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.
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.
Mr. Heiman practices Collaborative Law, should you be interested in that method of legal resolution.
Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce and Child Custody
Q1: For how long must a person live in Texas before he or she can obtain a divorce in Texas?
A: The wife, the husband, or both spouses must have lived in Texas for at least the most recent six months (this is referred to as “being domiciled in Texas”)
Had a home for at least the last ninety days, in the particular county in which the divorce case will be filed (this is what is meant by “being a resident” of that county).
My Search For a Divorce Lawyer
Guest post by Ellen R
When you’re in the middle of a marital crisis, the last thing you need is to hunt for the right divorce attorney. My husband and I had separated and were exchanging terse emails, and I felt traumatized and not up to much of anything let alone Googling and asking friends (when I was embarrassed to even admit I was in this place). I called a lawyer friend and she gave me a few names. I went to their websites and entered contact information and we set up a call. I was first shocked at the hourly rate – she had given me the names of some of the top lawyers in the city – and the questions. What was our net worth? Did my husband have a personality disorder? Could I pay $10,000 for a retainer…today? One lawyer I talked to told me I was about to have a $90,000 lesson and I should think of it like paying for a college degree…NOT what I wanted to hear. A loan I’d made my husband would have to be written off, he said.