As you face your divorce, the desire to put off the legal concerns of the situation is understandable. After all, divorce is one of the most emotionally trying situations a person can experience, regardless of the circumstances of the separation. In fact, even when uncontested, a divorce can be a difficult experience.
For that reason, it’s crucial that you secure a divorce attorney as soon as possible. A skilled Texas divorce attorney will not only have a firm grasp of the legal aspects of the divorce process but will understand the difficult situation you’re experiencing. They will help you ensure the divorce process is as straightforward and manageable as possible.
Of course, divorce isn’t always simple and uncontested—most divorcing couples experience numerous different complicating factors throughout the course of their proceedings. For example, if you and your ex-spouse have minor children, you’ll need to address issues such as child custody or child support before your divorce decree is finalized. If you owned property or a business together, you will need to devote special attention to each during asset division.
If you’re facing a divorce in Fort Bend County, Harris County, or surrounding areas, including the Sugar Land, Katy and Houston, Texas areas, reach out to the expert divorce attorneys at The Love DuCote Law Firm as soon as possible. Our team of family law attorneys has years of experience providing area residents with compassionate, comprehensive legal representation for divorce, child custody, child support, and many other critical legal matters. Learn more about our divorce services below, then contact the Love DuCote Law Firm office to schedule a consultation.
Why Should I Hire a Divorce Attorney?
As mentioned above, the reasons to hire a divorce lawyer are numerous, no matter the circumstances of your own separation. Here are just a few of the many reasons to work with an attorney if you’re going through a divorce:
Your Attorney Will Guide You Through the Legal Process
Divorce is far more than just a personal issue—it’s the end of a legal contract between you and your ex-partner. For that reason, while it can be easy to get caught up in the mental toll divorce can take on you, blindly navigating the legalities rarely ends well.
Inexperience with legal proceedings is a prime reason nearly every divorcing person can benefit from working with an expert who understands the complex legal aspects of divorce—namely, an experienced divorce attorney.
As anyone who has ever experienced family court will know, family law is certainly a diverse legal field with many complexities that can arise during court proceedings. While you are permitted to represent yourself in family court, this is rarely a wise decision. If you don’t know how to navigate family court, representing yourself can mean missing critical filing deadlines, inaccurate documentation, and more. Worse, without an experienced attorney at your side, your child custody arrangement or property division determination could be far removed from your goal—all because you were unaware of how to present your case to a judge.
A skilled divorce attorney, who practices in Fort Bend County, Harris County, or surrounding areas, including the Sugar Land, Katy and Houston, Texas areas, knows exactly what the local family court judges are looking for, and what they prioritize when making their final decisions. Your divorce attorney will ensure you meet all filing deadlines, present a clear, accurate case to the judge, and help you secure a favorable or mutually agreeable divorce settlement.
Your Attorney Presents An Objective Point of View to Keep You Grounded
Divorces can be extremely emotional, even if you are eagerly anticipating the end of your marriage. There’s nothing wrong about feeling the psychological weight of the experience before, during, and after divorce. Unfortunately, emotions can cloud your judgment and result in poor decision making at any stage of life—including your divorce proceedings.
When you represent yourself, this issue is compounded. It can be incredibly easy to become swept up in your feelings, rather than approach the case efficiently and in your own best interests. This is especially true during a contentious divorce, where you frequently find yourself disagreeing with your ex-spouse. Focusing on petty disagreements can distract you from your goals for the divorce process and prevent you from securing a favorable settlement.
Instead, put the experience and objectivity of a divorce attorney to work for you. Your divorce attorney will advocate on your behalf and ensure every decision made during the divorce process is logical and beneficial to your case. Meanwhile, you can focus on your and your family’s healing during this difficult time.
Your Attorney Can Handle Complex Asset Division
No matter your financial circumstances, asset division is a component of divorce that everyone must face. Of course, for some individuals, dividing assets proves much more complicated than for other divorcing couples. For example, high-asset divorce cases are rarely straightforward and notorious for becoming contentious. Still, it’s surprisingly common for middle income couples to experience roadblocks during the asset division process.
When you begin divorce proceedings without a divorce lawyer, it can be difficult to determine which assets and debts rightfully belong to you. However, an experienced divorce attorney is familiar with the court’s asset division process and can help you produce a detailed list of assets and determine what you’re entitled to. If your ex-spouse is hiding assets, your attorney can arrange for a forensic accountant to provide expert witness testimony to highlight any wrongdoing.
Your Attorney Can Help You Secure Child Custody or Child Support
Asset division isn’t the only complex matter that needs to be addressed during divorce proceedings. If you and your partner have minor children, you will need to come to an agreement on child custody, child support, and other important issues before your divorce decree is final. However, without knowledgeable legal representation to help you assert your rights, you risk an unfair child custody or child support determination.
Individuals unfairly denied adequate child custody or child support risk damaging their relationships with their children as well as their children’s well-being. Having a skilled child custody attorney by your side can help you secure a fair outcome that meets your needs and secures your child’s best interests.
What Are the Primary Types of Texas Divorce Cases?
Divorce is far from a “one size fits all” scenario. In reality, divorces exist along a wide range—some are highly contentious and contested, while others are amicable enough to be handled entirely through mediation. The unique circumstances of the divorcing couple—including assets, children, and more—can heavily impact the divorce proceedings.
Before you begin the divorce process, it is wise to develop an understanding of which type of divorce best fits your circumstances. Then, you can proceed with a better sense of how your case may unfold. In general, there are six primary types of divorce cases Texas residents may experience:
1. Default Divorce
In some instances, one member of a couple desires a divorce while the other is resistant to the proceedings. As a result, the resistant individual may refuse to comply or refuse delivery of the initial filing. Fortunately, if one individual fails to cooperate with divorce proceedings or refuses service, this isn’t a permanent roadblock to the divorce.
Rather, family court will provide the unresponsive spouse with a particular amount of time to respond to the filing. If they refuse to respond to the filing or otherwise cannot be located within the allotted time frame, the spouse who filed will be granted a default divorce by the Texas court. Neither spouse must file asset disclosures, and the unresponsive spouse loses their right to contest the divorce decree—in most cases, this means the filing spouse can set the terms of the divorce settlement.
2. Uncontested Divorce
For an uncontested divorce to occur, both members of the couple must agree with the initial filing. They should be willing and able to cooperate with the proceedings and also mutually agree to the divorce terms.
In some circumstances, couples anticipating an uncontested divorce choose to craft their own divorce documents or have them drawn up by a mediator instead of securing an attorney. However, it is critical to have an experienced professional review the divorce agreement before submitting any documents to the court. Finally, the court can choose to approve the documents or request a modification before issuing the final divorce decree.
Keep in mind that an uncontested divorce isn’t always the best course of action. First, it’s essential that both members of the divorcing couple are on good terms and that they’re able to communicate openly and honestly with one another without harsh disagreement. Any agreement regarding asset division must also be in compliance with restrictions set forth by Texas law.
In addition, couples with children often find an uncontested divorce challenging to achieve, simply because child custody and child support issues are so contentious. Many couples struggle to agree on either child custody or support, and both such agreements must be approved by Texas family courts to ensure they are in the best interests of the children involved. Even if the individuals aren’t on negative terms, it can be extremely difficult to work through these issues without litigation.
Before opting for an uncontested divorce, make sure that you are familiar with the risks. Without legal guidance and the corresponding protection you would receive, it can be all too easy to give up your rights to child custody or support without realizing it. You also risk losing critical assets without the advice of a property and asset division attorney. Finally, in some cases, the divorce agreement may prove impractical or impossible to maintain as soon as the divorce is finalized.
3. Mediated Divorce
Many divorcing couples with assets or family structures that make uncontested divorce impractical can benefit from mediation. Keep in mind that, much like an uncontested divorce, mediated divorces aren’t for every couple. Rather, mediation is most beneficial for couples on amicable terms with one another, or for those who are at least willing to collaborate on a divorce agreement.
In a mediated divorce, both spouses are able to choose and hire their own respective attorneys. Alongside their attorneys, the couple will work with a trained, third-party mediator. This mediator will help to guide the conversation and negotiation process, making it easier for the divorcing couple to reach a fair agreement. The mediator will not direct the conversation or provide legal advice but will instead serve as a neutral third party to keep the conversation on track.
Unlike with an uncontested divorce, those who opt for a mediated divorce will experience the essential protection of having a trained divorce attorney at their side. As a result, each individual will be far less likely to unknowingly reach an unfair agreement. This is particularly relevant when it comes to the division of assets and discussions regarding child support and child custody, since each of these issues can be resolved according to Texas law before being finalized by the family court.
Of course, if one or both individuals is unwilling to compromise, a mediated divorce is not a viable option and litigation will become necessary.
4. Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce resembles a mediated divorce in a number of ways. However, collaborative divorces tend to involve more third-party participants than a typical mediated divorce, which only utilizes a single third-party mediator. In addition to attorneys and a qualified mediator, a collaborative divorce might also involve:
- Financial Advisors
- Child Advocates
During collaborative divorces, one issue will be addressed at a time. Ideally, each meeting with a third-party participant will cover a specific concern, which may necessitate the couple scheduling several meetings to reach an agreement. For this reason, collaborative divorces tend to take considerably more time than a standard mediated divorce.
Before a couple decides upon a collaborative divorce in Texas, it’s vital that they are confident they can work together to complete the divorce on mutually agreeable terms from start to finish. If at any point in the process, the collaborative divorce fails, the individuals will be required to hire new attorneys and begin litigation. Any issues decided upon during the collaborative divorce process will be eliminated, forcing the couple to start over. This can present a substantial loss of both time and money.
5. Arbitrated Divorce
Arbitrated divorces are the middle ground between mediated or collaborative divorce and litigation. Much like during mediation, the couple will be required to participate in a guided discussion so that they can work to reach an agreement. While arbitration is more costly than mediation, it is still often less expensive than litigation.
However, unlike during a mediated divorce, the divorcing couple doesn’t have the final say in the agreement. Rather, an arbitrator will be involved in the process and will function much like a judge would during divorce litigation. This means that the arbitrator will hear discussion before arriving at a legally binding decision. The couple must adhere to the arbitration whether or not they are in agreement.
6. Litigated Divorce
Most people unfamiliar with divorce envision a heated divorce case taking place entirely in a courtroom—this is an example of a litigated divorce. Litigated divorce cases occur in a courtroom and are overseen by a judge, who will have the final say in the divorce agreement. Generally, divorce cases that utilize litigation are contested. This means that the couple is in disagreement regarding one or more conditions, and they are unable or unwilling to compromise with one another. Complex divorce cases, such as high asset divorce or divorces featuring child custody and child support issues, are at high risk for being contested and, thus, for requiring litigation.
Unlike mediation or arbitration, the discussions held during the divorce process are recorded and viewable by the public. The judge will have the final say over major issues, such as:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Division of property
- Alimony or spousal support
- Other terms, as necessary
As a result, litigation leaves both parties at risk of being dissatisfied with the final agreement. However, litigation is sometimes the only option. For example, litigation is the best course of action in instances of:
- Violence or abuse
- A spouse or attorney acting in bad faith
- An unwillingness to compromise
In addition to their public nature and the overall lack of control available to the divorcing spouses, litigated divorces are often the most time-consuming and expensive option. An experienced Texas divorce attorney will often advise couples to examine the other possibilities first. However, should you need to litigate your divorce, you can rest assured your divorce attorney will guide you through the process and help you reach a favorable outcome.
Hire a Top Texas Divorce Attorney | The Love DuCote Law Firm
If you are facing divorce in Fort Bend County, Harris County, or surrounding areas, including the Sugar Land, Katy and Houston, Texas areas, then The Love DuCote Law Firm is your best choice for skilled representation. Our team of Texas divorce attorneys has an impressive forty years of cumulative experience securing favorable divorce terms for our clients. No matter your circumstances, you can rest assured you will receive compassionate, responsive representation throughout the course of your divorce proceedings.
Interested in a consultation? Reach out to The Love DuCote Law Firm online today.