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15 Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce

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While every divorce is as different and unique as the couple who are divorcing, the process itself is generally predictable and expected. And so too, are many of the concerns that people have as they find themselves facing the breakdown and dissolution of their marriage. 

We’ve gathered 15 of the most frequently asked questions about divorce in the video below. 

If you prefer reading to watching a video, you can scan the questions and answers in the transcript below.

Will my spouse find out if I contact a divorce attorney? : 00:00
Do I need a premarital agreement? : 00:50
What is common law marriage (in Texas)? : 01:56
What is collaborative divorce? : 02:46
What grounds do I need to file for divorce (in Texas)? : 03:40
Should I empty our bank account before filing for divorce? : 04:24
My spouse had an affair. Can I use that to prevent them from seeing the kids? : 05:00
Can I modify my custody agreement? : 05:47
I’m concerned my spouse will be abusive to our kids, what can I do?
: 06:53
I was just served divorce papers. What should I do? : 07:39
I‘ve decided to file for divorce, what can I do to prepare? : 08:48
I filed for divorce but have now decided to reconcile. Can I stop the process? : 09:46
How long does it take to get divorced (in Texas)? : 10:16
How can I make divorce easier on my kids? : 11:04
Can I spy on my spouse during the divorce? : 12:04

Will my spouse find out if I contact a divorce attorney?

The fact that you have reached out to contact a divorce attorney is privileged information and should remain protected. If you are concerned that your communications are being monitored, you need to bring that to your attorney’s attention right away, so we can help you protect your communication for that initial contact. I would recommend that you go ahead and use a phone that your spouse doesn’t have access to. If you have a phone at work or a friend’s phone, that can be helpful. Also, you may want to set up another email account that you can use for communication with your attorney. We want to make sure that all of your communication throughout the divorce process remains privileged and protected.

Do I need a premarital agreement?

If you are preparing for marriage, you may want to consider a premarital agreement as part of your marriage planning. Many people have the mistaken notion that a premarital agreement is simply planning the divorce before the marriage. And I’m going to tell you in my experience that simply isn’t the case, whether you’re in Texas or you’re in any other state, that state is going to impose rights and responsibilities with regard to your marital property. Wouldn’t you rather sit down with your intended spouse and talk about what those rights and responsibilities are, where the two of you are actually making the decisions about how you’re going to hold that property. If you own a business, if you have children from a prior marriage, if you have significant assets that you’re bringing into the marriage, or your partner has significant assets that a premarital agreement may be right for you at Hargrave Family Law, we like to work with our clients to make sure that the premarital agreement is a constructive part of marriage planning in Texas.

What is common law marriage (in Texas)?

It is quite possible to be married, even if you never had a formal marriage ceremony, you didn’t go to the courthouse, and you didn’t sign a marriage certificate! Marriage can come about by what’s called a “common law marriage.” So, if you live together, and you intended to be married, and you held yourselves out to other people as married, then you may in fact be married. That means if the marriage has come to an end, the relationship has come to an end, and you may also need a divorce in order to bring an end to that relationship. If you have any questions about whether you are married under the laws of Texas, we’d love to talk with you and help you figure out whether your next step is to file for divorce.

What is collaborative divorce?

A collaborative divorce allows couples who are beginning the divorce process to make the commitment to each other that they’re going to work together to resolve the issues that need to be settled. Instead of going to court and litigating the issues in front of the judge, they’re going to work with a team of dedicated professionals, including their lawyers, a mental health professional, and a financial professional who are all committed to helping them reach a final resolution. We find that our clients who engage in the collaborative divorce process enjoy the perfect privacy it provides for their families, and they enjoy the control. So there isn’t somebody else who’s making these decisions for them. And they also enjoy a stronger co-parenting relationship after the divorce is finalized.

What grounds do I need to file for divorce (in Texas)?

In the state of Texas, couples no longer have to go through the painful process of proving grounds in order to get a divorce. In fact, Texas is a no-fault state, which means you simply have to show that the marriage has become insupportable, or in other words, the marriage is broken. Does that mean there aren’t reasons for the divorce? Of course not. There are always reasons for divorce. We no longer have to prove those reasons. At Hargrave Family Law, we know if you’ve been living in a broken marriage, it’s been a painful journey, and we want to help you bring us into that journey so you can start the next chapter of your life.

Should I empty our bank account before filing for divorce?

Emptying a bank account before filing for divorce will have serious consequences and will most certainly increase the tension and conflict in your divorce process. Before taking such a step, we strongly urge you to talk with your lawyer and make sure you’ve considered all your options. What we don’t want to do is take a step early on in the process that can make negotiating a desirable settlement, more difficult, if not impossible, later on.

My spouse had an affair. Can I use that to prevent them from seeing the kids?

If you have just learned that your spouse had an affair, I have no doubt, you are experiencing a lot of emotions right now, due to the lack of trust and betrayal.  However, just because someone is a bad spouse doesn’t mean they are necessarily a bad parent. Taking steps to limit your spouse’s access to the children can have very negative consequences in your divorce case and also harm your children.

At Hargrave Family Law, we want to make sure you have resources available to you to help you deal with those emotions in a constructive way, so you can get ready to start the next chapter of your life.

Can I modify my custody agreement?

In the state of Texas, it is possible to modify the provisions of the original order. In order to do so, we need to show the court that there’s been a material and substantial change in circumstances. This applies whenever we’re changing child support. 

  • If somebody’s got a new job, and they’re making a significant amount of money, then it may be time to modify. 
  • If a parent has moved out of state, it may be time to modify the possession schedule, 
  • or if the parents are no longer able to reach agreements for any number of reasons regarding important aspects of the child’s care, then again, that may be time to modify.

In order to determine whether you’re eligible for a modification, you’ll need to meet with an attorney and see if your circumstances meet the threshold requirements in order to request the court for change, or the parties may simply agree to the changes in which case most of the time, the court will adopt those changes.

I’m concerned my spouse will be abusive to our kids, what can I do?

If there has been any history of abuse in your home, whether that abuse has been directed against you or your children or any other family member for that matter, you need to take steps to put a safety plan in place as you prepare to leave your marriage. 

We know that the decision to divorce is a very difficult one, especially if you’ve been in an abusive relationship. We also know that there is a heightened risk associated with the decision to divorce. We’re going to help protect you and make sure that there are safety measures in place so that you don’t have to risk hurting yourself or your children in the divorce process.

I was just served divorce papers. What should I do?

Being served with divorce papers can be a scary and intimidating time for many people. Not surprisingly when it comes to questions about divorce, we get this one a lot! The first thing you need to do is simply take a breath. You’re going to be okay. Divorce is a legal proceeding. And being served with papers is simply the formal way that your spouse lets you know that he or she has initiated that process. 

Second, you’re going to find in the petition that there may be standing orders or a temporary restraining order. These are important to pay attention to because they may limit what you’re able to do – with your finances, for example. 

There are other guidelines that are set forth in those orders that are very important, and you need to pay attention to them. Also, there’s a timeline that comes with service of process,  and that means that you need to get an answer on file. And there also may be a hearing date that’s scheduled. The very best thing you can do right now is to pick up the phone and contact a lawyer, so you can learn more about what this means for you.

Questions about divorce

I’ve decided to file for divorce, what can I do to prepare?

If you are in a broken marriage, and you’ve decided to file for divorce, the very best thing you can do to help prepare for that divorce is to gather information. First, you’re going to want to gather information about your household finances and understand where your accounts are. 

If you have a financial advisor, take time to meet with him or her. Get copies of tax returns, and now is also a great time to get a copy of your credit report. In addition to financials, you want to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself emotionally. And by that, I mean take time to do the things that you love to do, spend time with people who love and support you. And finally, when it comes to preparing for divorce, one of the most important steps you can take is to meet with a divorce lawyer who can help you plan for the divorce and make sure you understand and know all your options.

I filed for divorce but have now decided to reconcile. Can I stop the process?

In Texas, just because you file for divorce doesn’t mean you have to get a divorce. Sometimes couples are able to reconcile in the divorce process. If that’s something that you think might be an option, we want to know that early on, so we can help you select a process that provides the space for that to happen. And we can also put you in touch with resources that we think may be helpful.

How long does it take to get divorced (in Texas)?

In the state of Texas, it will take at least 60 days to complete a divorce. However, for many people, it will take much longer than that. The length of time will depend upon the level of conflict and the issues that need to be resolved in the divorce process. We find for our clients, it usually takes on average between six and nine months. 

Of course, that’s not a guarantee. It can take a lot longer than that if we have to go to court and have litigated hearings on various issues.  

At Hargrave Family Law, we want to help you make smart decisions that will minimize the conflict and minimize the amount of time it takes to move through the divorce process, so you can get on with the rest of your life.

How can I make divorce easier on my kids?

If you are beginning the divorce process, the very best thing you can do for your children is to let them know that they are loved by you and by the other parent. Here are some tips we found to help make divorce easier on your children. 

  • Keep your routines as stable and steady as possible 
  • Remind them that they are loved by both parents and be supportive of the children’s relationship with the other parent. 
  • Make sure you’re not disparaging or discouraging the other parent, 
  • Make sure your child has time to do the things they love to do and to spend time with their friends and their family members. 
  • And finally, if you find that your kiddos are experiencing disruption in their sleep or eating patterns or that they’re experiencing sadness, this is a great time to get a child therapist involved to help support your child. 

See also: Breaking the News: & Tips for Telling Your Kids About Divorce

Can I spy on my spouse during the divorce?

Before you take any steps, to spy on your spouse, whether you are installing a GPS tracker, you’ve got keylogger software, or you have any listening devices in your home, you need to make sure you speak with a lawyer. So many of these techniques for getting information about your spouse without their permission are illegal and can actually cause harm to your legal case. We want to make sure you get all the information that you need in the legal avenues that are available so that you can have the very best outcome possible.

Hopefully, if you have questions about divorce, you have found the answers you need here. If not, please contact us and let us help you through the process. In the meantime, you can find out more about the collaborative divorce process in the articles below.