Both parties are frustrated during a divorce, because the spouse who wants the divorce feels the process is too slow, and the spouse who wants to save the marriage wants to slow things down. Ultimately, the outcome of your divorce will depend on whether you choose a collaborative or an adversarial divorce. A collaborative divorce offers many benefits, including privacy, lower cost, transparency, client control, convenience, preserving family relationships, protecting children, allowing creative settlement solutions and minimizing post-divorce conflicts. In contrast, a litigated divorce exposes you to the vagaries of the court house, often makes spouses hate each other, can involve the children in a destructive custody fight, and litigation costs more than a collaborative divorce.
Telling Children About the Divorce. Breaking the news about a divorce to the children is difficult. If they are older, the children may sense something bad is happening. Its best if both of you talk to your children at the same time and present a united front. Make certain they know it’s not their fault and that you will love them after the divorce is finished. Also, inform the children’s school so they will know what is happening in the family. Finally, explain to the children what the future living arrangements will be so they won’t be confused.
Courts Move in Strange Ways. The world of divorce litigation includes lawyers, judges, discovery fights, custody disputes, court hearings, settlement negotiations, mediation, and possibly a costly trial. To survive a divorce, you need to understand the basics of Texas family law and find a competent attorney to represent you.
Be Prepared. Your attorney will need lots of information, including tax returns, account statements, lists of your real and personal property, and a description of how parenting duties are shared between you and your spouse, You should also collect credit card statement, documents showing your monthly earnings, a list of monthly expenses, and any debts you owe.
Hire a Divorce Attorney. Find the right attorney to guide you through your divorce. A collaborative attorney will be cooperative, maintain good family relationships, avoid damage to your children, protect your confidentiality, and offer flexible scheduling. However, if you don’t trust your spouse, you are angry at him or her, and you can’t compromise, you may need a litigation attorney. An experienced attorney with an organized approach will cost less than a cheaper lawyer with no plan.
The Collaborative Process. During a collaborative divorce, a team of two attorneys, a financial and a mental health professional explain the collaborative process, review expectations of conduct, discuss goals and interests, and collect financial and personal information. Next the team and parties review the financial information, identify issues, create settlement options and negotiate a settlement agreement that meets the goals and interests of both parties. Following settlement, the attorneys jointly draft the Divorce Decree and Agreement Incident to Divorce and get the parties divorced.
The Litigation Process. The first step in a litigated divorce is to file an original petition and serve it on the other spouse. The spouse who was served must file a response. Next comes a temporary hearing to decide where the children will live, establish a visitation schedule until final settlement or trial of the case, and determine how much temporary support or child support will be paid. Attorneys also exchange requests for discovery and hold hearings. Discovery disputes can consume substantial time and money if the parties disagree about what to produce. Once discovery is complete, the attorneys will agree to settlement negotiations or the court will order the parties to mediation. About eighty percent of litigation cases settle at this point. If the parties disagree about custody, the court may order a social study to determine which parent should receive custody of the children.
The Divorce Trial. If the parties are unable to settle their dispute, the court will set the case for trial. At trial, both parties make opening statements, put on witnesses, introduce evidence and make a closing argument. Then, the court or jury decides the issues of the dispute. Finally, the attorneys will draft the Divorce Decree and Agreement Incident to Divorce.
Divorce is a serious business and you should only file after you have tried marital counseling and worked to make your marriage succeed. None of us gets married expecting to face a divorce, but nearly half of marriages don’t last. File for divorce only if something is seriously wrong with your marriage and it can’t be fixed. Good reasons to divorce include abuse, infidelity, loss of trust, disrespect, and contempt.