A divorce is a lawsuit. In Texas, you must sue your spouse (or be sued) for divorce. Just as with any type of divorce suit, lawyers and parties are required to follow the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, the Texas Family Code, and the specific rules of the court that you file in. There is not one rulebook, but instead several. Courts tend to inflict harsh punishment on any party that violates the rules. Here is a list of things that you should and should not do when going through a divorce.
The Texas Divorce RULE #6: Help Your Attorney.
- Respond to any communication from your attorney in a timely manner.
- Ask questions about anything that you do not fully understand.
- Give your attorney any and all evidence that you have as soon as possible. This is important.
- Adequately (and timely) complete any paperwork or tasks that your attorney has asked you to complete in regards to your case. Your attorney likely needs the paperwork or task completed to be able to better work on your case.
- Timely provide your attorney with any documentation or information needed to complete discovery.
- Keep a record of every time you communicate with your spouse. You may need to reduce your conversations to text messages or emails so that it will be in writing. This is especially true if you and your spouse are discussing the children, assets, or are engaged in an argument with your spouse.
- Hide assets from your spouse, and not disclose this fact to your attorney.
- Intentionally withhold vital information from your attorney.
- Question your attorney’s experience or expertise. That is why you hired him/her, right?
- You won’t agree with your attorney. This is why you should hire an attorney that you trust.
- You won’t like your bill for the month. Speak with your attorney anytime you’d like to find ways to reduce your fees or if you don’t agree with or understand them.
The Texas Divorce RULE #7: Try to Land on Your Feet.
- Try to find employment if you are unemployed and physically able to work. If your spouse was your source for funds before, you will want to be able to financially survive without them (even if you get spousal support).
- If the Court has ordered your spouse to pay you spousal support, you should save all documentation that shows that you are looking for work (i.e. job applications, emails to potential employers, etc.). Chances are, you won’t have spousal support forever. A judge may reduce your spousal support (or shorten the length of time that you receive it) if it is found that you are intentionally unemployed.
- Try to find your own place (within your budget) if you anticipate that your spouse will be awarded the marital home or if you just would no longer like to live there.
- Try to live above your means. Some people find themselves in direct competition with their spouse, their spouse’s mistress or paramour, or just want things to be so different from their life shared with their spouse that they may buy lavish items that he/she cannot really afford. This will harm you in the long run.
- Waste community assets on useless or lavish expenses. This is not the time to buy the Lamborghini that you always wanted.
- You might have to withdraw some or all of your retirement or sell some stock to pay attorney’s fees; this is most true when a spouse lacks any liquid assets.
- You will have to take out independent loans, loans from family, or get a line of credit or credit card to help pay for litigation. When it gets costly, you have to decide if it is all worth it.
The Texas Divorce RULE #8: Maintain Proper Courtroom Etiquette.
- Show up to any and all hearings on time. Most courts call their docket between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. (depending on the specific court) so you’ll want to be in the courtroom by then.
- Dress professionally. You don’t have to dress as fancy as your lawyer might, but dress like you are going to a job interview for an office position or church. No shorts, flip flops, hats, sunglasses or dresses or skirts more than 2 inches above your knees.
- Speak loudly and clearly when testifying.
- Answer every question that your attorney asks you.
- IMMEDIATELY stop talking if you are testifying and you hear your attorney say, “Objection”.
- Speak over/interrupt your attorney (or the other attorney) when you are testifying. Wait until you’ve heard the full question before attempting to answer.
- Lose your cool in the courtroom. Don’t allow the other lawyer to make you upset while you are testifying in court.
- Roll your eyes, suck your teeth, etc. while your spouse is talking. Even if you know that your spouse is lying, for example, you must maintain your composure. The court reporter records everything and the judges do not tolerate this behavior.
- Speak to the judge directly when testifying unless they specifically address you.
- The court won’t hear your case, even if you are on the docket. If your setting is not a preferential setting then the Court hears cases according to what other cases are on the docket and the importance of hearing other cases above yours is weighed. In the end, it is fully in the judge’s discretion.
The Texas Divorce RULE #9: Don’t Move on Too Quickly (Mistresses and Paramours).
- Listen to your attorney’s advice concerning any extramarital affair that you had (or are currently engaged in).
- Be honest about your extra-marital affair(s) when speaking with your attorney.
- Move the person that you were having extramarital relations with into the marital home while the suit is pending.
- Bring the person that you were having extramarital relations with around mutual friends or family that you have with your spouse. Trust me, this will do more harm than good.
- Bring your children in the presence of the person that you were having extramarital relations with (without prior acknowledgment and consent from your spouse or the court).
- You will have to be discreet with anyone that you are dating. Wait until the litigation is over.
The Texas Divorce RULE # 10: Be Patient. Divorces Take Time.
- Remember that in Texas, a divorce must be on file for 60 days before a judge will sign off on your Final Order. This means that you have to wait at least 60 days after you filed for divorce to get divorced. An exception for this is rarely made.
- Remember that it takes time to attend mediation, conduct discovery, attend any hearings, etc.
- Remember that you may not always get exactly what you want when it comes to scheduling. Try to be as flexible as possible. It is likely that you (or your attorney) will need to coordinate with at least 4 schedules: yours, your attorney’s, your spouse’s, and your spouse’s attorney.
- Sign any legal document that you do not agree with, just to speed things along.
- The court will reset your hearing to another date. It is the Court’s prerogative to do so.