San Antonio Family Law Lawyer Assisting Clients Through The Divorce Process in Texas
In Texas, the only ways to end a marriage are divorce or the death of one of the spouses, and plenty of marriages do end in a divorce. If you believe your relationship is not salvageable and your marriage is headed toward a split, you may want to contact a San Antonio divorce lawyer to get your divorce done the right way.
What Steps Should You Take Before You File for Divorce?
The thought of filing for divorce can be overwhelming, so it is important to take steps early in the process. Once you’ve decided you want a divorce and before actually filing for it, you may want to make preparations and gather a wide variety of documents that may help you later on. Those may include bank statements, tax returns, W-2s and paystubs, a copy of your life insurance policies, credit card statements, and any other documents you may have access to that can help your attorney get a full understanding of the financial situation of your marriage.
If you rely on your spouse for income or have limited resources, you may want to think about saving some money – enough to support yourself for at least three months, but the more you can save, the better. Sometimes, a spouse can refuse to continue letting you access financial resources once he or she has been told you wish to get a divorce. Other aspects you should consider include your living situation (will you continue living in your marital home, in a spare bedroom, or will you move out to another residence?), your means of transportation (will you need to obtain your own vehicle?) and your credit (should you obtain your own credit card?).
Finally, you will want to consult with a San Antonio divorce lawyer as soon as possible, even if you are not ready to file for divorce. An attorney can give you valuable insights and advice for your situation, answer your questions and help you get a better understanding of what to expect when you do decide to initiate the divorce process.
How Important Is It to Work With a San Antonio Divorce Lawyer During a Litigated Divorce?
While you may hope that your divorce goes smoothly and ends quickly, many divorces end up becoming a lot more heated and complicated than expected. It goes without saying that the process of ending a marriage is itself an emotionally-charged life event, and the entire situation is often aggravated when your ex-spouse refuses to cooperate or keeps making empty threats and unreasonable demands. It is precisely during this time that you need to think in an objective manner, keep a clear mind and not make hasty decisions guided simply by your emotions, as they often prove to be unfavorable in the long run.
Thankfully, when you are working with an experienced San Antonio divorce attorney, he or she can relieve you of the burden of communicating with your ex-spouse and can handle a wide variety of tasks on your behalf. Most importantly, you can leverage your attorney’s legal knowledge and experience to fully understand your rights and be confident in making sensible decisions during the difficult stages of your divorce. Even if you don’t plan to go to court, it is a risky move to try and figure it all out on your own. While this may be the first time you are dealing with a particular situation during your divorce, chances are your attorney has been through it before with many other clients and can give you the right advice to help you navigate it.
How Does the Divorce Process Work in Texas?
If you have arrived at the difficult decision of ending your marriage, it is important to understand what you may expect during the divorce process in Texas. It goes without saying that your first step should be to reach out to a San Antonio divorce attorney law firm such as the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy to discuss your case and get a clear picture of what the process may look like for your case.
When it comes to divorce, there are no one-size-fits-all answers. Some divorces can be pretty standard and resolve quickly, while others can take a lot more time to reach any type of resolution. For many clients, the first step to begin the divorce process in Texas is filing a document called a Petition of Divorce. The document is filed with the court, and the next step usually involves officially providing your spouse with a notice. Your spouse will then have a certain amount of time to respond, and he or she may also file a counter-petition stating what aspects of the divorce petition they agree with and disagree with.
Texas courts require a waiting period before a divorce can be finalized, even if both sides are in full agreement with each other. This gives a chance for both parties to try and reach an agreement about key aspects such as child custody and property division. Any agreements you reach during this step may be submitted to the judge as a part of an uncontested divorce. If you still have pending issues you cannot reach a consensus on, your case will move on to a court trial, during which a judge makes decisions regarding any pending matters and issues a final court order.
Do Texas Courts Favor Women During a Divorce?
In the public eye, the traditional gender roles of a woman as a primary caretaker and a man as the breadwinner of the household tend to lead many people to believe that the courts will favor the wife during a divorce and make alimony and child custody decisions in a way that will benefit her best interests. However, the truth is that, nowadays, Texas courts view women’s rights in a divorce as being equal to men’s rights, meaning neither party receives preferential treatment based on their gender.
A judge will examine all issues pertinent to a divorce focusing on what is fair and equitable for both parties, and if the couple has children, all decisions concerning relevant issues such as child custody and support are typically made based on a variety of factors and using the best interests of the child standard rather than automatically viewing the mother as the most suitable caretaker. This is why it is important for both parties to show up prepared to support their arguments and defend their interests in court, and a San Antonio divorce attorney may greatly impact the outcome of your case.
What Does Your Final Divorce Decree Need to Address?
There are several key issues that must be addressed in a divorce, regardless of whether your divorce is amicable or highly contested. The main points to be settled include child support and custody (referred to as conservatorship in Texas), property division, debts and liabilities division, and spousal maintenance (or alimony) if applicable. The judge may issue temporary orders to address these matters while the divorce is pending, and final orders are usually issued once the divorce reaches a conclusion.
The process may be simpler for those who agree on the need for divorce, have no shared children, and aren’t fighting over property. Even with an attorney, you need to file a petition for divorce. If you were served with a divorce petition, you need to respond. Gathering important financial documents is also crucial.
Please understand that every divorce is different. Yours will be much different than your friend’s or the one you heard about on social media. An attorney who knows your situation and who will go to great lengths to protect your rights and interests is incredibly important. Reach out to the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy to discuss how your legal needs can be met.
Is Hiring a Divorce Attorney Mandatory in Texas?
While you do have the right to self-representation during your divorce, it does not mean it is a good idea to do so. If your divorce is amicable and not a lot is at stake – for example, if you don’t have children with your spouse and do not own a lot of marital assets – you may consider representing yourself through the divorce process because you may think it will be less costly to do so. This strategy may not always work because you and your spouse’s eagerness to wrap up the divorce quickly may mean you end up making mistakes or giving up your rights, costing you more money in the long run.
If there are a lot of disagreements and you are looking at a potentially difficult divorce that could require a court trial, you will likely need to comply with several formalities, such as filing and responding to petitions and preparing yourself to appear in court. Many people who choose to self-represent in this situation often find themselves overwhelmed by the amount of time and work required to prepare their side of the story, and may show up in court underprepared, fail to follow the right legal procedures, or lack the legal knowledge to defend their own interests. This often leaves a lot on the table, giving your ex a higher chance of winning the case.
In addition, the court will likely still treat both parties equally regardless of whether each party has an attorney or has chosen the self-representation route. The expectations are the same, and the judge will likely not favor either party or show any differentiated degree of tolerance if you are representing yourself.
You may also be missing out on important opportunities to strengthen your case. An attorney knows when to recruit the help of expert witnesses and how to convince them to work on your case. An attorney can help you keep a clear mind and take the right steps to tip the scales in your favor. The list of reasons why you should consider working with a San Antonio divorce attorney rather than representing yourself is significant, but the bottom line is the initial investment of hiring an attorney early on usually makes more sense than trying to deal with it all yourself and end up making costly mistakes.
At the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy, we treat every client with professionalism and respect, aiming to protect their interests and make the divorce process as efficient as possible. Attorney S. Dylan Pearcy and his legal team have handled countless divorce cases in San Antonio and surrounding areas. Our firm understands the emotional toll a divorce can take on everyone involved, and it is our goal to provide the right legal counsel and representation for our clients at every step of the way.
Whenever possible, we help our clients resolve their issues with their spouses in an amicable manner, which means the divorce process is less painful and can be wrapped up in less time. Attorney S. Dylan Pearcy is a skilled negotiator with extensive knowledge of the Texas Family Code and has handled a multitude of cases – from the most simple divorce agreements to heated courtroom battles – without losing sight of the goal of helping clients fight for a favorable result.
Whether you are ready to get a divorce, are still on the fence and have many questions, or are unsure about whether you want to hire an attorney or not, the best you can do is to reach out to the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy in San Antonio at (210) 953-7486 and request a no-commitment initial consultation to discuss your case and get answers to your questions.