Do you think you need to get a divorce? Ultimately it is your opinion that matters most when it comes to this subject. You can consult with friends, family members, and even coworkers to determine what their thoughts are the Buck stops with you in terms of actually moving forward with the divorce. The other thing you need to keep in mind is that you don't even need to ask your spouse for permission, either. If you want to get a divorce you can get it on your own without even consulting with him or her. This may seem basic and intuitive but for those who have gone through the difficult stretch in their marriage relationship, this point may need to be reiterated from time to time.
The decision to get a divorce is one that you should not arrive at without a great deal of forethought. Well, people are getting divorced more now than in any generation before ours that does not mean that we can simply enter in and out of marriages without some degree of forethought and consideration. Fortunately, there are more resources now than ever before when it comes to considering the impacts of divorce and working on methods to avoid having to get a divorce in the 1st place. That is what I would like to discuss with you today in our blog post.
If you are a regular reader of our blog here on the website for the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, then you know that we will frequently recommend people considering a divorce get as much perspective as possible when it comes to this subject. For instance, simply waking up one day and deciding you want to divorce and then filing that afternoon probably isn't the best idea. Rather, I would recommend working with experienced and honest sources when it comes to assessing whether or not you should get a divorce. Preferably this would be an objective source that would be able to give you advice that does not necessarily come from a prior relationship with you.
With that said, getting a second opinion on your decision to get a divorce is never a bad idea. Your life has many relationships that are a part of it and you can be sure that there are people available to you to bounce ideas off of and get second opinions from. When it comes to the most important relationship in your life, your marriage, you should consider these sources when determining whether or not to move forward with your divorce. Let's walk through what it means to get a second opinion on your divorce and whom you can go to for that second opinion.
Consultations with multiple family law attorneys
Speaking to multiple, experienced family law attorneys is essential when figuring out your next steps in the divorce process. That doesn’t mean that the attorney is going to necessarily dissuade you all from getting a divorce. What it does mean is that the attorney can provide you with the most valuable tool that you will have at any point in the divorce process: information. Information is essential to your ability to make decisions, plans and allow those plans to lead to accomplishable goals. How can you make decisions and become goal-oriented in a divorce without having information to base those decisions on?
Family law attorneys, contrary to popular belief, are not hell-bent on pushing you to get divorced. I have spoken with many people in my time as an attorney and recommended that they attempt a reconciliation with their spouse. Sure- some circumstances demand consideration of a divorce such as family violence, spousal abuse, abandonment, and things of that nature. However, the vast majority of people in your shoes find themselves asking questions about matters that are much more mundane. If you can, you should consider speaking to someone who can help you and your spouse sort out your problems in a constructive manner.
An experienced family law attorney will also provide you with information about a timeline for your case, a list of important documents to begin collecting as well as an idea about what your divorce will end up costing you should you decide to move forward. Again, information is important. Many people hold off on getting a divorce because they are under the impression that divorcing your spouse will require you to dip deep into your savings or even tap your retirement for an early withdrawal. What if the attorney you seek a consultation with can tell you that the costs of representation will not be an arm and a leg?
Another unfortunate circumstance that I see people putting themselves through is delaying a divorce because they are reliant on their spouse for income and housing. Imagine you are a stay-at-home parent and spouse. You don't have a college degree, work experience and are getting older (as we all are). You have thought about divorce and have almost moved forward several times only to hold back because you know that it is going to take time for you to land employment after your divorce. However, what if the divorce attorney you met with can tell you that there are such things as spousal maintenance and contractual alimony that will allow you to stay on your feet in the period immediately after your divorce?
My point is this: when it comes to getting consultations on divorce- why not start with a round of interviews with experienced family law attorneys? I would recommend the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our attorneys are experienced, hard-nosed, empathetic, and client-driven. We are inside the family courts of southeast Texas every day working for our clients and their families. A consultation with one of our attorneys is free of charge!
Talk with your spouse, if possible, about your thoughts on divorce
Sometimes you may find yourself in a circumstance where you are unable to have a constructive discussion with your spouse about your marital problems and the possibility of getting a divorce. This can be a problematic situation to find yourself in. The irony of that, of course, is that communication is the best way for you to avoid marital problems in the first place and then to solve problems associated with marriage once they arise. So, if you find yourself in a position where your marriage is failing and you can’t quite find the words to express yourself to your spouse does that mean that all is lost?
Not necessarily. First of all, one thing that you need to keep in mind right now is that not every person has the same tools in their metaphorical toolboxes to deal with problems that are best solved with increased communication. You and your spouse may be the most empathetic, caring parents but may struggle with interpersonal communication. This can lead to problems with identifying potential warning signs of marital problems and can cause greater difficulty in dealing with problems once they arise. That doesn’t mean that you have failed as a spouse. It just means that you may need assistance in having these important discussions with your spouse.
This is where an experienced family therapist or marriage counselor can come in handy for a person in your position. A therapist can not only help you identify problems in your marriage but can help you to learn how to avoid problems in the future and develop techniques to talk to your spouse about problems once you encounter them later on. Marriage is tough, and having a great marriage is tougher. None of us are born being strong communicators and empathetic listeners. Those are skills and traits that are developed over time.
One other point I will make about seeking counseling and therapy from a professional is that the “professional” in question does not have to be someone you make you lay down on a couch while he sits quietly and jots down his thoughts into a notepad. Your therapist can be a priest, minister, another religious leader, or even a person in your community that you and your spouse both trust and who can be honest with the both of you. As long as you and your spouse trust this person to be objective and honest then the actual therapist or counselor that you all see can be several people.
Do not bring your children into the discussion regarding whether or not to get a divorce
Some of you just read that last sentence and cringed. Others of you may have read it and thought nothing of it. Depending on your relationship with your children, as well as their ages, you may fall into one of the two categories or neither. If you have older children then you may look to them as confidants during turbulent times. Others of you may have younger children who couldn’t identify with the problems you are facing even if you wanted them to be able to. So, the question that we family law attorneys receive on occasion is whether or not it is appropriate to lean on your kids for their opinions on whether or not a divorce is something worth pursuing?
I'll start with the easier answer to give: if you have school-aged children then it is wholly inappropriate to talk to them about the specific problems that you have with your spouse. For one, your children will end having to split time between your home and your spouse's home where you move forward with a divorce. That means if you may be influencing the way that your children think about you and your spouse negatively even if that was not your intent.
Your kids are not equipped to be able to handle the problems of your marriage at young ages. They are just learning basic social skills and tend to break down issues like you are facing into "good" versus "bad." Having such a black/white point of view on issues like this makes them not the best sounding board for such critical decisions in your life. Not only will you be burdening your children with information about your marriage but you may be alienating your children from your spouse in doing so.
The risks of alienation in a Texas divorce
Of all the issues to be concerned with within a Texas divorce one of the most important is that of alienation. I am willing to bet that in all the guides you have read to divorce that alienation has not been a topic that has been discussed very much. That's a shame because I think it is one of the more important topics that should be and needs to be addressed. Let's take a break from the topic of second opinion consultations on divorce to discuss what alienation is and how it may impact your family.
Alienation is essentially when one parent turns their child against the other parent whether on purpose or without intending to do so. I would argue that most of the time it is pretty difficult for a parent to engage in alienating behavior without being aware of the consequences of that behavior. Alienating behavior can take on qualities like constantly badmouthing the other parent in front of the children or even if you were to make subtle comments or illusions to the other parent and their inability to perform adequately as a parent in your estimation. Constantly second-guessing the other parent or causing doubt in the mind of your child as to whether or not that parent loves your child would be alienating behavior.
To start with, alienating behavior is never appropriate. While you may believe that you aren't doing any long-term harm the reality is that by bad-mouthing another parent in front of your child on a repeated basis you are potentially destroying your child's relationship with that parent. Consider the age of your child before you make any remarks or comments about your Co-parent. Your children may be at the age where they are incapable of processing or understanding the comments that you make and this can be disastrous for that child and how they view the other parent.
This is especially true if you are the primary conservator of your child. That means that your child will be in your possession more often than not and therefore you have long periods of plant seeds of doubt in the mind of your child regarding their relationship with the other parent. Instead of choosing to act negatively regarding the parent and their relationship with your child you could choose to simply say nothing at all. In a perfect world, you would do everything you could to encourage your child to have a relationship with your Co-parent. However, if that's not possible simply saying nothing at all beats constantly badmouthing the other parent.
If all of this isn't enough to cause you to step back and refrain from badmouthing the other parent, you should understand that by doing so you are going to violate your final decree of divorce. There is almost always a provision included in the final orders of divorce cases that forbid speaking negatively about the other parent in front of your children. There is no circumstance in which the behavior is justified and if it becomes enough of an issue you can rest assured that your Co-parent will ask a judge to weigh in on the subject. Simply avoid the subject altogether by honoring the Golden rule: if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all.
Final thoughts on second opinion divorce consultations
if you are the type of person to pride yourself in making decisions on your own without needing the input of others that I think you can probably count yourself among a large group of us who are that way. In all honesty, I tend to be that way when it comes to major decisions. I pride myself on being able to assess situations and correctly diagnose them when it comes to decision-making. However, that sort of attribute may be beneficial in some regards but in others, it can be extremely hard for you to get a good idea of what steps you need to take, or not take, wanna come to see divorce.
You should work with attorneys, counselors, trusted friends and family, and others when making an important decision about divorce. Again, what works for other people may not work for you. You need to decide about what is best for you and your family based on your circumstances. Once you have consulted with enough people that you trust and whose experience matters to you then you will be able to make a decision that is not only the best for you but your children, as well.
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 are available six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video to speak with you about your circumstances. A family law consultation is a great way for you to learn more about the law as well as how your family may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.