Finishing a divorce is what everyone wants to talk about when the divorce process begins. It's a little bit what this pandemic has been like. From day one of the pandemic the question that just about everyone I know has been asking is: when is this thing going to be over with? That is a reasonable question to ask and one that I know many of you must be asking, as well. In the same way, if you are planning on a divorce then I am willing to bet dollars to donuts that you are interested in figuring out just how long your divorce case is going to last.
The first thing that I will tell people about a divorce case is that they are sort of like snowflakes: no two cases are exactly alike. If you think that you know how long your divorce is going to last because you had an in-depth conversation with your friend about their case from five years ago then you may have learned more than you wanted to know about your friend’s love life, but probably don’t know much about your specific circumstances as a result.
What you need to know about completing a divorce is that the timeline is different for every case no matter what the circumstances are. There are so many variables in play that I feel confident in telling you that to expect your case to match the timeline of a friend's is not a smart move. Rather, you should identify the factors in play for your specific marriage, and then from there, you can begin to gauge just short (or how long, depending on how you want to look at it) your case could take.
Factors to address when determining a timeline for your divorce
First, I would take a look at the circumstances related to money and family when trying to gauge how long your divorce is going to last. It is cases where there is little in the way of community property and no children involved that are resolved the fastest. In situations like this, there is little to fight about and less to go over in negotiations. Consider that the more that is at stake in your divorce the longer it will be to sort through the issues. That doesn’t mean that you and your spouse will be engaged in hand to hand combat, but it does mean that there will be some degree of negotiation that is necessary.
Are you and your spouse in agreement on who will be named as the primary conservator in your divorce? If you cannot agree on this designation then you may be facing down a long divorce. Reason being that there is no middle ground when it comes to trying to determine which of you will have the right to determine the primary residence of your children and which of you will have to pay child support. These are immediate, significant issues in any divorce. If you cannot find some way to solve this issue during negotiations then you will have to do so in a trial.
How much community property needs to be divided in your divorce? If all you and your spouse have is a credit card and a vehicle to divide up then that may not take too long. However, if you own real estate, investments, Or retirement savings then that almost assuredly will add to the length of your case. Think of it in terms of each community asset being a poker chip and having to then divide those poker chips between you and your spouse in a somewhat even fashion. The more poker chips you have the more combinations there can be to think through and the more points to negotiate regarding.
Another factor but you need to consider is where your relationship with your spouse stands at the moment. If you and your spouse or on talking terms and are willing to work out disagreements with one another directly then you have a good chance of being able to negotiate through your divorce in a fairly quick fashion. On the other hand, if you all are not done talking terms and will require your attorneys to work with you all on conveying messages then almost assuredly your case will take longer to complete.
A divorce that takes longer to complete is not necessarily a bad thing period sometimes a divorce that takes a little bit longer can allow you and your spouse to arrive at a conclusion that is more equitable in better for you and your family in the long run. I am not advising anyone to rush through a divorce to arrive at a solution that is pasteli drawn up and not well thought out. However, it bears mentioning that the more issues that are in play in your divorce the longer it will likely take to complete. This is not a unique thought and should not come as a surprise to most of us.
The steps necessary in completing a divorce
in the title of today's blog post, we discussed how to obtain a certified copy of a final decree of divorce. The final decree of divorce for your divorce case. It will contain all of the final marching orders for you and your spouse regarding your property and your children. This is a very important document and is essentially the reason why you all got divorced in the 1st place. If you all cannot put into writing an accurate rendition of your agreement then the divorce was not worth the effort.
If you do not have an attorney to represent you in your divorce then I would recommend that you hire one if for no other reason than to have a professional look through your settlement agreement and put everything onto paper. It does not matter if he took a great deal of time to prepare for mediation and arrived at a mediated settlement agreement that works well for all involved. The most you can take the mediated settlement agreement and transfer it into a final decree of divorce is not worth the paper it is printed on.
When all parties, their attorneys, and your judge have signed off on the final decree of divorce then your case is officially complete. At that point, you can request copies of your final decree of divorce that are certified by the district clerk by contacting them directly. For instance, the District Court has a facility located on the 1st floor of the courthouse in Harris County where you can stop by and request documents that are the seal of the Harris County district clerk.
You will need to submit a form either in person or by Mail to request a copy. You can typically view copies of the documents online by creating an account for yourself and logging into the district clerk's website for your County but these are not certified copies that you can print out and keep for yourself. The Harris County district clerk will allow you to purchase uncertified copies online. Simply put, if you call the district clerk's phone number then someone will answer the phone that will answer your questions regarding obtaining a certified copy of your final decree of divorce.
Why would you need to obtain a certified copy of your final decree of divorce?
the 1st reason why I could think of you may need to obtain a certified copy of your final decree of divorce is if you are changing your name on your driver's license or Social Security card. If you are a woman who is going back to take your maiden name then any of these government agencies may require a certified copy of your final decree of divorce in your paperwork.
Additionally, some life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other sources may require a certified copy of her final decree of divorce you update beneficiaries on policies like these. I have also heard of schools requiring a certified copy of your final decree of divorce to honor Visitation and possession notifications made to the school. Some schools will keep a copy of your final decree of divorce in the records for your child so you might as well have an official copy from the courthouse to provide them with.
I will advise clients to order a handful of copies just to have some extras at home in case you need them in the future. While the emotional release associated with the divorce comes into play immediately after the case concludes the true end of your divorce takes place when the final decree of divorce is ready from the district clerk. You can then use the final decree of divorce to formally change your name, update beneficiaries on insurance policy's or for any other reason that may come up in your life. Follow the instructions on your County or district clerk's website to do so and you should not have any problems requesting a copy that is certified of this document.
Just like you need to plan for the process of getting a divorce you also need to plan for the process of adjusting to life as someone who is divorced. Although at times it may not feel like it, you will have an endpoint to your divorce case. When that occurs you need to be ready to face the challenges and opportunities available to you as a single adult. Depending on your circumstances you may find that there are more considerations than merely changing the name on your Social Security card or finding a new place to live after the divorce is over. Let's walk through several scenarios and how you can best manage them considering what your life is likely to look like at least in the immediate period following the conclusion of your divorce.
First and foremost, I would take a moment or longer for you to process the finality of your marriage. I am not trying to get spiritual or philosophical about this but I do think it is important for you to come to terms with the end of a relationship that has been the bedrock of your life for at least a short period. You have developed a bond with your spouse over time and even if the two of you are not on the best of terms right now that will be a bond that is going to tether the two of you together to some extent for the rest of your lives. I would understand this and instead of shying away from any feelings or emotions you have surrounding your ex-spouse or your marriage, you can embrace them and learn how to manage them whatever they are.
This is especially true if you have children with your ex-spouse. A good deal of your divorce was spent negotiating the terms of your custody and visitation agreements. For many divorces, this was the lion's share of discussion surrounding the case. How often do you get to see the kids? How often does your spouse get to see the kids? Where is everybody going to live? What about child support? All of these are relevant questions for divorce and by the end of your case, there should be some finality and closure surrounding all subjects.
If your case has not yet gone to trial or does not yet have a mediated settlement agreement in place and you feel uncomfortable about any of these subjects now is the time to speak to your attorney. Do not put this off and assume that it can be sorted out later through the courts or informally with your ex-spouse. There is a possibility of negotiating modifications with your ex-spouse when the time comes after your divorce but the best time to put into effect the changes you want is before the end of your divorce case. Share with your ex-spouse and your attorney your thoughts about any changes that you think need to be made before actually going to trial or having a settlement agreement in place. You may find that it is too late to do anything after a certain point in time.
Raising children with an ex-spouse offers the opportunity for you and your ex-spouse to develop a new relationship while honoring and respecting one another. I have talked to many people who have gone through divorce cases who are surprised to find that they truly didn't understand that they were not “getting rid” of their spouse in the divorce especially when they have children together. Your relationship with that person is just beginning as you endeavor into a Co-parenting relationship. Approaching your Co-parent with respect impatience can go a long way towards helping your children adjust in their own post-divorce lives.
I recommend to clients that they speak directly to their Co-parent as soon as the divorce is over and figure out how you all are going to work through problems and communicate issues to each other in real-time. Are you better at communicating over the phone? Do you live close enough where going to see the other person and talking face to face about problems is better? Whatever your chosen method of communication is you should be direct with your Co-parent about figuring something out that can be your default to turn to in the event of a problem or a change in plans needs to occur.
From a financial standpoint, I cannot recommend highly enough getting yourself on a good budget after your divorce case is over with and learning how 2 live on unless your income. Keep in mind that you will not be able to enjoy a dual-income household for at least a period after your divorce. As a result, the rent or mortgage you can afford to pay as well as the other costs that are a part of your lives need to be adjusted as you learn to live as a single person. Budgeting is the first step towards helping you come to grips with this.
What a budget will also do is it will help you to determine how much money each month you can spend on paying your attorney's fees if you still owe any and putting the remainder towards any other debts. No matter what happened in the community estate division in your divorce your mind is likely been focused on rebuilding your wealth and putting yourself and your family in a good financial position in your post-divorce years. It is my opinion that the most direct way for you to build wealth is through your income. The best way for you to use your income is towards benefiting yourself and your children rather than benefiting creditors and lenders.
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 presented 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 circumstances may interact with the law in a child custody or divorce case.