There are a number of crucial mistakes that can seriously derail your divorce and impact every aspect of your life following the dissolution of your marriage. Although you are not required to retain an attorney to proceed through the divorce process in Texas, an experienced Houston family law attorney can provide legal advice and representation so that you make informed decisions and protect your rights. We have provided some examples of the most common mistakes made during the divorce process:
Failing to Be Candid with Your Divorce Attorney: Most people have information relevant to the divorce process that is less than flattering or that they may feel is insignificant. However, the function of your divorce attorney is not to judge or criticize you but to provide sound advice and advocate for your interest. For example, your attorney is not going to judge you because you were involved in an extra-marital affair, however, it can be difficult to mitigate or anticipate how to handle the issue if you fail to disclose this information to your divorce attorney. When you withhold information from your attorney that may be damaging, you compromise the quality of their advice as they are operating without all of the facts. Undisclosed facts can severely undermine your attorney’s efforts to effective represent you in your divorce case. For example, if this information is disclosed late in the process (perhaps even for the first time in open court during a hearing or trial) this creates a problem that is more detrimental and difficult to resolve than if your attorney had anticipated its disclosure and had developed a plan to explain or mitigate the consequences of the situation. When it comes to financial information regarding your income, assets and debts, there are mandatory disclosure requirements. Hiding or omitting disclosure of these assets could actually result in monetary sanctions so it is advisable to entrust your attorney with all information even if does not seem important, is embarrassing or if you think no one will ever discover your hidden assets. Even after the divorce is final, a spouse may have the ability to come back and seek their fair share of undisclosed or hidden assets. The best advice is to speak candidly with your attorney regarding all of these types of issues to mitigate or avoid problems.
Allowing Emotions to Dictate Your Decisions: When you are coping with divorce, you are likely to experience a wealth of conflicting emotions, including pain, anger, jealousy and fear regarding the future. Despite these emotional challenges, a final divorce judgment in your case will provide an opportunity to move forward with your life. Believe me, we understand that it is easy for us to advise you to put your anger aside and not vent your emotional wrath on a spouse you feel has wronged you in some way. However, we can say that experience shows us this is beneficial for many reasons. For example, if you do end up in a court battle, the judge is going to appreciate the fact that you were not the verbally abusive spouse or the individual texting nasty, mean and demoralizing comments to your partner. Additionally, when you are able to put aside intense emotions, it can lead to more workable co-parenting arrangements with the other parent. Factual analysis not dictated by intense emotion also can promote better decisions on financial issues and prevent the deterioration of negotiations perhaps leading to a more favorable property division.
Avoid Assuming Your Spouse Is Your Friend: The marital dissolution process can be confusing so the tendency to talk to your spouse is understandable given the familiarity and the desire to work out the controversy between yourselves. While an amicable divorce has many advantages, it is important not to forget that divorce is an adversarial proceeding. Information that you provide to your spouse may be turned against you. Remember some issues may be confidential and best shared with your attorney before talking to a spouse about it. Sometimes a spouse will try to take advantage of the other party when negotiating directly by playing your feelings or exploiting your anger to trick you into giving away a tactical plan you and your attorney have developed for trial. Even if you and your spouse reach an agreement on the issues in your marital dissolution, you should seek legal advice and have an attorney review the terms and language of any marital settlement agreement. You may get “played” and be convinced to give up more than you should and end up with an agreement that is not truly fair and equitable to you—and you may end up later regretting your agreement.
Forming Realistic Expectations: Many times people involved in the divorce process have unrealistic expectations based on media depictions of divorce as well as stories from friends and families. Parents often plan to seek sole custody and/or limit the other parent to supervised visitation. While this type of parenting arrangement may occur in extreme situations involving substance abuse, domestic violence, prior child abuse or neglect and other similar circumstances, Texas courts favor frequent and continuing contact by both parents. Frequently, a spouse who was the high wage earner during the marriage will resent the notion of continuing to support one’s spouse following divorce by paying some type of spousal support. Generally, the more one party supports the other financially during marriage and the longer the duration, the greater one’s spousal support obligation may be in a divorce. An experienced Houston divorce attorney can set more realistic expectations in terms of the range of possible outcomes on such issues. Our office is experienced at helping those who need spousal support obtain it as well as protecting parties who are being victimized by a spouse making unreasonable and unmerited demands for some sort of spousal support that they may not be entitled to.
If you have questions about divorce in Houston, Galveston, Angleton, Richmond or anywhere throughout Harris County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County or Chambers County, Lori Laird works diligently to guide her clients through the divorce process so that they can rebuild their life. Call 832-699-1966 today for your confidential consultation or visit our website to learn more about our firm at lorilaird.com.