One of the great honors that the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are fortunate enough to take in almost every single day is the ability to serve our military community through providing representation in family law cases. There is something special about serving those who serve our nation with such valor and distinction. A military member there's typically one of the most diligent and trustworthy individuals you will ever come across in life. I can say from experience that the same can be said of having a military member as a client.
When it comes to representing military members in family law cases, I can tell you that there is some degree of frustration and having to see families that have sacrificed so much have to go through The difficulties and stresses of a family law case. A family law case is enough to put a family on its heels even under the best of circumstances. With that said, even the most organized and cohesive family can and will struggle with a family law case. If we throw on to that deployment or military service factor, you have a potentially combustible situation.
That is the sad part and the frustrating part for these families. Having to see otherwise good people go through less than ideal situations and circumstances is frustrating for everyone. What I like to do for all of our clients, including those in the military, is reassure them that their family law case will end. While the attorney cannot predict exactly when that end will come, the reality is that the end of a family law case oftentimes approaches sooner than anyone anticipates. What is important is that your family puts the kids' best interests first and does everything possible to maintain cohesion throughout the proceedings.
If you are a military spouse, you know that type of sacrifice that your family has had to undertake due to their commitment to serving our nation. Spouses of military members are no less valiant or sacrificial than their spouses who are doing the actual service. Supporting those who support all of us while caring for a family and having a job of your means that you're a list of responsibilities is great in this stress as you experience is even greater—couple this with uncertainty regarding your spouse and their safety. We have a situation where you need to be diligent about maintaining your mental health and staying positive for yourself and your children.
I think the challenges associated with military spouses in divorce can be felt most acutely regarding child custody-related matters. To be sure, if you are a military spouse and parent, then you understand the nature of sacrifice better than anyone. For that matter, so do your children. They have likely had to play in soccer games, acting plays in March in the band with at least one parent missing much of the time. This is very difficult for many families, but sacrifice is the name of the game. From what I can tell, military members and their spouses and children have a sixth sense of anticipating these challenges and making the best of them. Many civilians could learn a lot from your family as they deal with the challenges of a family law case and military service.
What is important for a military spouse may be less important for the person serving in the military. As much as we like to think about military spouses and their families all being on the same page, the reality is that a military member's responsibilities are different from their spouse's. For instance, if you live here in Texas and take care of your family while your spouse is deployed, you have day-to-day concerns regarding your children, your finances, and your employees that your spouse would not have. That's not to say that they are not concerned about any of their subjects; it's more or less than the two of you have different concerns at this stage in your life.
And that is something that is to be expected. There is no reason for you to ignore the reality that your circumstances here with your family are different than your spouse's circumstances living in another country. The idea that your spouse would be as concerned with what you are making for dinner on a Tuesday as you and your children are is silly. Rather than ignoring that your concerns at this time may be different than your spouses, you should focus on what you need to do to protect your children regardless of where your spouse is living or if they are deployed.
This is what I would like to discuss in today's blog post. No matter what role your spouse is fulfilling in the military, you need to understand what your responsibilities are as a parent and act upon them to benefit you in your children to the greatest extent possible. This does not mean taking advantage of your spouse being deployed or being overseas. It does mean that it would be irresponsible not to know of some of the more important factors regarding child custody and divorce for a military spouse.
In today's blog post from the law office to Brian Fagan, we will discuss what you as a military spouse should understand as you begin to engage in the divorce case. Whether you're spouse and co-parent living in Texas, another part of the country, or another part of the world, you need to be prepared to move forward with your case and protect yourself and your children.
What does a trial look like regarding child custody for a military family?
A trial in a family law case that centers around custody issues can be among the most difficult for families to work through. Many military spouses are pushed into a situation where they feel the need to "fight" for every single position they have ever held about a divorce or child custody case. Don't back down- after all, your spouse wouldn’t, right? However, discretion is sometimes the better part of valor. It may be beneficial to negotiate for the most important subjects strongly but to back off somewhat on less important topics. Otherwise, you may find yourself going to court on issues that are not critical to your children and yourself. That is not time, money, or mental energy well-spent.
You truly need to determine whether or not it is necessary to go through with a child custody or divorce trial. You need to be able to make this determination based on the opinions of your attorney and yourself. There is nothing wrong with talking to friends and family about your case and getting their perspectives. However, I find that these folks are oftentimes better at lending an ear or a shoulder to cry on rather than providing specific and objective advice regarding the nature of your child custody or divorce case. It is great to have a support circle. It is greater to have a support circle and a team of people that can provide you with an experienced opinion regarding the nature of your legal matters.
On the one hand, going to court for your child custody issues can benefit you as far as your mental health. You may have been holding in your thoughts and concerns about several issues regarding child custody within your family. Therefore, some would argue that it is healthy for you to let go of those thoughts and concerns on the record in the courtroom. That may be what you need to feel that you have pushed the issues as far as you can and have stood up for what you think is right. I have run into clients who can physically see the release in their face and body language after a trial or hearing. This can be true even if you do not achieve the desired result in your case.
There are some people out there, and you may count yourself among these folks who simply do not feel comfortable backing down from a fight or pulling out of a fight because the odds are against them. I think these can be admirable qualities in a person. Certainly, going through a family law case while letting your spouse or co-parent step all over you is not a good game-plan. You have to stand up for something in your case. If not for yourself, then certainly for your kids. I can imagine the feeling you may have in the future of not saying that you stood up for the issues that you think are the most important for your family.
Another reason why you and your family may also believe that going to court is worth the risk of a bad outcome is because “bad outcomes” are relative in most child custody cases. Absent issues like drug use, alcohol abuse, physical or sexual violence, etc., it is very likely that you and your co-parent will be named joint managing conservators of your kids. This means that each of you will share time with your kids, share rights, share duties to raise the kids, and things of this nature. The chances of you being eliminated from your child’s life due to your child custody trial are minimal in most cases.
Why you may want to avoid a trial in a child custody case
On the other hand, a trial is not something that you should necessarily seek out. We’ve all heard the expression: don’t go looking for a fight. That is applicable in the world of child custody cases, as well. Trials are a fight; make no mistake. There won’t be any hand-to-hand combat, but there will be verbal sparring, emotions, and the sort of effort one would expect to see in an old-fashioned gladiatorial match-up. For families like yours, it may not be worth it to proceed with a trial on child custody issues depending upon the specific circumstances that you all are facing.
For instance, I would argue that it can be more difficult to modify a court order based on the outcome of a trial than on the outcome of mediation. Having to prove a material and substantial change in circumstances can be challenging, especially if it can be shown that the trial anticipated the changes that you are now arguing in your motion to modify. At least in a situation where you went to mediation, you can argue that the circumstances were not considered or anticipated and have a leg to stand on due to plausible deniability. A trial will have a transcript, among other ways, to prove that a circumstance was considered years ago during your trial. Consider this before going to court in terms of the future need to modify a court order.
Another factor to consider is the possibility that you will be harming your relationship with your Co-parent due to going to the trial period; that does not mean that you should rule out ever going to court for fear of upsetting your Co-parent. But what it does mean is that you should consider the long-term impact of your decision-making on your relationship with your Co-parent. Could going to court on certain matters ruin your ability to coexist with your Co-parent in the future? It is certainly possible. This is not to say that this should be the primary consideration for going to court, but it may be among the more important ones for you considering your circumstances.
On top of that, there are also valid time and money considerations for you to make when going to court. For instance, settling your case before a trial will most likely save you and your family a significant sum of money. Going to court takes not only money but also time. If you and your Co-parent can work out the major issues of your case before beginning your divorce or child custody case, then you may be able to avoid many of the arguments and difficulties associated with trials and contested hearings.
It is not out of the ordinary to expect that a trial for your case could end up being more expensive than the entire case before that point. With the sheer amount of work that goes into preparing for a trial in terms of looking at the subject matter, preparing a case, getting exhibits ready, and discussing the important advice on how to testify in a trial, I'll take time with your attorney. Your attorney will be billing you for having worked on your case in this way. You will concentrate a great deal of effort into preparing for a trial that you would not have ordinarily seen in other stages of your case. More time will be spent preparing for a trial than the rest of your case combined, in all likelihood.
Hiring the right attorney is crucial when it comes to determining whether or not it is a good decision to go to trial. If you did not hire your attorney with a trial in mind, you likely made a mistake. It is not advisable to want to go to trial if your attorney has never done that before. For this reason, I would argue that it is not advisable to hire an attorney who is never gone and taking a case to a trial level. They should give you pause and add to that other factors that you should be considering when it comes to hiring an attorney. If you do not feel confident in your case and your attorney before going to trial, then you should strongly consider settling your case.
Consider the costs of a divorce or child custody trial when talking about at least one or two days of courtroom time with your attorney. It may be worth the money for you to proceed with a trial, but you should do after careful consideration of the issues at hand. There is no shame in settling your case and ending the child custody battle to spend more time with your kids and healing your family law case.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in Today's blog post, 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 in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.