Please note that the clients and lawyers referenced in the video and transcript are purely hypothetical and not based on actual people. If you prefer reading to watching, please see the transcript below:
Selecting a lawyer who is going to effectively handle your divorce is extremely important, but most people have no idea how to pick the right lawyer for their case.
What you need is a divorce firm that specializes in divorce and that has a track record of satisfied and happy clients. A firm that focuses on what should be the main objective in every divorce case: getting the client a fair result as early in the process as possible.
Lets do a hypothetical comparison of two men who have decided to get divorced.
One, lets call him Bill, mentions to a co-worker that he and his wife have separated and that he’ll be getting divorced. His co-worker enthusiasticly tells him about his lawyer nephew who handles divorces. Bill, thinking his case will be simple and his spouse will agree, ends up hiring the nephew even though he is primarily criminal lawyer. Bill thinks to himself, ‘how hard can a divorce be, right?’ 12 months later, a frustrated Bill is still not close to being divorced.
Lets compare Bill’s situation to Steve’s. Steve had heard plenty of nightmare stories from his divorced friends and knew that he didn’t want to take any chances. He wanted an excellent divorce lawyer. Steve asked these same friends for recommendations, but none of them gave what you would describe as a “ringing endorsement” of their attorney.
So Steve went online looking for the right divorce lawyer for his case. He was looking for experience, a focus on family law, and a firm that had a track record of satisfied clients. When he found a firm that fit this description he scheduled an initial consultation to meet with the lawyer and see if his experience in person would match what he found online. When it did, he hired that firm. Even though his case involved children and some complex assets, four months later Steve was divorced and very satisfied with the result.
Why were these two outcomes so different? Let’s examine what happened.
Bill’s attorney, not having much experience in divorce cases, was never entirely sure how to proceed. He was frequently hesitant to push forward on the case because he was afraid that he might miss something. He spent a lot of time on issues that turned out to be not that important, while he neglected to focus on issues of extreme importance. He just never was confident that he was handling the case correctly, so he moved very slowly and indecisively.
In contrast, Steve’s attorney knew from experience exactly what needed to be done. He focused on the steps that needed to be taken to get a fair result for Steve as soon as possible. The steps required vary depending on the particulars of each case, but what is crucial here is that Steve’s attorney remained focused throughout the case on the primary overriding objective: get Steve a fair result as soon as possible.
These two men had very different experiences. One had a divorce case filled with frustration, delay, and unnecessary expense. The other experienced a smooth, efficient process handled by a true professional.
While divorce is always an emotionally difficult and painful situation, it shouldn’t be made more difficult by having an attorney who is not qualified or experienced enough to get you an excellent result in a reasonable amount of time.
If you’re interested in working with a divorce firm that knows exactly what it takes to get a fair result in the minimum time required, then feel free to call the Morgan Law Firm. We would be happy to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation in detail along with your options. Just fill out the form below and we will review it and get back to you to schedule a consultation. If you prefer, just call our office and you can schedule a consultation right away. We look forward to helping you in any way we can.
When confronted with a Travis County divorce case (or any other location for that matter) many people will choose not to hire a lawyer, even if their spouse has hired one. Some make this decision out of a sense of guilt or a desire to not turn it into an “ugly” divorce. Others don’t really think a lawyer will make much difference in the outcome of their case. There are also those who think they cannot afford to hire a divorce lawyer. Hopefully, this article will show that you cannot afford to not have a quality divorce attorney represent you in your divorce case.
Don’t Face Divorce on Your Own
As an experienced Texas divorce attorney I have done many consultations with people who previously appeared in court or settled cases without representation and were hoping that I could undo the damage that had already been done. With a few exceptions, there was nothing I could do to improve their bad outcome. It is unfortunate because most of the damage could have been avoided with a good divorce attorney.
A Bad Decision in Your Divorce Today Can Have Long-Lasting Effects
Examples of bad outcomes include getting a bad property division. I once met with a man whose ex-wife had been represented in their divorce by a very good board certified family law attorney. The husband felt the divorce was entirely his own fault (in my experience, this is rarely true) and out of a feeling of guilt he had signed off on a Divorce Decree that not only gave his wife 100% of the community property but also obligated him to pay alimony far in excess of what a court would have ordered. About a year after the divorce his business suffered a severe down turn and his income dropped dramatically. There was very little I could do to help him at that point. This was unfortunate and unnecessary as any competent divorce attorney would have advised him strongly against accepting the settlement terms.
How Good Advice Can Make a Difference
Here is an example with a happier outcome. The client came to see me early in the process. He had been married for several years and had two children in elementary school. His wife had been talking about divorcing him for quite a while. Near the end of the summer she told him that she was taking the children and going to another city to stay with her parents. She planned on enrolling the children in school there. He told her he disagreed but she packed the kids up and left anyway. Although he didn’t want a divorce he was smart enough to realize he needed the advice of an experienced divorce attorney.
It was explained to him that if let her enroll the children in school out of town and waited, hoping that she would come back, it would greatly damage his case and likely result in her being able to get a final order making the children’s primary residence the new city. If he wanted the kids to live in the same town as him he needed to act promptly to avoid creating the appearance that he willingly allowed wife move to the children. He understood the gravity of the situation and immediately filed for divorce, allowing him to get in front of a judge and very quickly get an order requiring wife to return the children home. Had he not quickly gotten good advice and quality representation the outcome (and thus his relationship with his children) would likely have been very different.
As you can see, it is extremely important that you get sound advice and a good divorce lawyer when confronted with the possibility of divorce. If you face the possibility of divorce make sure you get advice and representation. It is money well spent.
This video explains the basics of separate property in Texas. If you prefer, you can read the transcript below:
My name is Scott Morgan, I am a board certified family law attorney. In this video I am going to give an overview of separate property in Texas.
Texas is a community property state. In a Texas divorce case all property owned by either spouse is presumed to be community property. The court is required to divide the community property in a fair and just manner.
However, you can rebut this presumption if you can prove that an asset meets the definition of separate property. In that case the asset is confirmed as your separate property and not factored into the community property division. The court has no authority to award one parties separate property to the other spouse.
Under the right circumstances this can make a huge difference in the overall outcome of a property division.
So what is separate property? There are three types. First, certain types of personal injury recoveries are separate property, but this is quite rare. Second, gifts and inheritances are separate property. Finally, property that was owned by a spouse prior to marriage is that parties separate property.
A common complication is that separate property is not always easy to prove.
You must prove that an asset is your separate property by clear and convincing evidence. This evidentiary standard is significantly higher than the usual preponderance of evidence standard.
Additionally tracing the asset back to its origin can also be challenging.This is especially true with financial assets that have mutated and grown and moved into different accounts during the marriage.
The bottom line is that if you’re getting divorced and have significant assets that you believe might be separate property, you should get a very good family law attorney to help you prove those claims.
I hope this video has been helpful and informative. If you have any questions comments or suggestions for future videos please feel free to comment below.
This video goes through the process of calculating child support in a typical Texas case. If you prefer, you can read the transcript below:
My name is Scott Morgan and I am a board certified Texas family law attorney. In this video I am going to walk through an example of a very simple child support calculation.
In Texas child support is calculated using a formula from the Texas Family Code. To calculate the child support amount you start with the payor’s monthly gross income. That amount is then reduced to allow for certain deductions, such as taxes and certain health insurance expenses. Once these deductions are made you have calculated the payor’s monthly “net resources.”
Note that this number is likely not the same as the payor’s actual take-home income. There are a lot of deductions that come out of someone’s paycheck, for example 401k contributions, that are not factored into the calculation of monthly net resources.
Once the monthly net resources are calculated, you multiply that amount by a percentage to arrive at the monthly child support amount. The percentage is determined by how many children there are, with a reduction in the percentage if the payor has other children he is legally responsible for.
As a simple example, lets take a payor who makes $96,000/year or $8,000/month. Assuming this payor is not self-employed (the net resources calculation is slightly different for the self-employed), we would look at the statutory deduction chart and see that the monthly net resource amount would be $5,920. If we further assume that the child support is for one child and the payor has no other children, then the statutory percentage would be 20%. We multiply the net resource amount ($5,920) by 20% to arrive at a monthly child support amount of $1,184.
This has been a very simple example and, as with everything in family law, there are certain exceptions that can apply, but this is how child support is calculated in the vast majority of cases in Texas.
I hope you found this video helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions for future videos please feel free to comment below.
This is a video by Scott Morgan, giving his three best tips on how to find the right divorce lawyer for your case. It originally appeared on his blog at austindivorcespecialist.com. If you would prefer, you can read the transcript below:
I’m Scott Morgan, founder of the Morgan Law Firm. I am a board certified Family Law attorney and I have practiced family law since 1994. In this video I am going to give you my three best tips for how to pick the right divorce lawyer for your case.
My first tip is to find out choose a lawyer who is experienced and focused on family law and divorce cases. Sometimes people hire attorneys for their divorce who have very little experience handling divorce cases, thinking that as long as the lawyer has trial experience of any kind that is enough. Nothing could be further from the truth. Family law is a very specialized area that is constantly changing. You really need someone whose focus is on family law.
Tip number two – find out what past clients have to say about the attorney. There is no substitute for getting actual feedback from someone who hired this same attorney and worked with him or her. If you were referred by someone you know who was a past client, all the better. Ask this person what it was like to be a client of that lawyer and, if they had it to do over again, would that hire the same lawyer and why or why not? This will give you the very closest thing to the actual experience of being this lawyer’s client before you decide who to hire.
Lastly, tip number three – After you meet with the lawyer for the first time ask yourself if you would be comfortable working with this attorney. No matter what the résumé says, no matter what the lawyer’s past clients say, if you just don’t feel comfortable with and confident in the attorney, you should keep looking.
Obviously, hiring the right divorce lawyer is a very important decision and one you want to get right the first time. Making the wrong decision and having to switch attorneys in the middle of a case is no fun. But if you follow these three simple tips you are much more likely to find the right attorney for your case.
If your case is in the Austin area feel free to give our office a call and schedule a consultation. We would be happy to see if we could assist you.
This is another interview of Scott Morgan, this time by KHOU, on the subject of facebook and divorce. See the other facebook divorce interview here.
This was an interview of Scott Morgan in 2010 on Fox Houston on how facebook can be an issue in divorce cases. There had been a lot of publicity at the time about facebook “causing” divorces. It is still common that facebook and other social media play a role in a divorce case, but the media buzz surrounding the issue seems to have died down.
As a practicing divorce attorney for the past 18 years I have seen hundreds of clients deal with situations that were gut-wrenching and emotionally draining. The most difficult of these situations are when there are children of the marriage that need to be raised by two parents, whether you are getting divorced or not. As difficult as co-parenting may be, it is a challenge that parents must rise to meet. Your marriage may end, but your obligation to do the best job possible in raising your children does not. And this obligation includes doing everything to help your child to have a healthy relationship with the other parent. The only way for that to happen is by co-parenting the child.
Although challenging co-parenting is definitely possible and in your child’s best interest. Here are a few tips on how to manage some common c0-parenting pitfalls.
When Communicating With Your Ex Keep it Civil
Depending on the particular circumstances of your divorce, it may be completely understandable that you have a lot of negative feelings towards your ex. Nonetheless, you need to put those thoughts aside and deal with your ex civilly, whether you genuinely feel that way or not. If you cannot act friendly towards your ex then at least try to treat the relationship like you would an unpleasant coworker or maybe a boss who you didn’t like. Deal with them as necessary and keep it as professional and civil as possible.
Avoid Negative Comments About Your Ex
One of the worst things you can do is to tell your child negative things about their other parent. Recognize that if you do this you are hurting your child far more than you are the other parent. If you need to vent, then do so with a friend or family member but shield your child from it entirely. Even if your ex bad-mouths you to your child, do not retaliate. Take it up with your ex and explain that, for the sake of your child you promise to never speak negatively of them in front your child and that you ask that he/she do the same.
Avoid Involving Your Child in Financial Issues
When it comes to dealing with money issues with your ex avoid discussing or involving your child. It can start innocently enough, “ask your father if he already mailed your tuition check to St. Josephs.” When the question is relayed your ex feels like he is being accused of failing to live up to his obligations and sends a message back with the child, this one a bit nastier. “Tell her it is not due for 3 weeks, so don’t worry about it.” And on and on, you get the idea. Avoid this kind of situation entirely by just calling, emailing or texting about all financial issues and keeping your child from feeling stuck in the middle.
Accept the New Spouse
It is normal for your initial (and maybe permanent) opinion of your ex’s new spouse to be a negative one. Keep it to yourself. Your child needs to feel that it is okay for them to form their own opinion of this new person in their life. Hopefully, that relationship is a positive one. Don’t worry about being replaced in your child’s eyes. While it is possible for a child to have an excellent relationship with a stepparent, there is no substitute for a healthy, strong relationship with a biological parent.
Tell Your Child How Much You Love Them
It may seem obvious that children need to hear this often (and not just young children, all children), but it is so important that it is worth addressing. When a child’s parents are going through a divorce they are very vulnerable and need frequent reassurance that they are important and loved. Don’t worry about telling them too often, you really can’t overdo it.
While co-parenting can definitely be challenging at times, it is worth it. Do it right and when your children are grown they will tell you how much they appreciated that their parents (unlike many of their friends’ parents) were able to get along and avoid dragging them into their disagreements.