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Dropping the “D Bomb”: How to Tell Your Husband Your Marriage Is Over

Dropping the “D Bomb”: How to Tell Your Husband Your Marriage Is Over

Contemplating divorce? Your first divorce conversation sets the tone for a respectful process and must be planned with care. Before you tell your husband you want out, consider these helpful pointers and handle this difficult conversation with poise and grace.

The post Dropping the “D Bomb”: How to Tell Your Husband Your Marriage Is Over appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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The Real Story Behind “Marriage Story”

The Real Story Behind “Marriage Story”

Rich or poor, the currency is communication. The challenge is to hire a divorce professional (or team) to help get you to the finish line with preserving dignity, civility – -and, most importantly, if there are children, the priceless co-parenting relationship.

The post The Real Story Behind “Marriage Story” appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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my bad marriage

My Bad Marriage: Why I’m Not Leaving…Yet

my bad marriage

 

Why I’ll “wait and see” about my marriage (even though we don’t have sex!).

Marriage is not going so well for my husband Tod and me. Our fifth anniversary approaches, and we haven’t had sex in more than a year. We’ve buried our feelings about that deep. We also avoid talking about finances and children, and anything else you could file under the category “future hopes.”

Outside of an hour of couple’s therapy every week, we go about our lives as if nothing were amiss—running our household, dining out with friends, and catching new movie releases on Friday nights. We’re good pals. (Yawn!)

When marriage promises so much more—stability, growth, intimacy—why am I content to stay put? In short, there’s work to do, and I’m not talking about forever anyway. For the near future—six months, a year, maybe two—here are the ties that bind.

My Bad Marriage: Why I’m Staying, For Now


1. I’m giving myself a break. 

I wasn’t always content to wait and see. In fact, I was nearly out the door earlier this year. Frustrated with our deteriorating rapport and needing space where I could think straight about the future I wanted for myself, I set out looking for an apartment of my own, crunching and re-crunching numbers to see what I could afford and worrying about breaking the news of separation to family and friends.

The worst two months of my life ensued. Stress, broken-record thinking, and fear of loneliness—and about what others might think—had me crying every night. I couldn’t get out of bed to face each new day. Figuring out how to rip apart a union, even an imperfect one, is agony. Needing a rest, I decided to focus instead on the silver lining of our relationship and to gather my reserves for another go at serious contemplation later.

2. He makes life easier and even sometimes more fun. 

Tod may not be my ideal life partner, but he’s a sweet guy who would give you the shirt off his back… or clean the bathroom even if he thinks it’s clean enough but you’re hell-bent on sparkling tiles in time for your visitors yet have no energy left to scrub them yourself. He’s also enthusiastic about checking out new restaurants with me, or just catching the ball game on TV from the couch, cold beer in hand.

While for better or worse we ignore our deep-seated issues around sex and money, we enjoy laughs together and keep each other amused. Life without him would require me to find new fun. If that sounds lazy, and you wonder just how much the bigger issues matter to me, remember, I’m giving myself a break at the moment. (See #1.)

3. It would be arrogant to think there’s no hope. 

The work Tod has done to improve himself in the last year is amazing. He went from avoiding any sort of therapeutic situation to undertaking both individual and couples therapy. And while I say I’m sitting back and relaxing at the moment, that’s relative. I always strive to make each day happier for us than the last. And in couples therapy we’re learning to communicate better. There’s potential, and to refuse it some time to reveal itself fully would not be fair.

4. I need to save some money of my own. 

Due to my admittedly insane and overblown need to “pay my own way” and not depend on a man, we’ve always kept our money separate. The thing is, Tod, earns three times as much as I do, and so after paying our bills, his disposable income is considerably higher. He is a generous guy, and he supports me in ways that remain well enough below the radar to avoid offending my independent sensibilities—he unassumingly picks up the check at dinner and forgets to ask for my share of the grocery bill.

If I leave, however, that’s the end of his help, and with no family to count on, it’s also the end of my safety net. It will be some months before I can save up for an apartment of my own. I’m not in any danger at home with Tod, so I have the luxury of being practical about this and can wait until I have more funds available.

5. Life is hard. 

Let’s face it: Life isn’t easy. Separating would be hard, but so would staying together forever. To think we can make it through life and without effort is naïve. So which challenge is the right one for me—rework this partnership into something more fulfilling, or separate and start anew?

If I’m at all uncertain (which I am), a bold move would be foolish indeed. With all the challenges life throws at us—for me, an alcoholic brother and father with rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s Disease come to mind—perhaps a supportive friend is more important than an intimate partner. Not sure I’d take that in the long term, but it’s something to think about.

So I’m biding my time, and meanwhile being kind to myself and gentle with Tod. After I’ve put in a good-faith effort in couples therapy and saved a bit more of my own money, I’ll reassess. If there’s a chance at all that in the next year or so I’ll be starting the long, painful process of extricating myself from a life lived together with Tod, I’d like to enjoy the calm before the storm.

The post My Bad Marriage: Why I’m Not Leaving…Yet appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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forgiveness after a toxic marriage

Forgiveness After a Toxic Marriage: Here’s Why It’s Important

forgiveness after a toxic marriage

 

“There is no future without forgiveness.” Desmond Tutu

The single most important step you must take in order to move on after divorce is to forgive. 

Over the course of your marriage, things must have been said and done by both yourself and your husband that were hurtful and toxic.

Hanging on to these hurts will perpetuate their destructive effect, unless and until they are released.

Hanging on to past hurts is like strapping an anchor to your neck and dragging it wherever you go.

Unforgiveness will bring you down and prevent you from rising up to your highest potential. It will deprive you of the peace that you need to create a happy life.

You won’t be able to start over with a clean slate if you’re still obsessed with the wrongs of the past.

When you forgive, you release yourself from the bondage of blame and resentment and break free from the spell past hurts have placed on you. 

Forgiveness is freedom from judgment, ill feelings, and being “right” at the expense of being happy.

Sometimes we adopt a posture of righteous indignation because we mistakenly believe that not forgiving the other person makes him or her the bad guy while making us the victim, the nice guy. We feel morally superior.

But being unforgiving doesn’t make you good and the other person bad. It makes you unhappy! The other person can very well go on with his or her life untouched by your anger and hatred.

Remember, you deserve to be happy. So, tap on the power of forgiveness to set yourself free.

You need to forgive your husband for every wrong, real or perceived.

Yes, every single one of them. You need to forgive yourself for all the things you regret associated with your marriage and in every area of your life.

You need to forgive every person who, in your opinion, contributed to the breakdown of your marriage. That includes friends, relatives, in-laws, even “the other woman.”

This is hard stuff, I know, and don’t get mad at me for saying so. But as hard as this may be, it is essential to your happiness.  Release the charge. Stop thinking about it, or at least think about it with neutral feelings.

We are often unwilling to forgive because we assume that forgiving turns us into doormats. That forgiving is condoning offensive behaviors. That, by forgiving, we are making them acceptable. We are enabling the perpetrator. We are inviting more of the same.

But that isn’t true.

Forgiving is not about condoning bad behaviors, especially forgiveness after a toxic marriage.

Some behaviors, abusive ones, in particular, are wrong and unacceptable, and should never be tolerated.

Those behaviors may have given you good reasons to end your marriage. But they do not justify ending your peace and depriving yourself of the happiness that is your birthright.

Forgiveness opens the door to a life of freedom and possibility.

Forgiveness makes room in your heart to allow love to flow in.

Maybe you’re not comfortable forgiving because you fear it makes you seem weak.

To the contrary, forgiving is empowering, because it dissolves the grip past hurts have over you. It allows you to face your vulnerabilities and gives you the opportunity to heal and dissolve them.

When you hang on to past hurts and resentments, you are giving your power away.

Holding on to resentment actually poisons you. It keeps you bound to the person you badly want out of your life.

Every time you think about the hurtful event, you are allowing it to continue hurting you over and over again, even after the conduct has stopped.

Some people hang on to hurts that happened long ago, by people who may no longer be alive. Who do you think is hurt by the unforgiveness? Not the dead guy, for sure!

You are not alone.

We have all been hurt, often by people we love. By people, we thought loved us. And we have to process feelings of betrayal as well.

Perhaps you have endured vicious behaviors that were totally uncalled for. You may think you have been inflicted the unforgivable. I understand.

I am not trying to minimize your pain, but open your mind to the possibility that other people have endured horrifying experiences, even worse than yours, and have found it in their hearts to forgive. Through forgiveness, these people have achieved freedom, and inspire us to allow the power of forgiveness to heal our deepest wounds.

Louise Hay had been sexually abused as a child. Yet, she turned her painful experiences into an occasion to heal herself and to help others heal through a lifetime of inspiring works. Likewise, Immaculee Ilibagiza, in her book “Left to Tell: Discovering God in the Midst of the Rwandan Holocaust,” shares her stirring story on achieving freedom through forgiveness, after her family members were murdered by friends and neighbors during the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.

Their examples underscore how forgiveness can serve you.

Forgiveness doesn’t stop with your husband. Also, forgive yourself. The past is over and done. You cannot change it, but you can choose again. Learn your lessons and be the better person from it.

Consider incorporating a forgiveness practice into your life.

It will support you as you examine your relationship, decide whether to leave or stay and start your life anew, with or without your husband. It will pay dividends in every area of your life and will enable you to enjoy better relationships and a serene existence.

If you’re not sure how to go about it, there is plenty of help available. The subject is so vast and complex that you could fill a whole library with books about forgiveness. There are lots of amazing teachers, all of them courageously sharing their personal stories and unique forgiveness techniques. Find one that resonates with you. Or feel free to create techniques of your own if you can’t find one that is right for you.

My favorite book on the subject is “Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything” by Iyanla Vanzant. This fabulous little book comes with a built-in, 21-day workbook and includes a CD with guided meditation exercises for every day of your forgiveness journey. By day 14, I felt considerably lighter and more peaceful.

I have also found inspiration in Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Your Life,” as well as Colin Tipping’s “Radical Forgiveness: Making Room for the Miraclewww.amazon.com/Radical-Forgiveness-Miracle-Tipping-Paperback/dp/B00OX8BXFG.”

You can also join forgiveness support groups at a local church or online.

The key is to allow the power of forgiveness to release you from the wounds of the past and pave the way for a brighter future.

If You’re Not Ready to Forgive Yet

Maybe your spouse or others have engaged in very damaging behaviors that you need to process. Perhaps your emotions are still too raw, and you are not yet ready to forgive. Be kind to yourself and honor your feelings.

Forgiveness requires you to be ready and receptive. You may want to wait until the heat is off, the dust settles and you are out of the emotional danger zone. That is perfectly okay.

Take baby steps down the road to forgiveness. Louise Hay taught that you can start by being willing to forgive. Take the first step now and get ready for a life in which your husband’s misdeeds are not even worthy of a passing thought.

Now you’re ready to begin anew. Rebuild your life on a clean slate with the power of forgiveness.

Note: Excerpt adapted from the book Solve the Divorce Dilemma: Do You Keep Your Husband or Do You Post Him on Craigslist? by Sonia Frontera.

The post Forgiveness After a Toxic Marriage: Here’s Why It’s Important appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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How Financial Mismanagement Impacts a Marriage

How Financial Mismanagement Impacts a Marriage

There are many reasons why divorce in couples occur, money is one of the biggest ones.

The post How Financial Mismanagement Impacts a Marriage appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Millennials, Marriage and Mortgages

Millennials, Marriage and Mortgages

Originally published by The Law Office of V. Wayne Ward.

For generations, Americans tended to (or at least aspired to) get married, buy a house, and have kids—in that order. For many reasons, economic ones particularly, the millennial generation hasn’t fallen into that pattern. This change in the order of big life events brings changes to the legal world as well, at least in the context of divorce.

Financial Struggles Lead Millennials to Delay Marriage & Home Purchases

The youngest millennials are now entering their mid-20s.  The older members of the generation are approaching 40.

Older millennials were impacted heavily by the Great Recession, which struck as many of them were graduating college and trying to start a career. Those who did find work often found it lower paying than they were counting on, due in part to a challenging job market where older workers, whose retirement accounts took big hits during the Recession, stayed on the job instead of retiring.

Burdened by huge student loan debts and skyrocketing housing prices in most large cities, many millennials found that the only way they could save enough to buy a home was to move in with their significant other. But they did not necessarily feel the need to get married, often reaching the homebuying milestone before decided to marry.

An Example Scenario

Let’s use an example to illustrate how a millennial couple might progress through their relationship (and what happens when the relationship ends).

Lisa (33) and Brian (35) were in a relationship for nine years before they married. Brian proposed to Lisa seven years into the relationship.

About a month after they got engaged, Brian bought a house. He took out a mortgage in his name only, and his name was the only name on the property deed. The couple intended that the house would be for both of them, and they decided together that buying before marriage made financial sense.

After closing, Brian and Lisa moved in together. They lived in the house for about a year, and then got married. Before the marriage, they each paid half of the mortgage and bills from money in their own personal accounts. After the wedding, the couple opened a joint account and paid from that.

After two years of marriage, Brian filed for divorce. The question is: what rights do Brian and Lisa each have to the house?

How Texas Law Applies to This Scenario

Texas is a community property state, so the house is treated as Brian’s separate property because he bought it before marriage and his name is on the deed. As a result, the judge will not award the house to Lisa.

Can Lisa seek reimbursement of any house payments? Well, each party was paying half the mortgage before marriage. Most likely, Lisa’s payments would be considered gifts to Brian and she is unlikely to be reimbursed for these pre-marriage payments.

Now, the mortgage payments made during the marriage are a different story. Lisa can request reimbursement for her portion of those payments, because they were made with “marital funds.” She would argue that Brian’s estate benefited from those marital funds, which were partially hers, so she should get money back.

However, under Texas law, Lisa would only be entitled reimbursement of funds that were allocated to mortgage principle, not to mortgage interest. The judge would have full discretion to decide how much Lisa receives.

Millennials, Marriage and Mortgages
The Fort Worth divorce lawyers of the Law Office of V. Wayne Ward help people of all ages through divorce. Call 817-789-4436
for a consultation.

Cohabitation Agreements Can Help in These Scenarios

Unmarried millennial couples (and any other unmarried couple) can protect themselves and their property better than Brian and Lisa did by creating a cohabitation agreement. Such a document could have stated that Lisa would get full reimbursement for mortgage payments made before marriage. This would prevent her from having to start over financially after the breakup.

The attorneys of the Law Office of V. Wayne Ward in Fort Worth can advise you on cohabitation agreements and all other legal issues affecting the end of any relationship. Contact us anytime to arrange a confidential attorney consultation.

Sources:

www.cnbc.com/2018/07/09/these-are-the-reasons-why-millions-of-millennials-cant-buy-houses.html  www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/02/21/young-adults-after-the-recession-fewer-homes-fewer-cars-less-debt/

The post Millennials, Marriage and Mortgages appeared first on Fort Worth Family Law Attorney.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

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7 Signs Your Marriage is Over, According to Expert

7 Signs Your Marriage is Over, According to Expert

One of the signs your marriage is over is if you constantly find yourself thinking about leaving your partner. That and these other 6 are sings it may be time to divorce.

The post 7 Signs Your Marriage is Over, According to Expert appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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non-physical cheating

Is Non-Physical ‘Cheating’ a Reason to Break up Your Marriage?

non-physical cheating

 

The question “is cheating a reason for divorce” is highly personal. The answer depends on the state your marriage was in before the alleged ‘cheating’ occurred. An unstable marriage is more likely to reach a breaking point if infidelity is suspected.

Ultimately, the question can only be answered after you first take a closer look at what YOU define as ‘cheating’ and what YOU feel is acceptable or unacceptable in your marriage.

Is Non-Physical ‘Cheating’ a Reason to Break up Your Marriage?

For some women, cheating is having a physical relationship with someone outside the marriage (i.e. kissing, fondling, oral sex and/or intercourse). Other women have more liberated ideas about fidelity when they allow a third person to join them in the bedroom for a threesome.

They don’t consider this ‘cheating’. For others, having an emotional relationship with another woman counts as cheating. Some men still talk openly to ex-girlfriends and this is accepted in the marriage. In other marriages this is an absolute no-no, especially if this is happening secretly.

Then there are gray areas where no specific third person or emotional involvement is involved.

Would you consider going to a strip club as cheating?

Does watching porn in magazines or on the web qualify as cheating? In this case, it seems to be only the fantasy of another body that the husband is looking for.

What about more indirect contact like ‘friending’ an ex on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? Would it make a difference if communication is open or hidden?

How you define cheating depends on your personality, your threshold, your level of self-confidence, how strict you set the rules at the beginning of your relationship and your level of trust.

Over time, relationships change. If you were comfortable with allowing other women close to your man and felt secure in your relationship at the beginning, your level of comfort and security may change as life and the relationship changes. In long term relationships, the focus gradually shifts from physical attraction to love and intimacy.

That initial spark may wear off as you get caught up in daily routines. If you have kids and your daily life gets busier and more focused on the children, the relationship needs to be nurtured to keep the connection alive. Regular date night and effective communication can be the key.

Before you make the decision to file for divorce when you feel hurt and betrayed… pause…Decisions made in a highly emotional state of mind are not always the wisest.

Consider the consequences of divorce for everyone (especially the kids) and weigh the pros and cons of your relationship. If infidelity is your reason to consider divorce, make sure your definition of what is ‘cheating’ is clear to you and your spouse.

Bottom line is that every relationship has ‘rules’ that need to be clear to both partners. If boundaries are vague, they can easily be crossed. Open communication is key. If one of the partners is hiding something, it is time to have a serious talk together. If you feel that talking doesn’t get you the results you want, couples counseling could be an option.

A therapist can help both of you clarify your needs, set healthy boundaries and help resolve trust issues you may have.

For suggestions on how to weigh the pros and cons in your marriage, improve your communication and spend quality time together, I highly recommend reading self-help workbook To Stay Or Not To Stay.

For an insight into what challenges children face when they do end up living in two houses, I suggest to read children’s book Nina Has Two Houses. The book also contains helpful tips for parents.

The post Is Non-Physical ‘Cheating’ a Reason to Break up Your Marriage? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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sexless marriage

Sexless Marriage: Should She Stay or, Should She Go?

sexless marriage

 

Relationships are hard. Divorce can be harder. And one of the HARDEST decisions you may ever be forced to make is Should I Stay or Should I Leave?

This was not a choice I’ve personally had to make – in my marriage, the choice to leave was very much my husband’s, and it took me very much by surprise. I don’t know if my ex ever asked himself the ‘stay or leave’ question. I hope he did. I like to think that there was at least some thought put into his life-changing decision.

Somebody I know is currently dealing – battling – with this situation. She and her husband have been married for more than twenty years; the last few at least have been challenging. He is not one to talk about problems, about what’s really going on in their marriage; they haven’t been physically intimate in years; they are almost living as flatmates. Conversations center on what the kids are doing, where the money’s going and who’s buying what for dinner.

Sexless Marriage: Should She Stay or, Should She Go?

This woman is miserable and spends a lot of time thinking about what her life – her marriage – will be like once both her children leave home. Of course, a lot of married couples go through something similar to this. A lot of people wonder and worry about what they’ll do to fill their time once the nest is empty.

Some people prepare for this by having the occasional date night with their partner, by taking the occasional holiday without the kids, or by generally trying to work on their relationship so they are not at a complete loss when there are no kids around to act as a buffer to the relationship and its problems.

This is a good thing, a great thing, for those couples that still feel at least a little spark, a little hope, a little love. But then there are those that struggle to feel any of these things. Those, like my friend, who is comfortable enough in the house and comfortable enough financially, but who are otherwise completely miserable, and have been so for many years.

Marriage counseling is the obvious option – but both parties need to agree to this. My friend’s husband isn’t interested, and the fact that he’s not speaks volumes to her.

Her predicament is not an enviable one.

Not wanting to stay; not knowing how to leave. Her head is a whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, and contradictions:

She doesn’t want to ‘throw away’ the last two decades of her life. She doesn’t know how she’ll cope financially on her own. She has some good memories that are hard to let go of. She knows she is not being authentic to herself by staying in a marriage out of convenience – convenience to everyone and everything but her. More than anything, she can’t shake the almost gut-wrenching feeling that life is slipping her by.

Here’s the thing:

Finding the courage to become your true self is never an easy thing, and it’s harder still if you’ve made a life habit of pleasing others and giving your power away. But eventually, more than likely, something will give. One day it will dawn on you that you don’t need to live life this way. That in fact, you were never meant to live life in a fearful and half-hearted manner. That being authentic to YOU is actually the most loving thing you can do – for you and for those you love.

Why? Because regret is not an easy thing to let go of. Regret breeds resentment. And resentment is even harder to shake than regret. Resentment, left unattended, permeates the very fibers of our being, and the beings of those we love.

Staying in a marriage or situation that has long since died, a relationship where both parties have given up, or a relationship where only one party is making any effort is simply not a requirement of life. Staying in a toxic environment ‘for the kids’ is not always the honourable thing to do. Teaching kids that it is OK (or worse – a requirement) to stay in an unhealthy environment is surely not something that any of us want to do.

I don’t know what decision my friend will make.

Would I think she was being terribly selfish if she decided to call it quits on her marriage? No. Would I be happy for her and her husband if they somehow, against all odds, found a way to make the marriage work for each of them? Yes.

I held a lot of resentment towards my husband when he left our marriage – I still believe he could have handled the situation, and how he went about it leaving the marriage, a whole lot better than he did. Yet once I began healing, the resentment eased. Once I was able to let go of my anger towards him I began to see things a little clearer.

My marriage wasn’t perfect – there were cracks. We were evolving and growing at different rates and sadly, in different directions. My husband made the decision to leave, and I eventually accepted his decision. I am now doing my best to live a life that’s best for me, and I sincerely hope that he is doing the same – I no longer wish him any ill. He was a pivotal part of my life for many years, and I am glad that we didn’t end up in an unhealthy situation full of resentment and regret.

And really, that is what this thing is all about. Should I stay or leave is never going to be an easy or comfortable question for anybody who finds themselves in the predicament of having to ask it. What I know is this – life is too short to be lived full of regret.  Some regrets are unavoidable. Some are best dealt with before they morph into full-blown resentments. And we all have the power of freedom and choice.

The post Sexless Marriage: Should She Stay or, Should She Go? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Same Sex Marriage: Can a judge stop you from getting a divorce in Texas?

Same Sex Marriage: Can a judge stop you from getting a divorce in Texas?

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

Despite the decision out of our federal Supreme Court a few years ago that legalized same sex marriage across our country there are still some misunderstandings and questions regarding that subject. This is understandable to a degree. The change in laws dramatically altered the landscape of family law in terms of who is and is not able to participate in the family law courts. In addition, some folks I have spoken with in my capacity as a consultative attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan still have questions if marriage and divorce work the same for opposite sex and same sex persons. Today’s blog post will discuss marriage and divorce for same sex couples.

Expected length of time for a same sex divorce in Texas?

There are two roads that your divorce could go down. The first is the path of least resistance- an uncontested divorce. To be considered truly uncontested you and your spouse would need to be in agreement on getting a divorce, have a plan in place for diving up any marital property and if you have children would need to have every aspect of a parenting plan agreed upon as well. This means conservatorship, visitation, support, etc. all need to be decided prior to hiring an attorney. If even one piece of this pie is missing, then your divorce is not uncontested and will therefore require some degree of negotiation.

The second path is unfortunately the more common road that most divorces go down- a contested divorce. All of the above issues that I laid out are in play in a contested divorce. The more substantial your martial property or the more detailed your parenting objectives and plans are the more complicated and longer your divorce will likely take. There is not anything wrong with this as a general rule, but it can get tedious and tiresome for most people who are eager to complete their divorce and move on with the rest of their lives.

Generally speaking, a divorce in Texas must take at least sixty days from the date on which the Original Petition for Divorce is filed with the court. Ostensibly the sixty first date is the earliest date on which you and your spouse can have a judge sign a final decree of divorce. A final decree could be signed and ready the day after your petition is filed but absent extreme circumstances (like family violence being an issue) it is unlikely that a judge would waive the sixty-day waiting period. For those of you wondering, the waiting period exists in order for you and your spouse to make absolutely sure that you want to get a divorce rather than remain married and try to work it out together.

How can you avoid a long and protracted divorce?

The key to a fast-moving divorce is to understand early on that you are not going to get 100% of what you want. I wish there were some way to ensure that all of our clients always got just what they wanted out of a divorce but to this point I have not been able to do the math on how to get there. If any attorney ever does get to that point, then the rest of us may as well give it up and start looking for work elsewhere.

The reason that divorces end up being situations where you and your spouse both give up (and therefore gain) things in order to settle the case is that most family courts in Texas require that you attend mediation at least once throughout your case’s life. Typically, you will attend mediation once before any temporary orders hearings and then again before your trial.

Temporary Orders hearings have everything to do with how you and your spouse will be situated during your divorce from the perspective of making sure bills are paid, the kids are cared for and one another are treated with respect. Mediation involves attending a formal negotiation session with your attorneys in the office of a third-party mediator. The mediator is also very likely a practicing family law attorney him or herself so you will be able to gauge the relative strength or weakness of your arguments with the mediator as well.

In mediating for final orders you will likely be extending much of the temporary orders out into your post-divorce life as well as deciding what will happen with any marital property accumulated by you and your spouse. Texas is a community property state. This means that any property that you acquired during the course of your marriage is considered to be jointly owned by both of you and is therefore subject to being divided up in your divorce case. If it is your contention that something acquired during your marriage is your property separate from your spouse- like a gift of some sort- then the burden is on your to prove by clear and convincing evidence that this is the case.

Tips for preparing for mediation in your same sex divorce case

Attending mediation will be the same for you as it would be for persons going through any other divorce. You and your attorney should come prepared with settlement offers, a list of property that may be in play as far as negotiation is concerned as well as plans and ideas on how to divide up parenting time with your children. The more prepared you are and the more variations you have available to you of the different parenting plans the more likely you will be to reach a relatively pain free settlement.

For instance, it is commonly thought in opposite sex divorces that mothers have the advantage when it comes to being named the primary conservator of your child. Primary conservator means the parent who has the right to determine the primary residence of your child- among other rights. This allows your child to live with you throughout the school year and provides visitation time (mostly on weekends) to your spouse once the divorce has been completed.

In same sex divorces there would not be an apples to apples comparison due to there not being a male and female parent from which to choose from. You and your spouse should have had discussions heading into mediation regarding which of you is better suited to be named as the primary conservator of your children. Having an honest conversation with your attorney about which parent has been more active, more involved, and better acquainted with your children’s day to day needs is a good place to start. My admitting to yourself that your spouse has taken the lead in these areas throughout your marriage or has a work schedule that is more conducive to providing the level of care that is needed to raise a child on a daily basis is not admitting that you are not a good parent. It can, however, help you to eliminate contentious delays in your case and lead to a more developed settlement agreement.

Another aspect of divorce mediation that you need to be prepared for is determining how to divide up your bigger financial assets. Retirement plans, bank accounts, home equity and the like are probably the type of assets that you will have in play for your case. If you have not considered these subjects prior to entering into mediation you will find out that you will need to work through them in mediation. Seeing as how most mediation sessions are only four hours long you will not be optimizing your time by spending an undue amount of time on these sort of brain storming sessions while in mediation. Rather, spend a few weeks prior to mediation using your attorney as a go-between to communicate settlement offers to your spouse.

Finally, it is important to note that what you settle upon in mediation cannot (in most circumstances) be changed. That means that you cannot wake up the morning after mediation and call your attorney in a panic because you think you made a huge mistake in deciding to agree to a geographic restriction for your child when you really want to move back home to Colorado to be closer to family once the divorce is over with.

You can avoid problems like this by asking questions of your attorney about anything that you are agreeing or not agreeing to. If any settlements are reached (either in part or in full) then the mediator will present rough draft copies of what is known as a mediated settlement agreement to you and your spouse. You can and should go over them with your attorney to make sure that you understand everything that is being agreed to. If something doesn’t make sense, or if the wording of what the mediator included does not comport to the agreement as you understood it please raise that issue before mediation is over with.

Will you ever have to go to court in your divorce?

Thankfully you will likely only have one court date that you will have to attend during your divorce. That court appearance will be an uncontested appearance in what is known as a Prove Up hearing. The petitioner (party who filed the Petition for Divorce) will attend a quick hearing with their attorney in court. At the prove up hearing your attorney will be presenting you and your Final Decree of Divorce to the judge for his or her approval. The attorney will ask you questions regarding the divorce decree as a means to show the judge that you and your spouse have come to an agreement and are ready to move forward to close out your case.

In all likelihood your judge will not ask any questions and will send you off on your way. The divorce decree will be signed by the judge later that day and will likely be posted online in the day following. You can pay for certified copies at the clerk’s office shortly thereafter.

One question that I am sometimes asked by clients is how much of your prove up hearing will be heard by the public. It is true that anyone can walk into your courtroom during your prove up hearing and hear some details about your case. If you are at all trying to keep the divorce from becoming an “event” or something like that I understand why you may not be too excited to set foot in court and put your life on display in front of a handful of people.

I cannot emphasize, however, that it is unlikely that anyone in court other than the court report, judge, your attorney and you will be paying attention to a word of what is said. In Harris County, for example, you and your attorney will approach the bench and speak to the judge in a conversational tone. Therefore, a person in the first row of courtroom seats will have problems hearing what is happening in your case. The bottom line is that if you are worried about airing your business for all the world to hear then you should be at ease because a Prove Up hearing is not that kind of court appearance.

Closing thoughts on same sex divorce cases

It could be that you never imagined that you would ever get married in your life. Now you are having to contend with the thought of getting a divorce. This cannot be an easy time for you and your family. However, the attorneys and staff with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are here to tell you that our office will stand with you throughout your case until your process is complete.

If you have any questions about the material that we have covered please consider contacting the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with our licensed family law attorneys. It would be our pleasure to talk with you and to answer your questions and concerns in a comfortable, pressure-free environment.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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