Todd Law Firm April 2019

April 2019 512-472-7799

Eminent Domain | Family Law | Personal Injury

Family Law Is Emotional But It Doesn’t Have to Be Painful

Family law occupies an interesting space in the legal profession. It’s the most common type of case because everyone deals with family on some level. Most lawyers are asked to take on a family law case at some point, whether it’s their practice area or not. Even when I was a criminal defense attorney, I would get calls for family law cases. Despite the constant need for lawyers to handle family law cases, there are many attorneys who won’t touch them with a proverbial 10-foot pole. There’s a good reason for that. Family law cases can be stressful, emotionally-draining marathons for both the client and their lawyer. These are legal matters, to be sure, but there’s often much more involved than just the law. Navigating them well requires sensitivity to the emotions involved and objectivity regarding the rational (and probable) outcome of any given case. We approach family law cases in a similar way to how we prepare for personal injury cases. It may sound counterintuitive, but the best way to avoid going to court is to prepare for trial from day one. Your leverage in any legal matter is always going to be more important to the other side than what may happen in open court if they don’t settle. You have to adopt this mindset from day one. By preparing your divorce, custody, or other family law case as if it will be decided in court, you increase your odds of settling before trial. It may sound strange, but I’ve seen this play out time and again. Being prepared for trial forces you to “do your homework”when preparing case details, calms you down, increases your confidence, and forces the other side to give serious consideration to settling.

hearing”. At this hearing, the court decides who lives where, who can use certain assets, and who pays what bills (including child support and insurance) while the case is pending. You should take preparation for this hearing very seriously because it establishes a precedent for decisions that may become finalized in the event of a trial. Additionally, after getting a taste of the time, stress, and expense involved in going to court and testifying at a temporary orders hearing, many people decide they’d rather settle than return to court. In that sense, a temporary orders hearing often becomes the “trial” of the case. Another unique quirk of family law cases is that they often involve the distinct but related issues of “kids” and “stuff.”The first area, child custody, needs to be handled quickly to ensure stability and protect the best interest of the child. When it comes to asset division, there is more latitude and time to discuss and negotiate. It’s important to understand that, while they are not the same thing, these two areas affect each other. The assets you receive will impact the quality of care you can provide, especially if you are a nonworking parent. Similarly, the child care arrangement you end up with affects the assets you will need to provide for your kids. Keep in mind that, whether kids are involved or not, asset division will determine your options as you move forward after your divorce. Your attorney should be sensitive to the emotions involved in these cases while also providing you with objective, clinical advice. No matter how much you may think you deserve to take your soon-to-be ex for everything they’re worth, or how much you wish the other parent could never see the kids again, the fault of a divorce rarely lies entirely with one party. Pursuing a “scorched earth” policy in family law usually only creates psychological and financial damage to the adults and children involved. A

lawyer can’t and shouldn’t serve as a therapist, so we are happy to point you toward the mental health providers we know and trust. If you’re going into a family law case to extract pain and suffering from your ex, we are not the right firm for you. If, however, you just want to provide the best possible future for yourself and your kids, then you should consider contacting us. I also recommend you consult the free guide I’ve written on the topic, “The Texas Divorce Survival Guide,” by visiting our website at Even if you’re not married, if you’re going through a breakup that involves shared children, you will benefit from reading it.

-David Todd

If you do go to court for your family law case, it is usually for what is called a “temporary orders | 1

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