Few people know what to expect when they file for divorce. Both spouses usually feel threatened during the divorce.
A high conflict litigated divorce can be emotionally and financially ruinous, make you a poor parent, and an unattractive future mate.
Telling the Kids
One of the most difficult parts of getting a divorce is telling the children. If they are older, they probably already know something’s wrong. If possible, both parents should tell the kids together. Agree about a script and stick with it. Tell your children that you still love them and will take care of them, even though you won’t be living together.
New Living Arrangements
Generally, one of you will have to move out of the family home. If you have to live in the same home, move into separate bedrooms and make them as comfortable as possible.
Choosing an Attorney
Find an experienced and qualified attorney to represent you. If you opt for a collaborative divorce, search the Collaborative Divorce Texas website and find two or three credentialed collaborative attorneys in your area to interview.
Many modern couples are choosing shared custody where each parent has the kids for a week, they share vacations, and each parent has a month with the children during the summer. The alternative is where one parent has primary custody of the children and the other parent sees them the first, third, and fifth week ends of each month, during vacations, and for an extended period during the summer.
Division of Assets
Texas courts must make a just and equitable division of the marital estate, but that doesn’t always mean 50/50. If one spouse earns less, is older or ill, the court may award more to that spouse.
Don’t Expect to “Win.”
Rarely does either spouse end up with everything they want in a divorce. One spouse may get custody of the children but no alimony so it’s impossible to know who won. Rather than trying to win in court, opt for a collaborative divorce where you and your spouse learn to cooperate, communicate, and co-parent.
Your living situation, social life, and standard of living will change. If you choose to litigate your divorce, you will probably end up hating your ex and having a hard time co-parenting. If you opt for a collaborative divorce, you can work out a fair compromise.
You Will Feel Like a Failure
You will look back and feel you have lost control of your life and sanity. But, whatever is happening, don’t put your children in the middle of the divorce, no matter how bad you feel.
Many couples recognize that an adversarial divorce is destructive of families so they are opting for a collaborative divorce. How do these two systems work?
A collaborative divorce offers privacy, lower cost, transparency, client control, convenience, preserving family relationships, protecting children, allowing creative settlement solutions and minimizing post-divorce conflicts. All communications are confidential. Professionals who want to protect their reputation; wealthy individuals with large estates they want to keep private; and anyone who has committed an indiscretion, such as adultery, will appreciate the benefit of keeping their personal life out of the court room by choosing a collaborative divorce.
During the first collaborative meeting, the collaborative team reviews expectations of conduct, discusses the collaborative family law participation agreement, and explores goals and interests. The parties sign the participation agreement and review the financial information needed for settlement. During the second joint meeting, the collaborative team and the parties identify issues, create settlement options, and compare the expected outcomes of each option with the clients’ stated goals and interests. During the next few collaborative meetings the team and parties negotiate a collaborative settlement agreement that meets the goals and interests of both parties. Finally, the parties sign an irrevocable collaborative settlement agreement summarizing the deal.
The first step in a litigated divorce is to file an original petition and serve it on the other spouse. Next, there will be a hearing before a judge to decide where the children will live while the divorce is ongoing, establish a visitation schedule until settlement or trial of the case, and determine how much temporary spousal and child support will be paid by one spouse to the other until the final divorce decree is entered. Following the hearing for temporary orders, attorneys exchange requests for discovery and that can cost substantial time and money. Once discovery is complete, the attorneys meet for settlement negotiations or the court will order the parties to mediation in an effort to settle the dispute.
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 closing arguments. Then, the court or jury decides the issues of the dispute, including who will have custody of the children, how the marital estate will be divided, the amount of child support to be paid, and what amount of spousal support, if any, is justified by the circumstances of the marriage. Finally, the attorneys will draft the Divorce Decree and Agreement Incident to Divorce to reflect the orders of the court.
A collaborative divorce can be a constructive way for a couple to end a broken marriage, divide their assets amicably, and co-parent their children effectively when the divorce is over. A collaborative divorce helps spouses communicate effectively and treat each other reasonably following the divorce. However, a litigated divorce can be destructive with the spouses hating each other, fighting all the time, and putting the kids in the middle.