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How do I know If I’m ready for a divorce?

The question of whether or not you are ready for divorce is an incredible fact-specific that I cannot answer in today's blog post. I hate to let you down this early in the blog but your life is unique to you and your spouse and we need to know something about the circumstances in your life and the problems that you are experiencing before I could give you an opinion on you and your family as well as your options moving forward. This doesn't mean that you can't get any perspective on your life but trying to learn from this blog post what you should do about your specific circumstances may be a mistake.  

On the other hand, what would not be a mistake is to contact one of the attorneys with our law office to set up a free of charge consultation. A consultation with an attorney does not mean that you are signing up to be represented by an attorney but it does mean that you are trying to learn more about your life as well as more about the world of Texas family law. An attorney cannot only listen to your circumstances and give you perspective on what You are facing but can also provide you with more detail about the world of Texas family law as well as what you are likely to encounter as far as the divorce process in Texas is concerned. For many people who have little knowledge about divorce or have great concerns about what divorce means to their family, this consultation can be superb from a state of mind perspective.  

In consultation with an attorney does not commit you to anything other than spending some time with the lawyer who has specific knowledge about the law and can apply that knowledge to your life in circumstances. What I recommend to people who are exploring their options when it comes to divorce is to meet with a handful of attorneys and to not only gain their perspective but to determine whether or not that attorney is a good match for you and your family both from a personality standpoint as well as from a price standpoint. Keep in mind different attorneys bring different qualities and levels of experience to the table in a divorce. You should select the attorney who represents unit divorce not only based on whether you feel comfortable with that attorney representing you but based on their level of experience and also their vision for your case. 

If you have never met with an attorney or gone over your case with anyone before I can understand why this is intimidating. Sharing information about your family and expecting that person to then give you an honest assessment of those circumstances can be a little bit intimidating. I know that as a pretty private person it is not always easy for me to open up to other people especially when it comes to subject matter where I may be having to give information about things that are not all that pleasant about myself or my family. However, this information is going to come out in your divorce and it is better to share that information with someone that you trust in an informal setting than to go into a divorce having never done so before. 

The other thing to keep in mind about consultations with attorneys is that the attorney will have likely heard similar information from other people many, many times before. You should expect that the attorney will have some degree of experience dealing with your problems before with other families and would therefore be able to provide you with real-world and practical advice on how you could proceed within your divorce. Do not expect for the attorney to map out your entire divorce for you in consultation but you should expect that attorney to be able to provide you with some detail about how your case may go and what issues you may experience in the case itself.

This is the beauty of consulting with a family law attorney before the beginning of your case. There is no need for you to wonder what would happen to you in a case or how a particular issue may be treated under the law or in a negotiation setting. All you need to do is seek the advice and perspective of licensed attorneys and you can learn much more about the circumstances that you are facing. Especially if you are not fully decided about whether or not to proceed with the divorce in consultation with the family law attorney should be the first place you turn to as far as figuring out whether or not to move forward.

A divorce is not an immediate end to your marriage 

Some of you reading today's blog posts are fed up with your marriage and just wanted to come to a close. If you have suffered from an unhappy relationship for some time it would be understandable to want some closure in your relationship. Given your strong desire to end the marriage, you must understand that a divorce will not immediately do so. Rather, a divorce becomes official at the end of the case when the final decree of divorce is signed off on by the judge at all parties and not at the beginning when the divorce is first filed.

A divorce in Texas takes at least 60 days from start to finish. From the day that you file your divorce, there will be at least a 60 day waiting period for you to get through before your divorce can be finalized. With that said, you should plan on being legally married for a little longer after you file for divorce. for most people, this is not a huge deal but for some of you who want an immediate emotional release from the marriage, it will be important for you to know that this will not occur.

Some of you may be wondering why there is this requirement for a divorce to take at least 60 days. After all, if you can buy or sell a house if in 60 days or purchase a firearm in a fraction of that time why should it take 60 days to get a divorce? My general answer is that the state of Texas does not want to make it overly easy or fast for people to get divorced. Rather, wants to offer at least a 60 day waiting period where you and your spouse would be able to contemplate whether or not a divorce was right for you and to seek other options as far as trying to salvage your marriage. 

If you are in this boat and want to attempt to salvage your marriage, then you should speak to your spouse and attempt to have a conversation about the issues that are ongoing in your relationship. You may find that you are unable to work your way out of the funk in your marriage but other times You may be able to work yourself into a situation where counseling or therapy is undertaken and a concerted attempt to save your marriage is made. The last thing you want to do is to move quickly towards a divorce and never truly make an honest effort to salvage your relationship. 

I have worked with couples who have moved to file for divorce and then have stopped the process midway or partway to reconcile their relationship. There haven't been many people that I've done this in my experience but there are some. I think the biggest thing preventing people from doing so is that once you start a process it is hard to change course midway and turn back towards reconciliation. Once the paperwork has been filed, attorneys have been hired in a conversation has been had with your children it can take a great deal of mental and emotional muscle to determine that ship around. If you think this describes your family then you should consider your options before filing for divorce.

Preparing for divorce means setting yourself up for success 

You've probably heard the expression before: those who fail to prepare are preparing to fail. I think that saying is especially applicable to divorces. If you go into a divorce with no plan and no objectives in mind then you will suffer the consequences as a result. For the most part, based on my experiences the vast majority of people who file for divorce do so out of a desire to end their marriage but there is very little planning that goes into the process. Most folks file for divorce out of frustration or anger or any range of emotions in between. It is usually very little in the way of concrete goals that people have at the beginning of a divorce. I think this is a mistake and would be one that you should try to avoid at all costs.  

Goal setting for divorce is difficult. For one, you likely don't know much about the specifics of goal setting in a divorce or what is an appropriate conversation to have regarding that subject. You know generally speaking how people get divorced but don't know much about what a divorce actually entails. That's OK: it's not as if this is something that you work in or around every day of your life like an attorney would. That is why you need to think hard about your circumstances and then work with an attorney who can advise you on goal setting and strategy.

The first step I would take towards filing for divorce would be to meet with multiple attorneys and talk through strategy with them. Once you have learned a little bit more about family law in Texas and discuss your specific circumstances with an attorney that lawyer can provide you with general information that you can utilize to guide yourself and your family. When it comes time to hire an attorney you will have hopefully met with multiple lawyers who would have allows you to learn not only information about the law but information about attorneys in this field and how we work and serve clients. Once you have an attorney that you feel comfortable with, trust, and can afford then you should select him or her and begin the process of filing for divorce. 

Hiring an experienced family law attorney is the first step in the process but it is far from the last step in the preparation for your case. It is important to understand that an attorney does not do the work for you but rather helps and guides you to perform the major steps in your case. An attorney will file documents and negotiate on your behalf with the opposing attorney but your attorney will not make decisions for you it is not responsible for the end of your case. That all falls on your shoulders. It is up to you to learn from your attorney and to ask questions along the way. 

Don't simply decide within a case because the attorney tells you is the right thing to do. Rather, do your best to ask questions and to learn about the divorce process. If you are being advised to ask for something when dividing up Community property you should try to understand why the attorney is advising this and what benefit it can have on your family. Think of it like making investments for your retirement. You wouldn't invest in something just because another person told you to without having any knowledge of that specific investment, would you?

Your attorney has a great deal of knowledge and you should start the relationship out on the right foot by asking questions and hearing his or her responses. Listen to the things that your attorney says and understand that the lawyer is giving you dispassionate and objective advice. That is why you hired the attorney in the 1st place. You don't need another emotional and involved person to be in your corner. You have all of those requirements taken care of in about yourself. Rather, it is important for you to be able to be guided by someone who is not emotionally invested in your case and so that he or she can offer you the sort of advice with a clear head that you need. 

You can begin to help your attorney and their staff by collecting documents and organizing them for later in your case. In the divorce process, there is a step called discovery for both you and your spouse will likely request documents, information, and answers to simple questions that will help each of you to learn a little bit more about the other's case. You can either take the time before your case begins to collect these sorts of documents or you can do so during your case. Doing so during the case will not only take up time but will likely cost you money in that your attorney's staff may need to help you organize and collect the documents. Why not spend your own time doing so and you will save both time and money during your case. 

What sort of documents should you begin to collect? I think it is typically financial documents that are most important to collect during the beginning stages of a divorce. For instance, if you have retirement statements, investment statements, bank account information, or other documents that may be part of your Community property division then you should begin to collect those. Even if these documents will not be up to date by the time you attend mediation you can give your attorney some idea of what is going on and you can remind yourself where to find them in the future if need be.

Many times you will not always have access to these documents. You may know exactly in what file cabinet or in what closet you and your spouse keep these sorts of documents but it may come a time where you have to move out of your house and no longer have access to them. You should collect the documents now and assume that at some point you will lose access to them. The same can be said for items in your home that do not document yet are still important. Take 10 minutes out of your day to walk through each room in your house and take photos of your closets, bedrooms, dresser drawers, kitchen, garage, and any other items that you believe may be at issue in your case. Do it now and you will save yourself a lot of heartaches if these items were to “walk away” at some point in your case.

Questions about the material contained in today's waffles? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan 

If you have any questions about the material contained in our blog post today please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation 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 as well as about how your circumstances will be impacted by divorce laws in Texas. Thank you for your interest in our office and we hope you will join us tomorrow as we continue to share more unique content about the world of Texas family law. 

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