Do I Need a Lawyer for a Divorce?
Divorce is widely considered one of the most stressful events in someone’s life, particularly because it can be fraught with various complex challenges. It involves significant decisions and can often impact more than just the spouses involved.
Crucially, divorce is also a legal process. Family law incorporates numerous requirements for both parties. Like any legal process, hiring a dedicated divorce lawyer is often the best way forward.
When you hire a lawyer from Skillern Firm to assist in your divorce, you’ll not only benefit from many years of legal expertise in family law, but you’ll enjoy the reassurance of someone that is always working in your best interests. When divorce entails separation from a person you were once close with, it’s incredibly valuable to have someone you can rely on by your side.
Our office handles all types of divorce cases across Texas, and we’re ready to place all that knowledge and expertise at your disposal.
Call us today at 936-213-8479 so our attorneys can start providing the legal information you need to move forward.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer for a Divorce
When you face an important life event, it’s vital to call upon a knowledgeable party to achieve the best possible outcome. Not only can retaining a lawyer make life easier in trying times, but they’ll can also ensure you have access to full and complete information in the eyes of family law. This often means that the entire divorce process, regardless of circumstance, will take place on a level playing field.
There are some cases where appointing a divorce lawyer is essential.
Your Spouse Has Already Hired a Divorce Attorney
If your spouse hires an attorney, then it’s imperative that you do the same. If you fail to do so, they may gain the upper hand in a legal context, potentially leading to an unfair outcome.
Their decision to hire an attorney for the upcoming divorce case indicates that they suspect the process may not be straightforward and it would be a disadvantage if the other party has access to legal support when you do not.
Disagreements Over Child Support and Custody
Any divorce that involves children under the age of 18 requires complete agreement on child custody in both legal and physical senses. In the case of the former, this means who makes decisions about health, welfare, and other significant life events. The latter dictates where a child or children will live following the divorce.
There may also be financial implications involving children. A divorce attorney can be particularly helpful in these cases, as any child support agreement must be considered according to state guidelines.
Division of Property and Debts
Money is among the top five biggest reasons for divorce. For example, one spouse may be accused of wasting marital funds or misusing marital assets.
A divorce agreement will not necessarily fix financial issues, but it may raise new ones. In most cases, any property gained during the marriage is considered a marital asset. Texas is a community property jurisdiction, meaning that any property gained is subject to a ‘just and fair’ division.
Human nature dictates that both parties will be more interested in keeping what they own, and less concerned with their share of debts. Any disagreements around a family’s assets can soon spiral into a significant legal issue, hindering an ongoing divorce proceeding.
If you and your spouse decide to appoint a divorce lawyer, they may ultimately work together to resolve outstanding financial issues.
While a divorce involving minor children will often involve ongoing payments following finalization, this can also happen even when children are not involved.
If there is a significant imbalance in earnings, the higher-earning individual may have to pay the other spouse a fixed sum, either temporarily or on an ongoing basis. Essentially, this is to ensure that each spouse can maintain something as close to their married standard of living as possible.
Texas family law does not guarantee spousal support as a right, and it is often up to attorneys to determine and encourage an agreement between both parties.
Filing for Divorce in Texas
Part of what makes divorce so stressful, and why lawyers often get involved, is that it can be a long and arduous process. There are often legal processes to overcome, along with periods of waiting where divorces cannot proceed to the next stage.
Divorce lawyers will be able to outline the process and how it applies to you as an individual as soon as you commence the attorney-client relationship. However, here are the key considerations at each stage.
Understand If You Qualify for the Divorce Process
Under Texas law, at least one party must have resided in the state for at least six months prior to filing. Similarly, at least one spouse must have lived in the county in which divorce is filed for at least 90 days.
There is also a consideration of child protection prior to filing, as the law dictates that a divorce cannot be finalized while a spouse is pregnant.
Determine the Grounds for Divorce
It is possible to file for a no-fault divorce if the marriage is no longer viable. However, in any other case, it is imperative to hire a lawyer. They can advise on the best way to report grounds for divorce in the context of how the court may interpret it.
Decide Where to File
The state’s District Courts have jurisdiction over divorce proceedings in Texas. Consider the conditions outlined above concerning residential status and location, then decide where to file.
In smaller counties, there may be only one court option. However, if you live in a part of the state with a Family District Court, you will likely file there instead. Again, your attorney will be able to advise on the specifics.
Complete the Necessary Paperwork – Your Divorce Lawyer Can Help
Another significant factor behind the complexity of divorce is the sheer amount of paperwork. At the most basic level, the Supreme Court provides different forms for those with children, without them, and without children or marital property.
The process will begin with a Civil Case Information Sheet, followed by the Original Petition for Divorce and then the Information on Suit Affecting the Family Relationship.
These documents are then filed with the court, and the spouse receives a copy of the Petition.
Work With Your Spouse or Their Attorney to Finalize the Paperwork
Ultimately, a divorce requires an agreement between both parties, whether they reach that decision independently or in front of a judge. Depending on the nature of the case, both spouses may be able to come to an agreement with support from their attorneys. In more complex cases, they may leave it to their lawyers to work directly with each other.
Either way, it’s always a good idea to have a divorce lawyer look over the forms before submission. Once complete, the forms are filed at the clerk’s office at the local courthouse, selected earlier in the process, along with the necessary filing fees.
Attend a Legal Hearing
No matter the nature of the divorce, both parties need to appear at a court hearing in front of a judge, even if only to confirm their agreement to the filed forms.
This may be a short hearing in cases where you and your spouse agree on everything contained in the filing. This is not a trial, and successful mediation or otherwise coming to an agreement in conjunction with both lawyers can make this a relatively unobtrusive part of the case.
However, in cases where there are still details to finalize, it may be up to the respective attorneys to present to the judge.
There’s a mandatory 60-day wait period for all divorces in Texas, with the time limit starting from the day the Petition is filed. This may also involve supplemental terms as outlined by the court, such as parenting classes for those filing for divorce when they have young children.
Finalize the Divorce Process
Once 61 days have passed, it is up to the individual and their attorney to prepare the Divorce Decree for the judge to sign. In some cases, especially those involving minor children, it may be necessary to complete additional forms confirming custody, property, and other specific elements following the marriage.
Understanding Your Rights With a Divorce Lawyer
As well as aiding the progression of a divorce, when you hire an attorney, they will also work to ensure your rights are protected. They understand the law, particularly specific information related to the state of Texas, and how it applies to you and your spouse.
They can outline your options in each case. Generally speaking, while a divorce can end up at trial, attorneys will generally attempt to avoid that outcome unless your spouse is particularly against reaching an amicable decision.
Even when disagreements between spouses remain, they may suggest less stressful and intrusive resolutions, such as mediation.
As part of mediation, each spouse and their attorney can discuss the case with a third party before getting divorced, without necessarily divulging confidential relationship information. Essentially, it’s an effort to work out all elements of the case before going to court, leading to a far simpler process.
When Is the Best Time to Hire an Attorney or Law Firm?
As with any legal case, sooner is almost always better when hiring attorneys. It’s easy for an upcoming divorce to play on your mind or hamper your lifestyle. The sooner your attorney is in place, the quicker they can start providing support and guidance.
Even if you have already commenced the process without support from divorce lawyers, they can join at any stage to ensure the case proceeds as you would hope.
Divorce Cases Involving Domestic Violence
In divorce cases where violence or threats are involved, it’s vital to seek safety first, then enlist the assistance of an attorney at the earliest possible opportunity. Domestic violence is a legal matter in its own right, and your lawyer will be able to help in securing a temporary restraining order.
This can be taken into account during proceedings. While Texas is, as noted, a community property state, the actions of one spouse may affect the division of marital property when the case arrives in court.
Getting to safety and following the legal process is the priority. Your attorney can provide additional guidance, but a court will not look down upon anyone that withdraws money from a joint account and seeks immediate support.
Hire a Divorce Lawyer From Skillern Firm Today!
Divorce is always a sensitive subject, and seeking out legal representation that will work in your best interests is vital. There are many important issues involved when you get a divorce, and a lawyer from Skillern Firm can help you throughout your divorce case from the initial filing to finalization.
No matter which stage of divorce you’re at, the support and expertise of an experienced attorney can be invaluable. We will work with you to assist with everything from paperwork to negotiation, and everything else a divorce entails.
Divorces are rarely easy, but your attorney at Skillern Firm will do everything possible to make your divorce as comfortable as can be, all in pursuit of the best possible outcome.
Our office is standing by to take your call, so reach out today at 936-213-8479 to get the proceedings underway.