The end of a relationship is not an easy thing to experience, especially for those who have opted to formalize said relationship through marriage. When you legally join your life to that of another person, the task of disentangling said lives can be extremely challenging in two ways. For starters, there is the emotional labor of coping with the loss of your relationship and processing the reasons for which it fell apart, whether that’s due to infidelity, incompatibility, or other causes. On the other hand, you also have to deal with the logistics of legally separating yourself from your spouse in accordance with Granbury, Texas family law, including determining child custody, spousal and child support, division of property, and more.
This means ensuring you have the appropriate paperwork, gather sufficient evidence for any statements made, and adhere to the deadlines set by the court. The slightest error can cause delays in the process or even impact the results of your separations, making it extremely important that everything be done correctly. This adds a huge amount of pressure onto those already going through a difficult time, which is why many individuals going through a separation opt to work with a Granbury separation lawyer. With legal guidance from an experienced, skilled lawyer of local family law, you can trust your case will be presented to your greatest advantage while allowing you to take the time you need to process and heal.
Legal separation is a way of formalizing your current status without dissolving the marriage. Couples who decide they need to take some time apart and temporarily move away from each other are not necessarily legally separated. In order for the separation to be recognized, the parties involved must go through the legal system and agree upon the terms of the separation, which often includes discussions about custody arrangements or the division of marital assets. A legal separation is usually performed, then there is a significant strain in a relationship, but the individuals aren’t ready to make the decision of separation permanent.
In many ways, divorce and separation are extremely similar. Both cases will require you to mutually approve some form of separation agreement detailing the specifics of your arrangement. In fact, some resort to using divorce agreement templates as the basis for their separation agreement because the terms are so similar. The largest difference is that the marriage itself remains intact, rendering both parties incapable of pursuing a new marriage with someone else. This preserves a sense of connection between them and leaves the door open for the rekindling of their relationship at a future date. While plenty of separated couples later decide to go through with a divorce, some make the choice to recommit themselves to their marriage after the separation is over.
The state of Texas does not currently recognize legal separation as its own process. Couples looking for the courts of family law to intervene in their marriage are generally only left with one option, seeking a divorce and ending the marriage. This doesn’t mean that you and your spouse can come to the decision that you need some time apart prior to moving forward with a divorce. However, unlike with a separation, there would be no legally binding process mandating how the two of you should behave during this period. Depending on the specifics of your situation, that might not feel like enough. Fortunately, there are other avenues you can pursue.
While legal separation itself is not recognized in Texas, there are other ways to achieve a similar end result by using temporary orders, custody claims, and independent separation agreements. Even though the courts would not classify your relationship status as separated, you’ll still benefit from the protections and restrictions offered by the separation process. In addition to being useful for those couples who are not yet committed to the idea of divorce, this can also be helpful to those about to go through said process. Depending on the circumstances, divorces can become long and messy, and it can take time for everything to be settled. If you’re anticipating such a journey, you could work with your divorce lawyer to institute certain separation agreements prior to the divorce being finalized. That way, you have some amount of protection while you wait for the divorce to be completed.
Temporary orders encompass a wide variety of areas within family law, depending on what your needs might be. These include orders involving custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, property use, and the payment of current debts. Keep in mind that these are, as the name implies, temporary and must be approved by a judge in order to be legally enforceable.
If your spouse has exhibited violent or abusive behavior, then you might also have the option of pursuing temporary restraining orders or protection orders. Their purpose is to ensure that you and your family are safe by limiting the offender’s access to you. These orders not only prohibit said offenders from contacting you or being in close proximity to you, but they also generally bar them from your home, your place of work, and the school your children attend. In addition, they also prevent them from being in possession of a firearm.
Custody suits, also known as suits affecting the parent-child relationship or SAPCRs, are essentially requests presented to a judge asking them to impose an order regarding the more child-related sections of family law, such as custody, medical support, and more.
The above orders are all meant to be imposed by a judge. However, if you and your spouse have a relatively amicable relationship and are able to readily agree upon how you should treat each other and your children while separated, you might want to create a separation agreement instead. Unlike the orders, a separation agreement is a document that is written by your legal representatives and signed by both yourself and your spouse. This is a great way to avoid any unintentional misunderstandings and identify potential areas of conflict before they escalate.
With so many options at your disposal, it can be difficult to determine which option is best. That’s why it’s critical that you work with an experienced Granbury separation lawyer who can identify what makes the most sense for your situation. Most parties seeking some form of separation ultimately submit a request for a divorce, and working with an attorney can help facilitate this transition as well, making them an extremely useful resource. Whatever your needs might be, your lawyer can help you navigate the various steps involved in ending your relationship with your spouse and answer any questions you might have so you know what to expect.
Given that there is no legal separation in Texas, you might determine that it is in your best interest to move forward with formalizing your divorce instead. If you come to such a conclusion and decide you have no need for temporary orders or separation agreements, you might be wondering if hiring a divorce attorney is strictly necessary. This is an understandable concern, considering that divorces often involve various costs in the form of division of property, division of debt, moving expenses, and more, in addition to attorney fees.
It’s true that the law does not require you to have a legal representation when seeking a divorce, and it is within your rights to do so if you desire. In Texas, this is most often seen with uncontested divorces, which are those where both parties are in complete agreement in regard to the terms of the divorce. The reason why someone filing for an uncontested divorce might choose to waive attorney representation is that one of the functions of an attorney is helping to negotiate those terms and advocate for your best interests. That being said, the role of an attorney actually encompasses much more than creating arguments on your behalf or gathering evidence.
Divorce attorneys are required to have an in-depth understanding of family law and how it applies in the event of a divorce. This includes detailed knowledge of the paperwork involved, the requirements involved in the creation and completion of said documents, and all relevant deadlines throughout the process. Making a small mistake in any of these areas could be costly, extremely time-consuming, or both. Even if you and your spouse are on the same page about the divorce, it can be incredibly helpful to have your attorneys review your agreements for any potential errors and ensure that everything will be rendered acceptable by the court.
In cases of contested divorce, the importance of an attorney is even greater. Your spouse is likely to have their own representation, and going up against them with no lawyer at your disposal could leave you in a very vulnerable situation. The courts are likely to only see your spouse’s point of view, coupled with evidence supporting that view, and that kind of situation is unlikely to end in your favor.
If you and your spouse are on good terms but still with to involve an attorney, you might be wondering if it’s possible to simply have the same divorce lawyer represent you both. While this can initially appear to be an extremely convenient idea, there are actually a lot of problems that can arise with such an arrangement. The role of your attorney is to advocate for the best interests of their client. And the truth of the matter is that no matter how well you get along or how much you agree with each other, your individual best interests are likely very different. What’s ideal for you will most often not be what’s ideal for your spouse, and trying to reconcile these opposing goals creates a huge ethical problem. To avoid this conflict of interest, Texas does not allow divorcing spouses to hire the same attorney.
Despite these legal protections, some spouses try to get around this rule by only hiring one attorney to represent one of the parties. It’s important to remember that, in accordance with Texas law, it is that attorney’s legal responsibility to only represent their client, regardless of what your personal relationship with each other might be. If their client is your spouse and not you, that puts you at a huge disadvantage, as all of their efforts will be dedicated towards an arrangement that favors your spouse. In fact, without an attorney on your side to oversee every step, you could be taken advantage of without even realizing it.
Once you’ve made the decision to seek legal representation, the next step is to meet with your chosen attorney and go over the terms of your professional relationship. This generally involves signing a retainer agreement to that effect, which would include details such as cost and billing information, a disclosure of the associates that might be assisting with your case, etc. This meeting is also a great opportunity to ask any general questions you might have about the process and determine which path is most appropriate in your case, whether you would like to enter into some form of separation prior to divorce or are committed to filing for divorce right away. Your attorney will most likely ask you a series of questions in order to better understand you and your circumstance. By learning more about you and your situation, they become better equipped to help you find the best possible resolution for your case.
Getting started with the process of separation is an emotionally charged, complex situation. Allowing an experienced Granbury, TX separation lawyer to take charge can provide you with great clarity and ensure that your own interests are upheld in a court of family law. Regardless of which form of separation you seek, your attorney can help you make the most appropriate decision and help you achieve your desired result. To get started, simply contact the team at The Law Office of William A. Walsh to schedule your consultation today.