney before committing to paying him or her money.
For instance, you should ask the attorney if he or she has handled any divorces like yours before. Ask about the facts of that case, how it was handled and what he or she did to assist their client. The attorney should be prepared to mention issues that were sorted out and how he or she impacted the case positively. Simply having a history of getting clients through the door is not enough, in and of itself, to inspire you to have confidence.
Do not hide things from your attorney
You and your attorney will share a special bond for the duration of your divorce. The attorney-client relationship is one that is sacred in our legal system. Your attorney will be entrusted to keep any information you provide him or her with between the two of you. You can give him or her permission to disclose that information, of course, but you can tell your attorney pretty much anything and they will have to keep it a secret.
With that said, you need to be honest with your attorney about every area of your case. I don't mean that you need to tell him or her everything you have ever done in your life, but if you think it may be somewhat relevant to your divorce you need to tell your attorney. The downside to this is that you will likely need to expose details about your life that you are not proud of. We have all done things as parents or as spouses that we are not that proud of. Do not hide things from your attorney, however. He or she is not here to judge you but to help you.
The last thing you want to do is hide something from your attorney that is crucial to your case. A couple of years ago, I had a client who was in his early twenties. He was living at home with his parents and was engaged in a child custody case. This client was attempting to win primary custody of his children after the kids’ mom took the kids to another state without consulting our client. The mom had a history of acting erratically and was not in a strong position to care for the kids.
Going into our temporary orders hearing, I felt like we were in a strong position to get the kids home to Texas and get our client the custody set up that he wanted. However, right before we went into the courtroom the opposing attorney let me know that our client was not only residing with his parents but with an uncle who was a registered sex offender. This, as I’m sure you could imagine, was a huge shock to me.
Instead of going into temporary orders hearing with the facts and arguments needed to win the hearing, we left with a temporary agreement for temporary orders that we negotiated on the steps of the courtroom. I did not want to go into that hearing, basically asking the judge to appoint him managing conservator of children so that they could live with a sex offender.
I asked our client why he hadn't told me about that. He hemmed and hawed about how he didn't think that it was relevant and how he honestly forgot. What I took away from that situation is that this young man was embarrassed to not only be living at home but did not want to share information that may ruin his chances of getting his kids back. I won't speculate how he thought the situation was going to work out but suffice it to say things did not turn out as we hoped.
More on this topic in tomorrow’s blog post
We will pick up where we left off today in tomorrow’s blog post. I hope that these basic pieces of advice are both informative and relevant to you and your case. If you have any questions about the material that we covered please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week where we can answer your questions and address your specific concerns directly.