One of the interesting parts of being a Texas family law attorney is working with each family and learning the dynamics of their household. For example, some families have a very straightforward dynamic where there are no issues in dealing with either our client or with their opposing spouse. Everybody wants to play nice in the sandbox and get along with one another for the most part. These are divorce cases where nobody relishes the experience, and everyone wants to get out with a fair agreement for everyone involved. Nobody is interested in taking an emotional pound of flesh from their opposing spouse.
On the other hand, there are divorce cases where it is extremely contentious from the very beginning of a case. Some divorce cases get to the point where circumstances become so hostile that the attorneys need to have many counseling sessions with their clients to ensure that tempers do not boil over. For the most part, you see this happen in circumstances involving kids. I was working on a divorce case in the past few years where the parties involved had to move their exchanges of the children to a police station parking lot because they would get so upset with each other if left to their own devices.
I don’t mean to tell you all this to intimidate or frighten you. For the most part, divorce cases in Texas are straightforward and do not involve too much in the way of fighting one way or the other. Sure, disagreements are not uncommon but out and out fighting is. Most people can act like adults and at least be civil with one another even if they do not agree with everything going on in a case. However, there is the possibility that your divorce may be the exception to this rule. In that case, how would you deal with these adverse circumstances? Are you prepared to go into your divorce with a game plan to handle these issues? Who would you turn to for help?
What this can mean is that your divorce has the potential to be straightforward or downright difficult depending upon your level of preparation. While it is not going to be a fun experience to prepare for a divorce it beats failing to prepare and suffering consequences. If your Co-parent is the type of person that you have concerns about in terms of there being difficult to deal with then today’s blog post is for you. We are going to walk through what makes a difficult person even tougher to handle in the context of a divorce. Finally, we will discuss methods to avoid confrontations that can be detrimental to your family and hard on you.
Identify the issues in your divorce
If you have not already done so at the beginning of a divorce you should do your best to be objective and pinpoint, why it is you are getting divorced in the first place. This can be difficult in and of itself. Being honest with yourself about divorce, in the role you may have played in the divorce becoming a reality for your family, is not easy. However, unless you can perform this level of self-examination it can be difficult to be able to develop a game plan for handling circumstances involving a hard to deal with spouse. If you do not understand why you are in this position it is hard to develop a game plan.
If you are in this divorce because of problems with money, then that means you need to be aware of the financial consequences of the breakup of your marriage. During the divorce that might mean protecting against you were spouse I have to meet people who have been involved in divorce cases where their spouse either removes their name from a checking or savings account or simply changes the password to be able to utilize a debit card or even access the website and their accounts online. If your spouse has either done this before or is capable of doing so then you can prepare for something like this.
For example, you could make sure to include in your temporary orders that your spouse is barred from changing the password on any accounts that you both have access to. This will at least put him or her in a position where they can be held responsible if they do decide to prevent you from gaining access to a checking or savings account that you rely upon to pay bills or buy groceries for your family. There isn’t much a family court judge can do on a day-to-day basis as far as limiting your spouse’s ability to act in this way but having temporary orders to spell out specific situations and provide you with remedies is a good place to start.
Another situation that may be relevant to your divorce is that you’re difficult to deal with spouse may also have cheated on you. This type of behavior can cut to the core of a marriage and destroy even what had been a strong relationship. If this is a circumstance that you find yourself in then your best course of action is to identify what you need to negotiate for in the divorce to protect your children from being exposed to that type of behavior in the future. No, it is not as if you can prevent your spouse from dating after you all get divorced. However, there are ways to shield your children from what may become inappropriate behavior.
One of the protections that some parents going through divorce choose to negotiate for in their case is to prevent an unrelated adult from being in the home when the children are there between the hours of 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM. If nothing else, this may be a protection that you are interested in negotiating for during the divorce itself. Policing this type of behavior is difficult even during the divorce. However, if you want to prevent behavior that you think is detrimental to your children then this will be one technique to utilize.
Another factor to consider when it comes to cheating in a marriage is financial infidelity. Financial infidelity can be directly related to sexual infidelity. Not only could your spouse have been cheating on you physically but he or she may have been spending money on their Paramore while the marriage was ongoing. While it can be difficult to look through your finances to discover exactly what was going on the truth is that you need to do so so you can figure out what action needs to be taken regarding the division of your community property in the divorce.
If your spouse utilizes community property to purchase gifts or other items for their girlfriend or boyfriend, then you have a right to be reimbursed these amounts. This is most readily done during the divorce. The reimbursement would logically come from the separate estate of your spouse if any. If your spouse does not have any separate property, then you would likely be in line for a disproportionate share of your community property. Absent other factors, Community property is typically divided well down the middle. But when you have bad behavior by one spouse that leads to divorce then you may be looking at a situation where you end up receiving more property out of the community estate than does your spouse. Depending upon your specific circumstances, it may be best to allege fault grounds for divorce in your original petition or counter-petition.
Negotiating with a difficult spouse
Most divorces in Texas do not make it to a trial. The reason for this is due to most family courts requiring you to attend at least one session of mediation before going to either a temporary order hearing or trial. This can go a long way towards putting you and your Co-parent and spouse into a situation where you all are forced to negotiate with one another. Even if the two of you were seeing eye to eye on very little mediation can bring about the settlement at an impressive rate, in my opinion.
As with anything, it takes two to tango when it comes to divorce negotiations. Not only do you have to be willing to negotiate fairly but your spouse does as well. If he or she is not willing to work with you to settle the issues of your divorce, then this puts you in a difficult position. It is not wise 2 negotiate with someone who is not being fair or does not view your circumstances objectively. Again, this does not mean that the two of you must agree on every subject or even most subjects in your divorce to negotiate well with one another. what it does mean is that the two of you must be willing to set aside your differences and at least consider the circumstances from the vantage point of the other person.
If you anticipate the need to negotiate with a difficult spouse, the first thing that I would do is acknowledge that this is not going to be easy for anyone. Sometimes simply calling out the awkwardness that is involved in divorce negotiations can do a great deal to disarm the other person. Without a doubt, the negotiation process in divorce is hard enough when you are not dealing with a difficult to manage person or personality. If you add 2 this equation that the two of you disagree and your spouse is disagreeable then you could have a circumstance where negotiations do not go well at all. This will be wasting a good opportunity to avoid going to trial and spending the time in money associated with doing so.
I am not here to try to offer you any kind of psychological tricks when it comes to negotiating with a difficult person. Many difficult to deal with spouses we’ll change their tune when you have a deadline in front of you. For example, if you know that if you do not settle your case in mediation that a trial date will be upcoming the following week that can do amazing things to a person’s willingness to negotiate with you in good faith. However, some people are belligerent, hardheaded, or simply bold enough to forgo this opportunity and would prefer that your case goes before a judge. In that type of circumstance, there isn’t much you can do. We have already touched on how it would not be wise for you to cave in to a person who is difficult to negotiate with. Allowing him or her to keep the upper hand for no other reason than You want to avoid a trial would not be wise.
Rather, you can take this opportunity to identify what common ground you and your spouse might have to settle shows areas of your case which are more manageable. By this, I mean that you can settle the easier-to-manage areas of your case in hopes that simply being present for negotiations will allow for the two of you to springboard any settlements you can reach into discussions on more difficult to negotiate problems. You would not believe the number of divorce cases that I have worked on that were settled on the courthouse steps the day of trial or a pretrial hearing.
The thing about negotiating with a difficult-to-deal person is that you must take every opportunity available to you. You cannot simply assume that a certain negotiating tactic or idea will not work for the two of you. Rather, I recommend to people that they start with a blank chalkboard and treat the divorce like the beginning of a relationship. Do not go into negotiations making assumptions about your spouse based on their past behavior. While their past behavior may have been hurtful to you or your family if you can set that aside and give it a good-faith effort at least initially he will be better off. You may even find that the difficulty to deal with a spouse is more willing than you would have imagined working through some of the issues that are impacting you in your divorce.
What to do if your spouse is mean and you are not
One of the more frustrating aspects of negotiating with a difficult person is that frequently the opposing spouse is the most easygoing person in the world. They say that opposites attract and being a divorce attorney has driven this reality home. Because of the nature of your marriage, you may have taken on a role where your personality has become easier to deal with and more civil to counteract your more bombastic and difficult spouse. In that case, you have 1 major card that you can play that will seriously increase your chances of a favorable result in your divorce.
The card that I recommend you play is to hire an attorney who is professional, aggressive in negotiation, and on top of all aspects of your case. A lot of people would presume that if your spouse is mean and nasty that you need to hire an attorney who is mean and nasty. While I do know some attorneys who benefit from having a bit of a mean streak, I cannot say that this is a rule that will always work for you and your family. There is a time and a place 4 all sorts of negotiation methods. To say that only a meaning nasty attorney can succeed in negotiating against a meaning nasty spouse would simply not be true. However, you need to identify the correct attorney for you based on your personality, that of your spouse, and your specific needs in the divorce.
You can learn the tendencies of the attorney that you plan on hiring by engaging with the lawyer in consultation before hiring him or her. The decision to hire an attorney is a very important one over the scope of your life. Therefore, you should not enter this type of rent without first meeting with the lawyer in person. many attorneys, such as those with our law practice are very willing to meet with you in a no-commitment necessary consultation six days a week in our office, over the phone, or even via video online. Take the time to learn about your attorney and ask questions about your specific circumstances. Developing a relationship with the lawyer before you decide to hire him or she is extremely important.
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 circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.