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Divorce and Decision Making

Divorce is a major life change that can significantly impact your decision-making abilities. The emotional turmoil of divorce can cloud your judgment leading to impulsive decisions that may harm your best outcome. Before discussing divorce with your spouse, consider the following:

  • How divorce may affect your long-term goals
  • How best to protect children from the emotional and lifestyle impacts of divorce
  • How to calm emotions to create fairness in decision-making and ensure a smoother process

It’s important not to rush decisions, process your emotions, and think through the consequences of your choices. Avoid dwelling on the past and look to the future to resolve any internal conflict over filing for divorce.

After careful reflection, if you feel divorce is your best option, engaging with a family law attorney specializing in divorce is crucial and should happen as quickly as possible. A family law attorney knows your state’s requirements for filing for divorce, property division, and support and can provide invaluable information to help ensure a smooth divorce process.

The Divorce Process

You may seek an uncontested or contested divorce to end your marriage, depending on your state and situation. A contested divorce will have the court decide on issues, typically making the process more expensive and lengthy. If you and your spouse opt for an uncontested divorce as you agree on the grounds for divorce and key issues, it’s possible to get a settlement drafted and legally entered into the court record.

An uncontested divorce situation is easier, less stressful, and less costly. If certain unresolved issues become sticking points in the negotiation, you can seek mediation for resolution. An uncontested divorce is the simplest process of divorce. However, if you have an uncooperative spouse or incidents of abuse in the marriage make you feel uncomfortable negotiating, then a contested divorce may be your only option.

Specific Decision-Making Considerations

Divorce involves various decisions, especially concerning:

  • Child Custody – One of the most critical decisions in a divorce involving children is determining child custody and visitation rights. There are generally two types of custody:
  1. Physical custody (where the child lives)
  2. Legal custody (the right to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing)

Parents can work out a custody arrangement through negotiation or mediation. If they are unable to reach an agreement, the court will decide the outcome based on the child’s best interest.

  • Child Support – Financial assistance is paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to cover the costs of raising the child. The amount of support is often determined based on state guidelines and factors such as each parent’s income and the child’s needs. As job and financial situations change, child support may be reviewed and amended to reflect a parent’s current earnings.
  • Spousal Support (Alimony) – Alimony is financial support paid by one spouse to the other after a divorce. Its purpose is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a similar standard of living to what they had during the marriage. Alimony eligibility, amount, and duration can vary depending on state laws and the divorce circumstances.
  • Division of Assets and Debts – Property, assets, and debts must be divided between the spouses in divorces. This division may include real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicles, etc. How these assets and debts are divided will depend on state law and whether it’s a community property or equitable distribution state.
  • Mediation and Collaboration – In some cases, divorcing couples may choose mediation or collaborative divorce processes to work together to reach agreements on various issues. These approaches tend to be more cooperative, potentially leading to more satisfying outcomes for both parties.
  • Court Decisions – If spouses can’t agree on certain issues, the court may decide on their behalf. This court involvement is often in cases with contentious matters surrounding child custody and the division of significant assets.
  • Legal Representation – Divorce can be legally complex, and it’s beneficial for both parties to have individual legal representation.

How a Divorce Attorney Can Help

From the outset of your decision to end your marriage, a divorce lawyer can outline possible scenarios for you to choose, considering your state’s divorce laws, legal framework, relevant statutes, regulations, and case precedents. They can explain how the law applies to your situation, ensuring you know your rights and obligations.

Objective Legal Advice

A divorce attorney can offer objective advice when you may be making decisions based on strong emotions. A clear legal objective will help you focus on the case’s practical aspects and the long-term implications of your decisions. Your divorce lawyer will explore the various options and potential outcomes for different decisions you make during the divorce process. These projections allow you to understand the potential consequences, enabling informed decision-making that aligns with your priorities and goals.

Negotiation and Protection of Rights

Nearly every divorce involves negotiations between the parties to settle issues like child custody, support, and property division. Your divorce attorney can negotiate on your behalf, advocating for your interests while seeking mutually agreeable solutions with the other party. They will protect your rights and prevent you from being taken advantage of or agreeing to terms not in your best interest.

Documentation, Paperwork, and Filings

Divorce involves a substantial amount of paperwork and legal documentation. Your divorce lawyer will prepare and file the necessary documents, reducing the burden on you and ensuring everything is done accurately and on time. If court proceedings are required, your divorce attorney will represent you during hearings and other legal proceedings. They will present your case, argue on your behalf, and handle any unexpected challenges.

Support and Guidance

Divorce is stressful, and having someone who understands the legal complexities reduces some of that stress. The legal reassurance and focus a divorce attorney can provide during this challenging time can help your emotional stability. Your lawyer is also well acquainted with professional counselors and therapists and may recommend you seek their guidance throughout the divorce process.

Remember that divorce laws and procedures vary significantly depending on your state. The sooner you seek legal counsel when contemplating divorce, the better your outcome will be. It is easy to make mistakes that may harm your case without the oversight of a family law attorney providing crucial information relevant to your situation.

Our family law attorneys have experience communicating needs and goals in divorce proceedings. We can ensure better decision-making, leading to a more successful outcome. Contact our Houston family law attorneys at (713) 582-5088.

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