Who are The Best Divorce Lawyers in Houston?
Most Houston divorce attorneys will avoid calling themselves the best attorney, it is unethical and frowned upon, and for good reason. Often it is not the case of who is the best divorce attorney, but rather who is the right fit for your case.
While we won’t speculate on who are the best divorce lawyers in Houston, we can tell you that Mathew Skillern, the spearhead of Skillern Firm, is Board Certified by the Family Law – Texas Board Of Legal Specialization, an accomplishment that only 1% of family lawyers in Texas have achieved. He also has the highest possible rating of 10.0, on the independent review site Avvo.com, and was voted Best Divorce Lawyer in Houston 2020 by Expertise.com.
Contact Skillern Firm Today
Choosing a divorce lawyer is difficult. It is important that they have the skills, resources, and experience necessary to navigate your case, but it is also important that they share your values and that you feel comfortable talking to them. After all, you may be spending a lot of time with your divorce attorney and they will be guiding you through personal and emotional family law matters.
Considering the long-term implications of the outcome of your divorce, choosing the right legal representation in Houston, TX is essential.
At Skillern Firm, we take the time to listen to your needs and provide both legal guidance and emotional support. We will answer your questions and stand by you through your divorce proceedings from start to finish.
To arrange an initial consultation with a Houston divorce attorney, contact our law office today at 936-213-8479.
Do I Need a Houston Divorce Lawyer?
It is rare for two people to separate without there being issues that ex-spouses find it difficult to agree upon. When you marry someone, your life becomes interconnected with theirs and separating the two while ensuring that both parties are financially secure and have shared time with their children, can be a challenge.
Issues such as child custody, spousal maintenance, property division, and child support are all common issues that can cause a rift between separating spouses. If parties find it hard to compromise, then they should have guidance throughout the divorce process.
Although Texas law does not require divorcing parties to have legal representation, we highly recommend it. A family law attorney who is trained in mediation can ensure that your rights, interests, and future are protected. They may also save you time and money on expensive court proceedings if you and your spouse cannot agree.
Factors such as child custody and property division are complex, but with an attorney from Skillern Firm by your side, you can be confident that a professional is guiding the case who has your best interests at heart.
In rare cases where a couple does not have any children or significant assets and they agree to all issues, then they may be able to file for a divorce online without any guidance. However, you should take this decision seriously. Once your divorce decree is in place, there will be legal obligations on you that are difficult to change. You should consider whether you will still be happy with the settlement in a few years time.
An experienced divorce lawyer in Houston, TX will file all your paperwork to ensure that it is completed on time and in line with up-to-date legislation. They will often mediate between you and your ex-spouse to help you come to amicable agreements, protecting your relationship, which is especially important if you have children. Finally, they will be prepared to take your case to trial if this is the only way to secure a fair settlement for your case.
No one should have to face the divorce process alone, and you don’t have to.
How Do I Choose the Right Houston Divorce Attorney For My Case?
Once you have made the decision to find a divorce lawyer, you are now faced with the prospect of choosing between all the potential candidates. This can feel overwhelming, but here are 10 steps to follow to help guide you through the process.
Step 1 – Consider What Type of Divorce is Right For You
Before you start researching potential Houston divorce lawyers, it is good to know what type of divorce you might decide to file, so that you can make sure you and your attorney are on the same page.
When you start researching divorce, it is important to remember that the internet is not always 100% accurate. However, it gives you a good starting point for looking at family law firms and seeking advice from attorneys.
Some couples may choose to legally separate, and end the bonds of marriage without serving it. They remain married but in a relaxed way that allows them to separate their assets and responsibilities to their children. However, this is not an option in Texas, where couples are expected to divorce in order to separate their lives.
Annulment is where marriage is considered void, which allows couples to move on as if the marriage never happened. Most people who choose this option, do so for religious reasons.
Texas will allow annulment if a couple are blood relatives, or if one party was already married to someone else, was under 18 at the time of marriage, got married under the influence or alcohol or drugs, or was under fraud or duress. Texas also allows annulment if one party is shown to be impotent or if either party suffers from mental incapacity.
Most separating couples in Texas file for a no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce means that neither party did anything particularly bad, but rather the marriage is ending on terms of in-supportability.
An at-fault divorce places blame on one party. Justifications for an at-fault divorce are: cruelty, adultery, a felony conviction, living apart for at least three years, admission into a mental health hospital, and abandonment.
A do-it-yourself divorce is where you don’t hire any professionals. We generally advise that you avoid this option unless you have no kids or significant assets.
Litigation is often the default option and involves an attorney-driven process with a lot of court involvement. This is usually the most expensive and time-consuming option and can put a lot of stress on everyone involved, including children.
Sometimes it is the only option, especially if your case involves domestic abuse or substance misuse.
Mediation is where you and your ex-spouse sit with a trained mediator, often an attorney, to help facilitate an agreement that is fair. You may find it hard to believe that you could come to an agreement with your ex-spouse, but most people are surprised by the resolutions they can reach with professional help.
At Skillern Firm, all of our attorneys are trained mediators. We will strive to help you come to personalized agreements that protect your future and your children’s interests. Where this is not possible, we will also be prepared to fight your case in court.
Step Two – Learn About Divorce
Before you begin your search, it may be helpful to understand the important issues in your divorce. That way, you can make sure your potential attorney has the experience necessary to handle your case.
Here are the most common aspects of divorce that your attorney can help you to navigate:
If you have children, then how you are going to handle their custody is probably your biggest concern. Emotions often run very high when it comes to deciding what is best for our children, and while everyone may have the same goal – to protect their best interest – it is common for warring spouses to disagree on what that means.
In Texas, there are two primary types of custody arrangements: sole and joint custody. Sole custody is an arrangement whereby one parent has the right to make all important decisions in their child’s life, including decisions regarding education, religion, and medicine.
They will also be the primary caregiver for the child, although the other parent may still have some visitation rights, even if they need to be supervised.
Joint custody is an arrangement where both parents share parenting rights and responsibilities. That means they both have input into important decisions, and they both care for the child for a substantial amount of time.
This often involves coming up with an arrangement where the child lives with one parent and the other is awarded regular visitation. For example, the other parent may have the child every other weekend and one evening each week. This will be pre-planned to keep consistency in the child’s life.
The court often favors a joint custody arrangement as it is considered to be in the child’s best interests for both parents to be involved in their lives unless there is a clear reason for one parent to not be involved. If you believe that you should have sole custody, then it is essential you have a divorce attorney who can help you to evidence your claims.
Married partners often take different roles when it comes to caring for their children. It is common for one partner to leave their job, deny promotions, or put their career on hold to care for the children, while the other works to provide financially.
That can mean that one spouse has a much higher income, and the other may rely on them to care for their children.
Both spouses are required to financially contribute to the upbringing of their children, which means that the higher learning spouse is usually required to pay child support to the other unless they care for the children for the majority of the time.
Spousal maintenance is not awarded in every divorce case, but where it is, it is designed to ensure that both spouses can maintain the standard of living they have become accustomed to while they were married. If you need spousal support to meet your needs, or you are being asked to provide spousal support unjustifiably, then you should seek help from a divorce attorney who can fight for your best interests.
Texas is a community property state, which means that upon divorce, everything you own is split into separate and marital property.
Separate property continues to belong to each individual even after their marriage has been finalized. It includes inheritance, gifts, and anything that you acquired before you married your spouse.
Community property in Texas is everything you or your spouse acquired while you were married. That includes pension funds, bank accounts, properties, businesses, stocks and bonds, and more.
In Texas, community property must be split in a ‘just and fair manner’. That does not mean splitting everything down the middle. Instead, many factors can be considered, such as each spouse’s contribution, the length of the marriage, each spouse’s needs, who is the primary caregiver of the children, and more.
Property division is one of the most complex issues of any divorce and requires a divorce attorney to ensure your interests are protected. If you have large assets, or you suspect your spouse might be hiding assets, then you need an attorney who has experience in these types of cases, and we can help.
Step 3 – Find a Law Firm Focused on Family Law in Houston, TX
The best divorce lawyers for your case are often focused only on family law, and local to you in Houston, TX.
Some attorneys do everything, from criminal defense to tax law, while this gives them a broad skillset, to navigate complex divorce cases, it is important that your divorce attorney is practicing family law every day and that they have handled numerous cases that have similarities to yours.
Some law firms also work across several states. However, family law matters involve a lot of complex state legislation, and so a local attorney is sure to have an in-depth understanding of the laws relevant to your divorce.
A local attorney can also mediate between you and your ex-spouse. You may feel much more comfortable talking with your attorney when you can meet them in person.
A final advantage of finding a local law firm is that they probably have experience working alongside the Judge that is overseeing your case, allowing them to tailor their advice based on their knowledge of them.
At Skillern Firm, family law matters in Texas are our sole focus.
Be Careful About Advertisements
There may be many law firms local to you, and it may be tempting to phone up from an advertisement you see. However, while large advertisements might be eye-catching, they do not always represent the best attorneys.
If you see an advertisement, receive a recommendation, or find a law firm on a Google search, then that is a great place to start.
However, it is important to follow these steps and do your research to ensure you find the right match.
Step 4 – Consider What’s Important in Your Case
Now that you have some understanding about Texas divorce, you have space to think about what important factors are going to affect your case. For example, are there complex assets or have you do you need to fight for a sole custody arrangement?
Consider the important factors of your case and look for an attorney who has specific cooperation. At Skillern Firm, we have a diverse team and will assign an attorney to your case who has the most experience in the issues that affect you.
If you have suffered domestic violence, or you are being wrongfully accused, then you need an attorney who understands the complexities of your case and is willing to give your case the dedication that it needs.
If necessary, we will act quickly to file an injunction with the court and keep your spouse away from you. We will also help you to evidence your claims so that the Judge is made aware of your experiences.
On the other hand, if you are wrongfully accused, we will fight for you to protect your rights and clear your name.
Step 5 – Check if They Have Any Awards
When you look at a law firm’s website, they usually have pages dedicated to their attorneys. This is where you can find out about their experience, if they have any particular focus in their practice, their professional associations, honors, and awards.
Some awards are peer-reviewed, which means that they have secured the achievement based on recommendations for other lawyers. These are good awards to look for as a lawyer would never recommend another lawyer unless they were confident in their abilities, otherwise it could tarnish their own reputation.
One such award is Super Lawyers, a national directory which works via a peer-review process to select around 5% of attorneys across all disciplines in the state. Our spearhead, Matthew Skillern, has achieved Texas Super Lawyers in Super Lawyers 2010-2011, 2015-2016, and 2016-2017.
Step 6 – Search Independent Review Sites
Most divorce lawyers can show you some glowing reviews from previous clients. However, they would never display anything negative on their site, so therefore, it is a good idea to search for your potential attorney on independent review sites.
Avvo.com is a good place to start. They rate lawyers between 1 and 10, basing their score on factors such as professional associations, client reviews, years in service, awards and more. Our spearhead, Matthew Skillern, has a rating of 10.0.
Step 7 – Prepare Questions to Ask Your Potential Divorce Attorneys
An experienced divorce attorney should be more than willing to answer your questions, and if you know what you want to ask before your initial consultation it will ensure that you get the most benefit from from your time, and that you can come away confident about your decision.
When you are considering what types of questions you might like to ask, you should consider factors such as their fees, values, experience, and accessibility.
You and your attorney should share the same values as it will ensure that you’re both working towards the same goals. In your initial consultation, your divorce lawyer should ask about what’s important to you so that they can determine whether they are a good match.
Skills in Negotiation and Mediation
The best way of navigating your divorce case could be with mediation and negotiation. Litigation is expensive, time-consuming, and often puts strains on relationships. Your ex-spouse may stay in your life, especially if you have children, so it is best if you can come to an agreement amicably.
Mediation also allows you to come to personalized arrangements that fit your lifestyle, rather than being dictated by a judge.
At Skillern Firm, our Houston family law attorneys are trained mediators.
Most cases end with a settlement, however, sometimes a trial is necessary. If your case does go to trial, you need to know that your attorney is prepared and won’t be afraid to take your case to court if that’s what’s needed. At Skillern Firm, we have extensive experience in family court and will never back down from a difficult case.
The best divorce lawyers in Houston, TX, are often in very high demand. They probably have full caseloads and may not be available 24/7. However, they should be able to manage their time and be prompt to answer your questions.
At Skillern Firm, we are dedicated to the attorney client relationship, which involves keeping you informed at every stage of your divorce case and being quick to answer your questions.
Example List of Questions
Once you have an idea of what’s important to you, you should prepare a simple list of questions. This will ensure that you get the information you need in your initial consultation. Some of the questions you could ask include:
- Have you handled cases similar to mine in the past?
- Do you have experience representing people in a family court?
- How much experience do you have in family law in Houston?
- What approach will you use for my divorce case?
- What would a good settlement look like for me and how do we get there?
- Can you show me testimonials from previous clients?
- Are you a trained mediator?
- What methods can I use to contact you, and how soon can I expect a response?
- Do you have any professional associations or honors?
Step 8 – Set Up Initial Consultations
Now you have done your research, you are ready to interview your potential attorney in an initial consultation.
This is an opportunity to get answers to your questions and to determine if they are the right fit for your case. It is equally important to consider how comfortable you feel talking to them.
Do you feel that you can talk to this person openly, without judgment? If not, you should probably look elsewhere. While research is very important, you should also trust your instincts.
Step 9 – Be Open To Changing Your Mind
Once you have chosen a law firm, you may feel that you cannot change your mind, even if you don’t like the direction your divorce attorney is taking.
If you have made the wrong choice, it’s ok to change attorneys. While this can be stressful and it’s not good to change your representation without a good reason, sometimes it is necessary, especially considering the important matters that you are looking to resolve.
Step 10 – Contact Skillern Firm
There is no way of determining the best divorce lawyer in Houston. It is important to do your research and find the right fit for your case.
You need an attorney who shares your values, is prompt to answer your questions, has vast experience in Texas family law, and who you feel comfortable speaking with.
At Skillern Firm, we are proud of our commitment to mediation and our dedication to the needs of our clients. We will work tirelessly to secure a positive settlement in your divorce and are here to guide you every step of the way.
Contact a Houston divorce lawyer at our law firm today and decide for yourself if we are the right fit for your case.
Call us now at 936-213-8479.