Whether you are the person wanting a divorce or are being served with divorce papers, the process can be an emotionally draining one. It is important to prepare yourself for the time, frustration and expense that comes with the divorce process.
I often have clients tell me that they want to get the divorce over with immediately. Here in Texas there is a sixty-day (60) waiting period after filing and so often people assume that once they file for divorce everything will be done two months later. The reality is there are so many factors that add to this time line making it almost impossible to finish this process that quickly. Factors that delay this process include: a missing party (not knowing where this person lives or how they can be located and served), disputes over custody or visitation (there may be additional hearings and filings requiring an independent third party do an evaluation of the homes), disputes over division of property (this may require the parties to go through what is called discovery), conflicting schedules of the parties and the courts (smaller counties often only have a day or two a week they hear such matters), a request for mediation, etc. It is not unusual for this process to take up to a year or even two and so it is always important to really flush out the issues of the case at the beginning to try to manage the case in the most efficient manner possible.
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People going through a divorce are generally displeased with the other party which in and of itself creates for a more antagonistic environment and process. Deciding at the outset, both on your own and with your attorney, how you’d like to set the tone and attitude for your divorce is important. Understand that just as every person approaches a divorce differently, so does every attorney. Your expectations should match up to those of the attorney you decide to hire. It is important to keep in mind, that especially where younger children are involved, there is at least a decade of co-parenting ahead of both parties. Even if you choose to take a more amicable approach that doesn’t mean the other party will. The level of mudslinging and accusations that may come along with a divorce can be overwhelming and extremely hurtful so make sure you surround yourself with a strong support network that you can turn to.
Potential clients generally want an amount up front as to how much the divorce is going to cost them and are often discouraged when I tell them it depends. The most pointed thing I can tell someone is that the more often I have to go to court, the more it will cost. Behind the scenes there is basic paper work that has to be filed, pleadings, motions, settings, discovery and it is easy to give ball park amounts for most of these paper related documents. The uncertain part comes when try to estimate what is going to happen along the way. Any time there is an issue and you need your attorney to handle it immediately it generally requires that the attorney try to confer with the opposing party, if no agreement, has to file a motion asking for the requested relief, set a date where the parties can be heard before a judge, prepare for the hearing, and actually have arguments before a judge on the issue. This takes time and money and there just really isn’t a way to anticipate what type of emergencies may come up before the trial. A “final hearing on the merits” or trial is the last hearing where everything is decided. As discussed before it takes time to get to this hearing and hopefully before you get to this hearing your attorney can give you a better timeline as to how long the trial will take. If you are wanting it to be heard before a jury, that takes more time and prep work, if you want to call five to ten witnesses you may be looking at a whole week depending on how many witnesses the other side calls. If your case requires some sort of expert testimony, you will likely be paying the cost for that expert to come and testify too which can also become very costly if their testimony requires a lot of time or if multiple experts are needed.
Managing your expectations at the outset is crucial to your ability to cope with this process. Never hesitate to inquire about the time or cost associated with your case and always be honest about what you realistically can spend. If hiring a $5,000.00 expert is not feasible then work with your attorney to figure out what other options or evidence is available to you to help your case. Although the process is not an easy one knowing what to expect makes the process slightly more bearable.
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Rogers Garcia Patton, PLLC
310 S St Mary's St #865
San Antonio, TX 78205
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