Setting goals for yourself is what are the most important things that you can do in connection with the divorce. The thing about a divorce is that you can become so consumed with different aspects of the case only to lose sight of what is most important to you and your family. Sometimes beginning a divorce can be such a difficult thing for you that you may lose track of the parts of your life that need the most work in connection with the divorce. As I am fond of telling people: you can wander into a divorce but you cannot wander out of 1 and achieve any degree of success. Therefore, you need to be comfortable with not only creating goals but actively working to achieve those goals.
Other than simply getting a divorce you may have very little in the way of knowledge about the divorce process. This should not be unexpected given that you are not a judge or a divorce attorney. Your interests lie elsewhere and the amount of time you have to devote to studying divorce processes is probably limited. As a result, your ability to come up with goals for a divorce that are reachable may be limited. What steps can you take to develop and define goals for your Texas divorce case?
Hire an experienced family law attorney
One of the best steps that you can take to define your goals for a Texas divorce is to hire a lawyer. This is not self-serving advice because I am an attorney or because I work at a family law office. Rather, this is real advice for those of you who are not experts in divorce and do not have all the time in the world to research topics related to divorce and family law. Rather, it is reasonable to expect that you will need to be able to lean on someone who has been there before when it comes to getting a divorce.
A divorce attorney can help you to identify the parts of a divorce case that you need to focus on. If you have minor children then it is likely that you will want to focus your attention on how to maximize your time in raising your kids and being able to spend time with them. Additionally, if you have significant property interests in your divorce then you may want to focus your time on being able to make sure that you retain as much property as possible. This is true not only to maintain your property but also to ensure that you can live comfortably after your divorce and eventually retire.
As you can tell, there are many issues at stake in a divorce. With so many competing interests that each have their value, it is understandable that you would want to make sure that your goal setting was appropriate given your circumstances. I would recommend hiring an attorney as a way to prevent problems in the divorce and to properly set goals. As a general rule, you cannot set goals without having some degree of knowledge of the situation. Attempting to circles for divorce may leave you feeling unfulfilled if you are not aware of the circumstances that may come into play. Hiring an attorney remove’s a great deal of doubt in the certainty about a case.
From the beginning, hiring an experienced family law attorney to represent unit divorce allows you to ask questions and receive feedback about the topics that are most relevant in a divorce. Part of being able to define goals is understanding what is most important in a divorce case. Without the ability to define these goals you will not be able to accomplish much in your divorce. If you would like to learn more about the world of Texas divorces my advice would be to speak to an experienced family law attorney. The information you gain can help you learn how to define reasonable goals for your case based on circumstances in your life.
Be determined to become as intentional as possible
Having goals is one thing. Having a plan of attack is another. That plan of attack for your divorce is based on being intentional about accomplishing those goals. For the most part, it is certainly possible to drive your way through a difficult family law case like a divorce. You can focus your attention purely on getting yourself to a point where you can be legally divorced and able to move on with the rest of your life. However, I would view that as doing yourself a great disservice. Besides not taking the case as seriously as you could I think it is helpful to understand that you only get one bite at the apple when it comes to a divorce. You should not expect that you will be able to come back for a second chance.
What does it mean to be intentional about your divorce? When I say acting intentionally many people from my experience have little to no idea what I’m talking about. When I say that it is important to act with intentionality that means that every decision you make in your case: the words you say, the negotiations you get into with your spouse in the manner in which you approach your case as a whole needs to be with an end goal in mind. Do not lose sight of those goals and instead focus all of your energy on achieving them. This means that you are a method of negotiation and the positions you take in your case should be focused entirely on achieving those goals.
On a practical level, I think that this means that you should and be focused on not getting into disputes or arguments with your spouse over nonessential or unimportant matters. I can understand the temptation to do so especially when things like pride get involved when your spouse needles you or attempts to irk you during a case. However, very rarely does retaliate are going back against the things that your spouse is telling you in an argument benefit your case on the whole. Rather, you should refine your focus to those activities that allow you to meet the goals of your case as a whole.
This may mean placing more attention on having regular conversations with your attorney. Throughout a divorce, circumstances may change and you may need to adjust your goals. That’s ok. There is nothing wrong with adjusting your goals based on changing circumstances in your case. What is not a good policy for a divorce is to be unprepared and to make decisions based on that unpreparedness. Rather, changing your approach in a divorce should occur only when the circumstances demand that you do so.
Being intentional starts with choosing the right attorney
With so many different attorneys in southeast Texas to choose from, it can be intimidating when it comes to selecting the right attorney for your divorce. Should you pick an attorney based only on the recommendation of a friend or colleague? Should you pick an attorney because you think he or she is mean and would be a tough adversary to negotiate against? What about selecting an attorney because he or she has an office near your home? Taken without regard to the other considerations listed here, none of these characteristics are good or bad. They are simply characteristics of an attorney. The key to this discussion is deciding whether or not these are characteristics that are attractive to you based on the circumstances of your case.
For instance, you may know in advance that here espouse is an extremely aggressive negotiator who will need to be stood up to when it comes to the critical moments of your case. If you know that you are a people pleaser in someone that does not do well with confrontation then you may need to consider hiring an attorney who not only will be prepared to diligently represent you but who will also stand up for you and your interests.
To act as intentionally as you can in regards to selecting an attorney I would recommend interviewing at least three attorneys who are familiar with the family courts of Harris County, have taken multiple divorce cases to trial, and practice primarily in family law. I think these are among the most critical characteristics for an attorney to possess if he or she is to represent you. There may be other characteristics that you find to be important but if I was sitting in your shoes and needing to select an inexperienced attorney to represent me in a divorce then I would look for these characteristics.
It is especially useful to be able to have an attorney who knows the court that your case has been assigned to. This doesn’t mean that the lawyer has to be on a first-name basis with the judge but having a knowledge of how the judge operates their courtroom, the procedures of filing documents, and obtaining hearings can be especially important for your case. These are the types of information that will allow you to save time and money. Additionally, knowing the extent to which the judge will allow for certain types of requests for extensions or continuances can also be important.
Next, I recommend hiring an attorney who has experience taking divorce cases to trial. That does not mean that your divorce is necessarily going to a trial. What does mean is that your attorney should be prepared if your case is destined to be tried? It is one thing to have an attorney who practices family law. It is another matter to have an attorney who knows what it’s like to take a case the distance and receive a favorable result for his or her client. Nothing, in my opinion, makes up for this sort of experience. There is nothing wrong with a young attorney trying to start their practice. My recommendation would be tonight to have that lawyer’s first trial experience be with you.
Finally, I believe that the attorney you hire should practice primarily in family law. Familiarity with the Texas family courts, the Texas family code, and the intricacies of Community property and custody are all important when it comes to adequately represent someone going through a difficult divorce. The more experienced your attorney is with handling divorce cases, the more likely he or she is to be with divorces involving circumstances like yours. This sort of familiarity can be the difference between proceeding down a path towards success in making avoidable mistakes.
At this point, I will mention that the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan all have the requisite degree of experience, fortitude, and familiarity with the courts I’m here in the county to represent you and your interests in a divorce. Family law is our firm’s area of focus and we take a great deal of pride in serving our community through diligent and professional representation. A free-of-charge consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys is available six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video.
Know what you are negotiating for
The last piece of advice that I will provide to you regarding intentionality in a divorce is to know what you were negotiating for and not to lose sight of your reasons for taking various positions. In reality, I am thinking more so about how you and your attorney should be preparing for final orders mediation in a contested divorce. When it comes to both preparing for the negotiating within mediation you must know what you are trying to prove regarding child casting in the Community property division. Once you have identified your specific goals then you can work to achieve them by actively participating in the process of preparing for mediation with your lawyer.
When our attorneys consider the goals of our clients and mediation they do so from a perspective of wanting to achieve as many of those goals as possible. It may not be possible for you to achieve every goal that you have for mediation but the least that you and your attorney can do is to write down your most significant goals and attach a plan of attack for how to achieve them. That may involve laying the groundwork before mediation by negotiating with your spouse diligently before physically attending mediation.
It may also mean willingly giving precedence to certain goals while being willing to focus less on others to achieve your more important objectives. If your attorney asks you but your most important goals are you cannot list 10 to 15 goals. Achieving every one of your goals in the exact way that you want may not be realistic based on the circumstances of your case. However, if you want to be able to have 50/50 custody of your children then there is probably a way to achieve that.
what you need to keep in mind is that it is very little you can do to truly improve your positioning in terms of custody and conservatorships once a divorce begins. A family court judge will look to your history as a parent when it comes to raising your children when determining custody and conservatorships. As a result, playing hardball on this subject when you are not in a position to do so based on your history as a parent would not be wise. You are better off negotiating from your strengths and not attempting to bite off more than you can chew in custody or conservatorships.
Another aspect of being intentional about defining your goals in mediation is that you need to be able to show your spouse why you are approaching negotiations the way that you are. For one, in answering discovery questions from your spouse you should have already been able to provide to him or her information that forms the basis of your opinions. Additionally, I like to be able to come ready with spreadsheets and other documents to be able to show your spouse while you are taking the positions that you are.
Why do I think this is so important? It is frustrating in mediation to go back and forth with counterproposals during settlement talks when you believe that your spouse is not being reasonable or is hiding information. Rather than get into this sort of position I like to provide my opposing party with all the information here she needs to see why we are looking at information the way that we are. This can control the frustration level and also provide some clarity on why you are negotiating the way that you are.
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 as well as about how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.