The purpose of this post is to offer only high-level support and guidance as you begin this chapter of life.
Maybe after trying everything to have a different outcome, you and your spouse decided together
Maybe your spouse left the marriage and you are picking up the pieces…
Maybe you realized there is a different way you wish to spend your one life…
Regardless of how you got here, welcome. This is a judgment-free zone.
Two things to keep in mind as you start the legal process of divorce:
1. There will be a beginning, middle, and end, but you won't always know where exactly you are. Trust that this, too, shall pass.
2. Divorce is the end of something significant, and with that comes grief. Grief, despite having named phases, is not linear. You will experiences phases “out of order,” repeatedly, and sometimes suddenly. Do not expect to have perfect emotional responses during this process—nearly all emotional responses will be considered “normal.”
01: Seek Guidance From Professionals
There are two camps of supportive people you need during your divorce: friends and family; and professionals.
Do not rely on your friends and family to give you pseudo-legal advice or mental health support.
It is important to let your friends and family continue to support you in their own ways. Because your friends and family care so much about you, they may even feel quite drained through this process, though they may never tell you. These are the people who have supported you before you were married and who will be there long after—let these relationships continue to be a source of respite for you during what can often be a long and challenging process.
Seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney in your local area.
Even when you have the most amicable of intentions or expectations, engaging an attorney should be one of the first things you do. Every case is different, and even if you have been through this process before, the laws change, the judiciary changes, and the expectations of parties change. The differences from county-to-county can also be significant. Your attorney knows the playing field and can craft a strategy that meets your goals and the needs of your case under the circumstances.
Engage a mental health professional if you do not already have one.
Your family is not qualified to give you mental health guidance and support, and neither is your attorney. It is important to have a regularly scheduled appointment with a therapist of your choosing to support you through this process, which can sometimes be quite lengthy. You may feel you have too much on your plate and no time to add one more thing, but make the time to prioritize your mental health.
02: Identify Your Values and Goals
This serves two purposes. First, your experienced family law attorney be able to craft an effective strategy consistent with your values and goals for your case. Second, however unwelcome your divorce may be, this can be an opportunity to transform your life for the better (if you can identify the end you are working to achieve).
Take time to be alone and think.
There are plenty of websites out there to help you identify your values. Find a method that speaks to you and set aside time to follow whatever protocol you have identified to help you name your values. Once you have identified your values, start trying to identify your goals—personal and legal. You may have specific and broad goals. The most important point of going through this exercise is to reveal to yourself what is truly of value to you so the actions you take going forward (including in your divorce case), will help you to move in the direction of the things you value.
Share your values and goals with your attorney and with your therapist.
Knowing your goals allows your attorney and therapist to support you in a much more significant way. Everyone has their eyes on the prize. Being armed with the knowledge of your values and goals also allows your experienced family law attorney to more skillfully maneuver through the legal work necessary to achieve your goals.
Write your values and goals down.
Concise and clear goals will help you stay focused when things may feel sad or overwhelming. Write them down and refer to them periodically throughout your divorce case.
03: Identify Issues to be Addressed Immediately
There is A LOT of work to do in every divorce case, and you can expect to be overwhelmed at times by what is being asked of you. However, at first, you likely have immediate issues to address, though.
How are your bills getting paid? This requires identifying what debts and liabilities are in each of your names, how your resources will be allocated during the divorce, and who will be responsible for making sure each debt or liability gets paid.
Who is staying in the house? You are not required to live separately during a divorce, but you are also not entitled to live separately during your divorce. In most circumstances, it is absolutely imperative for your well-being to have physical separation from your spouse during your divorce so you can heal and start trying to get clear-headed. Yes, you are going through a legal matter, but you are also preparing yourself for the life you are going to be living once it is over. It is very important that you prioritize taking care of yourself by whatever means possible. If you and your spouse do not have the financial resources to support two households, you may be looking for an alternative solution to have a physical separation such as staying with a friend or relative.
How are you sharing time with your child? Depending on the Texas County where your divorce case is located, it may very well be expected that you and your spouse will share nearly equal time with your children. In fact, the default Standard Possession Order provided in the Texas Family Code is very close to a 50% split of parenting time, which surprises most clients. Urgent issues can arise when you and your spouse cannot resolve issues related to parenting time, so it is important to work closely with your experienced family law attorney to navigate these immediate issues right away.
In Closing…There are many ways to get through a divorce, but doing so carefully, thoughtfully, and with an intention to set yourself up for personal success long after your divorce is over, may allow you to turn what may be an unfortunate circumstance into a net positive experience. It is important to be guided through the legal process with a skilled family law attorney ready to support you.
Please contact Falk Family Law to learn more or to schedule a consultation for legal representation.