SOUND FAMILIAR?

SOUND FAMILIAR?What Are Some Signs That You Should Talk With A Divorce Lawyer?

How spouses feel about their relationship are often red flags that they’re headed for a divorce. It’s important you know what to expect, gather information and leave time to consider all options before making important decisions.

The following types of comments or thoughts often indicate you should think about talking with a divorce lawyer:

  • My spouse says he’s not in love with me anymore.
  • I just found out my spouse has had a girlfriend/boyfriend for months/years.
  • My spouse said, “I love you but I’m not in love with you” and I knew he/she wanted a divorce.
  • We’re like roommates.
  • When the kids were out of the house, I realized we’d just grown apart.

Generally, the sooner you talk to a lawyer, the better. The advantage of talking with a lawyer early on is having ample time to plan your divorce. We can help you consider how the timing of divorce relates to taxes, debts and living arrangements with children and provide you options you may not know exist. Also you may need to take actions to protect your legal rights and we can also advise you about that. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

Commonly Asked Divorce FAQS

CAN WE STILL USE MEDIATION IF MY SPOUSE AND I CAN’T COMMUNICATE?

Chances are you can. A mediator’s job is to facilitate communication. While you and your spouse may not be able to agree on issues, after listening to both of you, a mediator can often help you find common grounds. To some extent a mediator can also act as buffer and help diffuse arguments. It helps when you each can say your piece. And sometimes hearing your spouse’s side of the story is a good thing, helping you look from a different perspective and find a way to compromise. If you are absolutely opposed to sitting in the same room with your spouse, many mediations occur where the parties never even lay eyes on one another.

WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN YOU KNOW YOUR SPOUSE IS HIDING SOMETHING; YOU CAN FEEL IT AND YOU CAN’T LIVE LIKE THAT?

Whether you suspect your spouse is hiding assets or an affair,— when you just can’t live like that ─ Texas law allows you to get a divorce. You may feel like you deserve to be happy and divorce is the only way to find your happiness. The ground for a no fault divorce is insupportability. Insupportability means that discord or personality conflicts have broken down the marriage to the point where you don’t believe you can reconcile. Insupportability does not place blame or “fault” on either party. If hidden assets are an issue, your lawyer can investigate, trace assets and protect your rights during property division. If a hidden relationship is the problem, investigation before separation can be invaluable in the resolution of your divorce.

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR CHILDREN DESERVE BETTER?

If you’re fighting with your spouse and unable to get along, you’re right: Your children do deserve better. Studies show that conflict is what harms children the most — even more than breaking up a marriage. Even a low conflict intact marriage is harder on children than a divorce where afterward, parents get along without any conflict. Maybe you and your spouse can be better co-parents than you are spouses. If you can be, you’ll have a more positive influence on your children than if you stay together and continue to expose your children to conflict.

Does this sound familiar?  If so, we can help you.  Whether you want the divorce or you’re responding to your spouse’s request for one, C. E. Borman & Associates can help you protect yourself and your family.

HOW LONG DOES A DIVORCE TAKE TO FINALIZE?

A divorce must be on file for AT LEAST 60 days (about 2 months), beginning on the date the petition is filed with the clerk before a final order can be signed and a divorce granted. Most of the time, however, divorces take significantly longer than 60 days (about 2 months) to conclude. The length of a divorce often depends on the ability to obtain information necessary to determine the value of the community estate or determine whether visitation schedules that are entered temporarily actually will work long-term.

HOW DO I KNOW MY SPOUSE WILL NOT HIDE OUR MONEY?

Once any type of case involving divorce or any case involving children is filed in Brazos County, a Standing Temporary Restraining Order Regarding Conduct, Property, and Parties becomes effective immediately and continues in effect until a final order is entered. This standing restraining order prohibits each party from engaging in a variety of specified conduct, including hiding assets or spending money for illegitimate purposes. While it is true that an order is not the same thing as a freeze at the bank, most financial transactions leave a paper trail, and the discovery process allows us to follow that trail to find monies spouses try to hide.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I DECIDE TO FILE FOR DIVORCE?

Once the petition is filed with the clerk, the clerk prepares a citation to be served on your spouse. Once the citation is served, your spouse has until the Monday after 20 days (about 3 weeks) from the date he/she is served to respond to the court. If your spouse fails to respond, you may obtain a “default” judgment against your spouse once 60 days (about 2 months) has expired.

WHO WILL LIVE IN OUR HOUSE WHILE THE DIVORCE CASE IS PENDING AND WHO WILL PAY OUR BILLS?

Those issues are “Temporary Orders” issues. The Standing Order requires that we attend mediation before the court has a hearing to determine those issues. If we attend mediation and mediation is unsuccessful (that is, not resulting in an agreement between you and your spouse), the court will conduct a hearing to determine who uses what property and who pays what bills while the divorce is pending. Alternatively, you and your spouse may reach agreements without needing a formal procedure such as mediation. Unbelievably, family law mediations result in agreements 70 to 80% of the time.

WHAT IS MEDIATION?

Mediation is a process where you (with your lawyer) and your spouse (with his/her lawyer) meet with a neutral trained person (known as a “mediator”) who does not know either of you or anything about your case. Mediators are trained to produce creative alternatives to enable both parties to have their interests met. You may be in the same room with your spouse, or you and your spouse may be in separate rooms throughout the mediation process, often depending on the mediator and attorney preferences. Settlement discussions held at mediation are not admissible in court, providing a place for spouses to explore various alternative settlement options free of worry that a judge will know what a party was willing to accept.

WHAT HAPPENS IF WE REACH AN AGREEMENT IN MEDIATION?

If you and your spouse can reach an agreement in mediation, the agreement is written down and signed by both of you. We call that a “Mediated Settlement Agreement.”

WHAT IF I CHANGE MY MIND AFTER MEDIATION?

Once a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) is signed by both parties and their attorneys, it may not be revoked. That means the Agreement is binding and the other party is entitled to an order based on the Mediated Settlement Agreement. There is no “Monday Morning Quarterbacking,” so before you sign, be *sure* you are in full agreement.

DO I HAVE TO SIGN A MEDIATED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT AT MEDIATION?

No. Signing of a Mediated Settlement Agreement is completely voluntary. You are not required to settle at mediation, but mediation is often court-ordered, BECAUSE IT WORKS! Overall, mediations resolve 70 to 80% of cases, with the percentage being even higher in family law cases. Mediation gives YOU the control in deciding what happens in your case, rather than relinquishing that control to a judge who does not know you, your spouse, or your children.

In my experience, there is nothing closer to people’s hearts than their children and their money. Family law invariably involves both of those issues, making personal control over these decisions even more critical.

WHERE DOES MEDIATION TAKE PLACE?

The judge may appoint a specific person to act as mediator or, more commonly, mediation may take place at the Brazos Valley Dispute Resolution Center (BVDRC), located on Briarcrest Drive in Bryan. The mediators at the BVDRC are trained volunteers and the BVDRC fees are nominal ($200-250 for ½ day mediation per side). Because most of the time, the mediators at BVDRC are not lawyers, lawyer mediators are preferable in certain “harder” cases. Attorney mediator fees range from $400 to $650 for ½ day mediation, depending on the mediator’s experience.

CAN I TELL THE JUDGE WHAT A JERK MY SPOUSE WAS AT MEDIATION IF HE/SHE WILL NOT AGREE?

No. Everything at mediation is confidential and may not be discussed in court, nor may the mediator be called to testify as to what happened there. We often say that much like Las Vegas, “what goes at mediation, stays at mediation.”

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY SPOUSE AND I DO NOT REACH AN AGREEMENT AT MEDIATION?

The court clerk will schedule a “hearing” at which the Judge considers evidence and decides the issues you need the judge to decide. The Judge hears testimony from witnesses when the party calls the witness to testify and considers witness credibility based on the presentation, along with documentary evidence the party introduces. If your side calls the witness, you conduct direct examination of the witness first. If the other side calls the witness, you conduct cross examination of the witness after they conduct their direct examination. The questioning goes back and forth until neither side has any more questions of the witness.

MAY I HAVE MY FRIENDS WRITE LETTERS TO THE JUDGE AS EVIDENCE?

No. All evidence presented to the court through witnesses must be subject to being asked questions (that is, being cross-examined) by the opponent.

SHOULD I HAVE MY FRIENDS TESTIFY ABOUT WHAT I HAVE TOLD THEM MY SPOUSE HAS DONE?

No. Each witness may only testify based on their “personal knowledge” of the facts at issue. That is, what the witness has observed or knows from their own personal experience, not what is described by someone else to have occurred.

MAY I TELL THE JUDGE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE SAY TO ME OUTSIDE OF COURT?

No. Quoting statements of people (other than your spouse) made outside of court with the intention that the court believe what you say they said is true is not allowed as it is “hearsay” and inadmissible. You must bring the speaker of the statement to court to testify or otherwise get his information available in a legally admissible form.

HOW DO I FIND OUT WHETHER MY SPOUSE HID ASSETS OR MONEY?

The law provides that you may conduct “discovery” to obtain information from the other party or a non-party which may be relevant to the issues in the case or lead to the discovery of relevant evidence. There are multiple discovery devices used to obtain this information and much more.

WHO SHOULD I ASK TO TESTIFY FOR ME?

People who know facts which are relevant to the issues involved in any case vary from case to case. Appropriate witnesses may include co-workers, neighbors, teachers, counselors, police officers, family members, and friends. Your lawyer will assist you in determining who should be listed to be called to testify, depending on the facts of your case.

IF MY SPOUSE AND I REACH AN AGREEMENT IN MEDIATION FOR TEMPORARY ORDERS, MUST WE ATTEND MEDIATION AGAIN FOR FINAL ORDERS?

Yes. Mediation is successful in such a significant percentage of cases; judges often require your attendance and participation before contested hearings are scheduled, particularly when mediation has been successful earlier in the case.

WHAT ARE THE PARTIES TO A FAMILY LAW CASE CALLED?

The person who initiated the case is known as “Petitioner,” and commonly referred to using that title rather than his/her name. The person responding to the initial filing, even if they file a request for relief in response is known as “Respondent.”

WHAT HAPPENS IF WE MUST GO TO TRIAL TO HAVE THE JUDGE DECIDE OUR DISPUTE?

The person who initiated the lawsuit (Petitioner) goes first. The general order is:

  • Petitioner Opening Statement
  • Respondent Opening Statement
  • Petitioner calls witnesses (Petitioner’s “Case in Chief”):

Pet Witness #1

  • Petitioner direct examination
  • Respondent cross examination
  • Petitioner re-direct
  • Respondent re-cross, repeat at redirect, if necessary

Pet Witness #2

  • Petitioner direct examination
  • Respondent cross examination
  • Petitioner re-direct
  • Respondent re-cross, repeat at redirect, if necessary

Continue through end of Petitioner witnesses until Petitioner “rests”

Respondent calls witnesses (Respondent’s “Case in Chief”):

Res Witness #1

  • Respondent direct examination
  • Petitioner cross examination
  • Respondent re-direct
  • Petitioner re-cross, repeat at redirect, if necessary

Res Witness #2

  • Respondent direct examination
  • Petitioner cross examination
  • Respondent re-direct
  • Petitioner re-cross, repeat at redirect, if necessary

Continue through end of Respondent witnesses until Respondent “rests

  • Petitioner Rebuttal Witnesses, if necessary
  • Respondent Rebuttal Witnesses, if necessary
  • Petitioner Closing Argument
  • Respondent Closing Argument
  • Petitioner Closing Argument Rebuttal
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR TO COURT?

Dress in conservative attire; think: business casual. While dresses are not required, make sure what you wear shows appropriate respect for the judge since the judge will be deciding matters that affect your or your and your child’s future. No shorts, flip-flops, halter tops or tank tops. Also, be mindful of the image you are presenting. It is obviously not ideal to appear at court dripping in diamonds if the goal of the hearing is to convince the Court you cannot make ends meet and require spousal support.

SHOULD I BRING MY CHILD TO COURT?

Absolutely not. You should not bring your child to court unless specifically instructed by the court or your lawyer to do so. Children should not be provided information relating to adult disputes. Judges get really torqued off when you subject your children to the conflict between you and their other parent.

WHEN WILL I FIND OUT WHAT THE JUDGE DECIDES?

The judge may hear the evidence and announce or “render” an order immediately in the courtroom. Alternatively, the judge may hear the evidence and take the matter “under advisement” to review his/her notes, do calculations, or contemplate what an appropriate decision should be and then send out a letter outlining his/her decision later (called a “letter ruling”). It could take days, weeks or even months for the judge to issue his/her letter ruling. While you are waiting the judge’s final decision, the provisions of any Temporary Orders continue in full force.

ONCE THE JUDGE DECIDES, AM I DIVORCED?

No. Usually, you are only divorced once the Final Decree of Divorce is signed by the judge. Even after the judge announces his decision or issues his letter ruling, you or your lawyer must still ensure that a Final Decree is prepared which reflects the judge’s decision for the judge to sign as the formal “judgment” which finalizes the case. The same holds true in cases other than divorces as well. A judge’s order is *effective* as of its rendering, unless the order provides a different beginning date, but it is not “final” or “enforceable” unless and until it is reduced to writing in the form of a judgment and signed by the Court.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOT AGREE WITH THE COURT’S DECISION?

The answer to this question depends on the court issuing the decision. If an Associate Court judge decides that you do not agree with, you may request “de novo review” by the elected judge of the assigned Court within three days then have that judge determine whether the Associate Judge’s decision was a correct one. Once the elected Judge decides, you no longer have any ability to change that decision unless you formally “appeal” the decision to the intermediate appellate court within 30 days (about 4 and a half weeks). Appeals are expensive, time-consuming, and quite rare, due to the expense associated with them. Moreover, appeals in family law matters are unsuccessful most of the time due to the wide discretion given to trial judges in weighing the credibility of witnesses to make decisions. Visit your lawyer if you think an appeal may be appropriate as appeals are highly technical.

CONTACT C.E. BORMAN & ASSOCIATESReceive the trusted advocacy you deserve.

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