Divorce & Family Law

Divorce and Family Law Issues

If you need legal help, you can reach The Shea Law Firm at (832) 592-7913 or send an online message.

The Shea Law Firm helps families get through the divorce process with a constant eye on working towards your goals and preserving your sanity through a very difficult time. Depending on the circumstances, you may need representation for an uncontested divorce, a contested divorce, or a collaborative divorce.

Uncontested Divorce

The cost of divorce in Montgomery County does not have to be expensive. In an uncontested divorce, for example, the parties have agreed in advance how to divide marital property, allocate debts, arrange for custody of minor children, and set child and spousal support. My reasonable, flat fees for a no-contest divorce are:

  • $750 for uncontested divorce with no minor children, no property, and no retirement assets. This fee is valid through 6/30/15.
  • $2,500 for uncontested divorce with minor children, real estate, or retirement assets. This fee is valid through 6/30/15.

The County District Clerk does charge a filing fee to file your case of approximately $300. The exact amount varies with the details of the type of case being filed (i.e. is the respondent going to be served and is there a request for temporary orders). I do not charge for postage, copies, or paralegal fees for your uncontested case. My flat fees cover the entire cost for your uncontested divorces, except for court costs, and are paid in full at the beginning of your case.

Important points to remember in an uncontested divorce:

  • I represent and go to court with you. I do not provide documents and send you on your way;
  • Even though it is uncontested, a divorce is still a divorce which is litigation. The case name is You v. Spouse and it is not allowed for one attorney to represent both sides to a lawsuit. I can represent you, but I can not give legal advice to your spouse even in an uncontested situation.

Contested Divorce – When Both Sides Do Not Agree and Court is Needed

Not every divorce starts off with both sides agreeing on issues of custody, support, or property division.

Is your divorce contested?

A contested divorce does not mean one party objects to getting the divorce. In almost all contested divorces both parties want a divorce, but they have not resolved the vital issues of custody, support, and property division. One quick way to tell if your case is contested is if your spouse had you served with a divorce complaint then odds are your divorce is contested.

How much does a contested divorce cost?

When you need a divorce and family law attorney to protect your rights in a contested divorce The Shea Law Firm is ready to stand by you. Legal fees in contested divorce cases are determined at reasonable hourly rates.

Collaborative Divorce – When Both Sides Do Not Agree, but You Can Work Together Outside of Court to Reach an Agreement

What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is a process through which you and your spouse, and each of your attorneys, commit themselves to resolving all issues of the divorce by negotiated agreement without resorting, or threatening to resort, to costly court proceedings. Collaborative divorce uses informal methods such as voluntary production of financial documents, four-way conferences, negotiation, and where needed, outside professionals such as accountants, financial planners and family counselors. While some lawyers may refer to themselves as being collaborative in style, true collaborative lawyering requires commitment to the “no court” aspect of the process. One way or another you and your spouse are going through this divorce together and the Collaborative divorce process can make it easier when used appropriately.

The collaborative model provides an opportunity and an incentive for everyone involved to use their best efforts to reach agreement. If this is not possible, then by the terms of the agreement between the parties and their attorneys, the parties are free to seek litigation counsel. Lawyers therefore have an incentive to facilitate agreement, rather than to foster conflict between the parties. In the event that the collaborative process is unable to resolve all the issues in dispute between the parties, agreements reached during the collaboration can be preserved, and litigation can focus on the remaining issue or issues, limited and defined by the less expensive collaborative process.

The Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

The collaborative process is designed to be less time consuming, less expensive and less confrontational than traditional adversarial divorce. Clients are better able to focus on pertinent issues because stress and anxiety are effectively reduced. Money saved in the collaboration can be used to jointly engage the services of other professionals, such as financial planners or tax accountants. An additional benefit is that the collaborative process is more private than a contested divorce generating court filings, transcripts and hearings in open court.

Collaborative resolutions are reached through a process in which  clients have more control and settlements have been designed to meet each party’s needs. These agreements are designed to be more sustainable over longer periods of time. Like the agreements reached in mediation, there is less post-judgment litigation in divorces resolved by collaborative methods. The non-combative atmosphere diminishes hostilities, allows the parties to preserve and enhance that which remains of their relationship, and allows them to learn to work cooperatively during and after the divorce, managing finances and co-parenting children.

How it Works

You and your spouse each choose individual collaborative lawyers that you determine are best able to represent your needs.

The parties and their lawyers agree upon and sign a collaborative case representation agreement. By agreement, one of the spouses is designated as the “plaintiff”. That person’s attorney prepares the “pro se” paperwork for the divorce to be served on the other spouse and filed in court so that the divorce conforms to all the legal and procedural requirements of Texas law. After the case is filed, the parties exchange financial and other information, and participate in negotiations and meetings designed to work out resolutions to all the issues that face a divorcing couple. No motions are filed or argued in court while the divorce is pending, nor do the parties engage in formal “discovery”. All financial information is produced voluntarily and no discovery motions are filed, subpoenas issued or depositions taken. If necessary, the parties jointly engage the services of a specialist to help with the resolution of complex issues (i.e. business valuations, tax planning or customized parenting plans). Ultimately, all agreements are reduced to writing in a form that is acceptable to the court. Each attorney prepares whatever paperwork is necessary for his or her client. The lawyers arrange for the case to be placed on the court calendar for the only court appearance that is required — the “final uncontested hearing” where the agreement and required paperwork is presented to the court for approval.

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