Family Law Attorney Q&A3 min read
When should I consult with a divorce attorney?
It is never too early in the process to consult with an attorney. Engaging with legal counsel early allows you to make informed decisions and avoid potential pitfalls – increasing your ability to achieve your goals. Remember, consulting with an Austin divorce attorney does not mean that you will be divorced; you may need information about the family law legal process. A common problem that I see is clients wait too long to contact an attorney to obtain legal advice and could have ended up with a better result if they had been informed about their options earlier.
What should I bring with me to the initial consultation?
Because family law matters can be very stressful, it is a good idea to write down any questions you have and bring them with you to the first meeting so nothing important is forgotten. You may also want to bring any documents relevant to your case if available – such as federal income tax returns, or documents concerning your assets and debts. If you signed a pre-marital agreement or any other kind of property agreement prior to or during your marriage, bring a copy to the consultation.
I was just served with divorce papers. What should I do?
You should retain a divorce attorney as soon as possible so they may provide legal advice regarding what has been requested and any hearings that have been scheduled. Once retained, your divorce attorney will file an answer on your behalf.
My spouse and I would like to only hire one attorney for our divorce. Is that possible?
In Texas, one attorney may not represent both spouses. Nor may a divorce attorney retained by one spouse give legal advice to the opposing party. Do some research to find out if your state allows representation by one attorney.
I understand that I have to go through mediation for my divorce. Is that true?
In Travis, Williamson and Hays Counties, mediation is required before a final hearing will be held in a family law case. In mediation, a trained, neutral third-party acts a facilitator for the settlement discussions between the parties and their respective attorneys. If an agreement cannot be reached during the mediation process, the parties may decide to resolve their issues via litigation.
How long will it take to get a divorce?
The time required to develop the final terms of your divorce is highly dependent on the number of issues to be resolved and the willingness of both parties to reach an agreement. In Texas, there is a statutory waiting period of 60 days after the Petition is filed before the divorce may be finalized.
Do both spouses have to consent to the divorce? What if one of us does not want the divorce?
Texas has a “no-fault” divorce statue. This means that a divorce can be obtained, even if only one spouse desires it. You do not need the agreement of your spouse to file the Original Petition for Divorce or to pursue a divorce.
What does it mean when an attorney is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization?
A family law attorney who wants to be Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization applies to the Texas Board of Legal Specialization to take a day long written exam to become Board Certified in Family Law. Of the 78,032 attorneys licensed to practice law in Texas, only 691 are Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, or less than one percent of the lawyers in the state of Texas.
* In addition to taking a written certification exam, family law attorneys applying for board certification in family law must have demonstrated extensive expertise in matters such as divorce, property division, child custody, child support, paternity and other matrimonial matters. Specific requirements include:
- Must have been licensed to practice law for at least five years
- Have devoted at least 35% of his/her practice to family law for the last three years
- Have experience handling a wide variety of family law matters
- Have received recommendations by fellow attorneys and judiciary members
- Must pass a day-long written exam on family law issues such as divore and child custody
- Demonstrate regular participation in family law continuing education seminars