People ask me all the time: do you need an attorney to represent you in a divorce or child custody case? The answer to that question depends largely upon what type of case you have and what your circumstances are. You need to understand the benefit of having an attorney to represent you and what it can mean for you to not be represented by a lawyer as you begin a child custody or divorce case. 

Much of the time we concern ourselves with the extreme short-term downsides of hiring an attorney. Mainly that he will have to spend money to pay for an attorney. Not only would you not want to have to go through a divorce, but you would also prefer not to have to spend money on an attorney in the first place. However, sometimes in life, we do things that are unpleasant to realize again in the future. What you need to decide is whether that gain is sufficient to endure the cost.

Is there a law that requires you to be represented by an attorney in your divorce?

The bottom line is that no law in Texas requires you to have an attorney guiding you if you are going through a divorce or child custody case. Many people go through family law cases each day without ever hiring an attorney. There is no requirement in any statutes, civil or criminal, that mandate you being represented by an attorney. What you need to figure out then is whether your circumstances justify or can be improved by you are hiring an attorney.

To begin with, they’re not being a requirement for you to be represented by an attorney in your divorce does not necessarily mean that you do not need an attorney on a practical level. All things considered, there is so much riding on the result of your divorce or child custody case that you need to seriously consider your options when it comes to hiring an attorney. 

The first thing an experienced attorney can do for you within a child custody or divorce case helps you to get the case started. This may not sound like a big deal or something important, but it truly is. There’s an old proverb that goes something like the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. This means that you cannot complete a long journey until you begin it. This may sound simplistic but when it comes to a divorce case it makes a great deal of sense.

Nobody wants to get a divorce. Many people look for all sorts of excuses and rationalizations as to how they can avoid getting divorced. However, we know that if you want to get past something you must first go through it. By going through the trouble of hiring an attorney, paying him or her to represent you, and making an emotional commitment to go through with the case you will have done a great deal to move the case along and complete a divorce. Much of the time unless you go through these steps you will not push yourself enough to go outside of your comfort zone to get the divorce.

In that case, an attorney acts as your accountability partner. My accountability partner keeps you honest and keeps you focused on your goals at hand. Whereas you may not have Anyone in your life to keep you on track with your divorce an attorney can be that person for you on a professional level.

Next, an attorney understands what it means to go through a divorce and can guide you on your way. So much of a divorce case isn’t about flashy courtroom antics or anything like that. It is the simple nuts and bolts process of not making mistakes, filing the documents you need when you need them, and allowing the case to progress from beginning to end. you may be surprised to learn that some of the clients at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan originally began representing themselves in a divorce case. It was only after making mistakes and incurring delays in their case that they realized the responsibilities of filing a divorce or beyond what they were capable of. As a result, they decided to hire our law office to represent them and never looked back.

Are there any circumstances in which it would not be necessary in my opinion to have an attorney representing you in your divorce case? The only scenario that I could think of where having an attorney by your side in a divorce would not be incredibly beneficial would be if you have a divorce with no children involved and no property or very little property in play. This would be a somewhat common scenario for young people, for example, who were married right out of high school or out of college who have not yet begun to accumulate property and have been married for a very short period. When it comes to switching the names on car titles and making sure that small credit card bills are paid in a reasonable amount of time these are probably circumstances where you could handle them without the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.

And any other situation it would be certainly advisable to have an attorney guiding you. The question you need to ask yourself is what sort of attorney you need to hire and how do you go about finding the attorney who offers you the right fit. We can talk about these subjects in the second half of today’s blog post but bear in mind this is only going to cover general information that is intended for a wide audience. If you have specific questions about hiring an attorney in the benefits of doing so in your circumstances, I recommend that you contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys can take the time to sit with you and determine the best course for you and your family. You can go over specific scenarios with your attorney to help him or her being able to give you practical information period from there, you can determine the need in your circumstances as to whether or not it will be helpful for you to have an attorney guiding you in providing you with advice in your divorce case.

What type of law is a divorce or child custody case?

When it comes to working through the details of a child custody or divorce case all you may know is that you have some problems in your family that need to be solved. Specific information about who to contact, where to go from here, or even what kind of attorney you need to help you may all be things that you have to look out for. To start with, a divorce or child custody case is generally known in Texas as a family law case. Family law cases currently represent I majority of noncriminal cases. You can think of divorce and child custody cases more broadly falling under the umbrella of civil law cases and more specifically being known as family law cases. So, if you are interested in hiring an attorney to represent you in your divorce and child custody case you would be looking for a family law attorney. 

Fortunately for you, family law attorneys are relatively common. There may be many reasons for this but into the ever-growing list of people who need child custody and divorce representation, the number of attorneys who practice in this area have increased as well. We probably will not suffer from a lack of options when it comes to hiring a lawyer. However, think of this scenario as being like one where you are trying to pick a dinner entree at a restaurant where the menu is humongous. My point is that you may have trouble selecting just one meal from a list of 1000 items that look similar.

For this reason, you need to focus on how you are going to select from these attorneys and choose one who will suit you and your needs very well. For one, I would work to hire an attorney who practices primarily or solely in family law. For instance, the attorneys with the law office of Brian Fagan practice 99% in family law. We work some in probate and estate planning but for the most part, our attorneys focus most of our time and attention on a family like clients just like you. Like anything else in life, there is a certain method of the representation lock case. Even otherwise experienced attorneys may not be completely familiar with these processes. A lack of familiarity with basic family law processes can not only cost you time in your case but then hard your overall outcome and cause you to spend more money than need be.

Beyond simply hiring a family law attorney I would make sure that you have an opportunity to meet with that attorney in person before ultimately paying him or her any money to represent you. I know that we are all familiar with doing things virtually these days. The pandemic has ushered in a new era of comfort in terms of virtual meetings and things of that nature. As a result, you may be very acclimated to meeting with a doctor or even your child teacher through a webcam visit. Our office has adjusted to technology, and we are more than happy to meet with you in a free-of-charge consultation on the phone or even using a webcam visit.

However, just because you can meet in this way does not mean it is preferable. A family law attorney will be learning intricate and very private information about you and your family. There is something to be said with having a level of trust with your attorney that, in my opinion, requires you to sit near her and get a feel for him or her as an individual. If I were the one in your shoes having to decide on a divorce or child custody case, I would want to not only trust the attorney but feel comfortable with him or her. Many attorneys may be extremely competent and it caused you to feel uncomfortable and therefore not ready to move forward with the divorce. To avoid putting yourself in positions like this I would recommend sitting by the attorney and asking him or her questions.

 It will be tempting to we want to do all of the talking in your situation. You have a lot on your mind and understandably you would like to know as much as you can about your circumstances and what the attorney can do to help you. I have sat with many people who have gone through as many of the circumstances as they can of their life as quickly as possible with me. Remember that just because you were sitting with an attorney in any consultation does not mean that he or she represents you at that point. With that said, I would recommend giving the attorney only the necessary details of your case. 

From there, the attorney can provide you with basic information that may help you to start a strategy that can translate into success in your circumstances. However, if you spend the entirety of your 30- or 45-minutes consultation providing the attorney with details that may not be relevant at that point you will lose the opportunity to hear from the attorney and learn more about what he or she thinks about your case. This would be a serious opportunity lost and something that may end up harming you in the long run.

Deciding about hiring an attorney

Once you have had an opportunity to meet with, talk to and then listen to several family law attorneys in your area you can feel more comfortable about deciding about whether you believe you need an attorney representing you in your case. The attorney’s office that you meet with may contact you back to see if you have any questions for them. Or the attorney may put the ball in your court and have you follow up with them for any questions.

I would also recommend that you speak to the attorney about attorney’s fees and a general timeline for a divorce or child custody case. You do not want to emotionally decide to move forward in a divorce or child custody case and then find out that he’s associated with representation, or any other financial circumstances may make it impossible for you to hire that attorney. Brother, I would talk with the attorney in advance to go over fees and other financial considerations. You will find that different attorneys come in at different budgets for different types of cases. The attorney who is right for you and your family is one that you feel comfortable with has the requisite level of experience and comes in at a price point that suits you and your family.

Once you hire an attorney, I would recommend that you speak with him or her about the best way to get ahold of your lawyer in the future. It is natural to do you have questions throughout your case into want updates on the progress up things throughout the life of your case. However, the reality of the situation is that your lawyer will not always be available to take every phone call you make and will not be able to respond immediately to every email you send. This is surely going to be frustrating for most everyone reading this blog post. 

With that said, you can talk to your attorney about their preferred methods of communication throughout a case. For example, if your attorney does their best to have Thursday afternoons free from meetings or court dates then you can work to get on his or her schedule for Thursday afternoon phone calls. Or, if you travel throughout the week and email works better for you then you can request that the attorney puts you on his or her calendar for a check-in email every week. I tell clients all the time that our attorneys understand that if you do not hear from us you can only assume that no work is being done on your case. All the while, your attorney may be diligently working on your case. Receiving an update from your attorney about your case every week is not unreasonable. What you need to do is express this expectation and work with your attorney to learn how he or she can best communicate with you moving forward. 

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.