Divorce Preparation – Initial Consultation with an Austin Divorce Lawyer
A common concern we encounter is people contacting our office, not sure if they should schedule a consultation or of they are even ready to be divorced. I firmly believe that if you even have the inkling to call an Austin divorce lawyer or feel that divorce is a possibility you owe it to yourself and your children, if you have any, to sit down with a lawyer for a consultation.
So why schedule a consultation? Simply put, all too often one party gets an advantage in a divorce by being more prepared. Don’t let that be your spouse. A consultation lets you be prepared should it be time to file for divorce.
At a consultation you are free to discuss your situation and home life with the attorney. This discussion is normally protected by an attorney client privilege, unless child or adult abuse is discussed or there is an ongoing commission of a crime. This discussion of your specific situation allows the lawyer to give you tailor-made advice to your specific situation.
During a consultation, you can discuss with the attorney if you have children, what the specifics of their care is and what you would like to happen if a divorce is ever filed. The attorney can then explain how child issues are dealt with in a final decree of divorce. These issues generally deal with three areas: conservatorship (which is decision making); possession or when they are with you and when they will be with the other parent; and finally support, both regular child support and also medical support in the form of insurance and payment of uninsured expenses.
In addition to child issues, an attorney can discuss with you community property and separate property. Community property being that property acquired during the marriage, exclusive of an inheritance or a gift. Separate property being everything else. You can discuss how your house can be handled or accounts that may only have one of the spouse’s names on them, such as retirement.
The attorney can also discuss alimony or as Texas calls it spousal maintenance.
This is your chance to learn about the process: what documents have to be filed and when; if court is a possibility; what is the timeline for being divorced; are temporary orders a possibility or necessity. This is also when you and your attorney should form a game plan if you are going to file. In some cases it is very helpful to file first. You and your attorney can discuss this. At this beginning stage, it is important that you and your attorney are on the same page.
Finally, this is a time when you can learn what information you need or should gather. Unfortunately, often after a divorce is filed, things change. Information that may be damning on a spouse may disappear, accounts may be changed, and social media may be deleted. By having a consultation, you can get an idea what information may be valuable to you should you go through a divorce so that you can begin to accumulate that information.
My last bit of advice about consultations is if you are really worried about the other party being upset, consider paying for the consultation in cash. This prevents the other spouse from finding out that you visited with an attorney and the questions associated with that information.
So in the end, Does this mean that you will go to court – No. But you will be knowledgeable about the process and your rights. And in this case, knowledge is power. Don’t wait.
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