What to expect with your divorceIn Texas, the divorce process begins with filing a petition for divorce in a family court and ends with the judge signing the divorce decree. Texas requires that process take at least sixty days although divorces usually take a little longer while the parties negotiate an agreement on property division and children. What happens in between the filing of the petition and signing the decree depends on several factors, including: the complexity of your assets (and debts); whether you have children; and perhaps most importantly, how agreeable the spouses can be to negotiating informally between themselves and their lawyers. In very agreeable divorces all the issues can be worked out without substantial cost or involvement. In less agreeable divorces there may be formal mediation, arbitration, or a full blown trial before the family court. The difference in time, cost and frustration for you can be substantial between a very smooth divorce and a divorce where every issue is a major battle. That is one reason why being reasonable can pay off for you in multiple ways. However, no matter how reasonable you are your spouse may be less reasonable and drag the process out on his or her own. This is why I encourage clients to work with me to strategically plan out an approach that drives towards your goals without unnecessarily wasting your time and money. I could tell you every possible step in the divorce process that could occur but I prefer to approach your divorce as a unique process rather than a generic process. We can and will discuss the likely process you can expect to see your divorce follow during a consultation. There are certain steps we will take if you have children but we can pass those steps if you don't. If you have complex financial or land assets it may be necessary to have professional valuation of your assets but if you have moderate assets the additional expense may be unnecessary. You want the path to the divorce decree to be as efficient and painless as possible. I can't tell you which path is yours until we have had an opportunity to discuss your family and your goals.
Divorces have substantial financial effects. Not only are financial assets divided but each spouse will have to create a separate household with its own source of income to finance the every day costs of life. Many people are unprepared for this change in lifestyle and even if prepared may not have the financial ability to carry on as though nothing has changed. Credit cards, mortgages, loans and other expenses obtained during the marriage have to be paid after the divorce. A divorce strategy should include these financial concerns to help clients land on their feet as best they can during and after a divorce.
The division of marital property is a big part of the negotiations in a divorce. It is about more than arguing over who gets the TV and the furniture. All of the marital property is up for grabs, including the house, bank accounts, retirement accounts and even the marital debts. I assist clients in developing a negotiation strategy to help them obtain the property that matters most. The property divided in a divorce includes real estate, financial assets, debts and personal property. This division can be very simple or very complex depending on the property and each spouse's desire to keep certain property.
If you have children with your spouse you will most likely want to keep the right to make decisions for your children and maintain a relationship with them. These rights are also heavily disputed in divorces and you cannot assume the court will just give you the rights you want. A strategic approach is necessary to protect your parental rights and interests. During the divorce we will work together to decide which parent has what rights to make decisions for the children (known as conservatorship), visitation rights and child support.
The paperwork and court appearances are formalities in your divorce. The planning and negotiation counsel I can provide you go beyond the formalities to make sure your rights and interests are protected. You may be tempted to buy forms or use a fill-in-the-blank website to complete your divorce paperwork but those options do not help you determine your rights under Texas law or negotiate a favorable settlement.
Common Divorce Myths
- I don't need a lawyer, the judge can just decide how to split everything. Yes, the judge or a jury can make the decisions about how to split up your assets and family but it doesn't make much sense to let a stranger or group of strangers decide how much of your assets and relationship with your children you deserve.
- The judge will just split everything 50/50. Not necessarily. Judges only have to make "just and right" divisions of property and do not have to split authority and access to your children evenly.
- The judge will give the mom primary custody over the children because she's the mom. Not always. The law does not require the judge to award the mom primary care for the children. The judge must consider many factors to determine what is in the best interest of the children and each judge approaches those factors differently.
- I can keep the kids away from the other parent. Unless there is a danger to the children both parents will have some form of access to the children.
- Hiring attorneys means fighting over every little detail. Attorneys are not interesting in fighting over every item in your house (at least this one isn't). You will fight over as much or as little in your divorce as you and your spouse choose to fight. I prefer less fighting and more negotiation over the major issues.
- I cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Can you afford not to hire a lawyer? Are you willing to leave it up to a stranger to decide what property is yours and how much access to your children you should have? Over the long term the expense of hiring a lawyer may be much less than the cost of your financial situation and lost opportunities to exercise your parental rights if you do not hire legal counsel.
What you can expect when you hire The Kielich Law Firm
- Strategic divorce counsel: I do not give every client the same plan for divorce because every client is different. You will receive custom planning and strategy based upon your situation and goals.
- Value: I realize most of my clients are not wealthy enough that they can write a blank check to cover the legal fees for their divorce. I understand it is an expensive process for my clients. I take the costs of divorce into consideration when planning your divorce so we can work towards an effective and efficient result with the value of your time, money and needs in consideration.
- Service: Unlike many lawyers I work very hard at maintaining an open line of communication with my clients. I believe it's a fundamental part of a successful strategy. I need to understand your situation to help you. I can't do that if we aren't communicating. The common complaints some people have about their lawyers is that they can't ever talk to them or the lawyer acts like they don't care. My clients don't have those complaints.