The “collaborative law concept” is still relatively new to Texas, but has established itself as a viable alternative to divorce litigation when both parties are committed to: 1. resolving the issues of the case amicably; and 2. both parties act honorably and in good faith. Instead of a typical divorce where couples battle out their disputes publicly in a courtroom, collaborative law offers a calmer alternative of dispute resolution. In other words, it offers both a “no fault” and “no fight” divorce for clients who want to avoid conflict in the divorce process.
Deciding to divorce is a big decision. Once it has been made, proper preparation is, like with so many things in life, a key to making the outcome more likely to be positive for you and your family. And, yet, because it can be such an emotional decision, many people do not develop a plan for successfully moving through the process. This piece is designed to guide you in developing that plan.
Initially, it is important to go through this process before beginning the divorce. That is when issues can be pondered without having the pressure of a pending divorce affecting your decision-making
Step 1 Who will be your allies during this process? Divorce can be emotionally-taxing. One or both spouses may make emotional decisions that create chaos, confusion, or worse. It is easier to get through those times with allies---family members and friends who can provide support. It is also important to have people who you can talk to regularly; esp. if other family members and friends decide to not be there for you at this time. Having the support of allies help you to better weather the storms of your case.
Step 2 Do you understand the property matters? Do you have, or can you get, documentation (hard copy and/or virtual) pertaining to all debts and assets of the family? Car titles, mortgage statements, retirement and brokerage account statements, bank or credit union statements, loan applications, credit card bills, health and life insurance policies, and tax returns are all important to have. Do you know where to obtain any of those documents which you do not already have? Is there anyone who can assist you with this process? Be sure to store electronic versions of those documents in the cloud (such as via OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box), so that you can access them from anywhere that you have an internet connection
Many courts are not currently operating as they did before during this shutdown. They are, however, open, and processing some cases. Here, in Texas, our state courts are holding “essential” hearings, via Zoom. Essential hearings, in the context of Texas Family Law cases, consist of those concerning matters such as temporary restraining orders, CPS child removal, and applications for protective orders (due to allegations of family violence). All others, such as routine divorce temporary orders hearings, are presently not occurring before June 1, 2020.
Committed relationships, such as marriages, are bedrock institutions of our society. When these relationships are healthy, they provide us with joy, contentment, stability, connection, and opportunities for personal growth. But, unfortunately, not all such intimate relationships become, and remain, healthy for both partners. Continuing with our series, we will discuss today some additional warning signs, or bad omens, for marriages.
All good marriages have their ups and downs. That is normal and healthy, because it shows that both partners are committed to the marriage, vulnerable, and working on their relationship with one another. In a loveless marriage, by contrast, there is not an intimate connection nor commitment to the marriage, and so, it is easy to not care enough: about your spouse, nor the relationship, to get upset; to work to make things better. Strong emotion is evidence of a connection between two people. But, when is that connection worth fighting for? That is what this series of posts, which we begin today, is about.
We have been successfully handing divorce cases for our clients since 1991. Over that time period, we have literally represented hundreds of women. In fact, our very first divorce client was a woman who had a contested divorce case involving child issues. While representing women, we have noticed that certain issues arise more frequently for them as a group, than for men. This piece will discuss a few of those issues, and then, will offer additional information about how everyone should prepare for an upcoming divorce case.
When a divorce seems likely, we often are asked about whether one spouse might be required to make support payments for the other spouse. Although, some folks call such support payments “alimony,” Texas does not have an actual alimony system. Instead, Texas law provides for “Spousal Support.” While all of the differences between alimony and spousal support are beyond the scope of this piece, suffice it to say that spousal support is a considerably more limited support system than is traditional alimony.
We live in an age of do-it-yourselfers. Many folks paint their own homes, prepare their own taxes, and, work on their cars; all by themselves. This makes sense when the task or project to be accomplished can be done as competently by a non-professional, as by a professional. Some divorce cases fit that profile, and others do not. Let’s see when it makes sense to do your own divorce, and when it doesn’t.
Divorce cases have traditionally involved the husband and the wife each getting their own lawyer, filing a lawsuit for divorce, and then, treating the case much like any other civil case: setting hearings on preliminary matters that should be resolved early in the case; sending and responding to written discovery requests; taking depositions of each other, along with any other witnesses who know things that are important to the case; attempting to negotiate a settlement of the issues of the case; and finally, if no agreement has been reached, setting the case for a contested trial. Most Texas Courts also now require the parties and their lawyers in a divorce case to spend a full day in mediation prior to the trial date. These steps make up the Litigation Process. It is time-consuming and costly.
Either the husband or the wife may file for divorce in Texas. Sometimes, when it appears that divorce might be coming, we are asked whether it matters who files first. The short answer is: it does. While the burdens of proof and presenting evidence do not change based on who files first, other, important, tactical factors will vary.