HELP! I NEED A LAWYER!

Helpful Tips and Finding and Hiring a Lawyer: A Richard T. Sutherland Podcast

In this podcast with attorney Richard Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas answers the questions most people ask about how to go about finding a lawyer. This blog article serves as a summary of key points. Anyone who needs a lawyer should listen to this podcast and learn the questions and answers about the process of finding a lawyer, meeting with them for a consultation and about elements of the attorney-client relationship.

Listen to Richard T. Sutherland’s Podcast About How to Find and Hire a Lawyer
HELP! I NEED A LAWYER! Helpful Tips in Finding and Hiring a Lawyer
HELP! I NEED A LAWYER! Helpful Tips in Finding and Hiring a Lawyer

Common Questions and Issues in Finding and Hiring a Lawyer for Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, and Modifications.

If you needed to hire a lawyer, how would you go about it?

Financial professionals such as CPAs are also good sources to finding lawyers. They might give you a referral to call a lawyer they know, like and trust. If the lawyer, you call works in a different area of law practice they can make a recommendation and give you the name and number for a lawyer who can help you.

What if no one you know has hired a lawyer or they didn’t like the person they hired?  

One way to find a lawyer is to ask family and friends if they know any lawyers and find out what their thoughts were about the person they hired.

Many people search the Internet and find an attorney in Google search results. If you are looking for a lawyer in a specific practice area you can search that way, for example, “divorce lawyer Wichita County” or more specifically for divorce, child support, child custody or adoption.

You can also use some attorney specific sites such as Lawyers.com or Martindale Avvo where you can find attorneys who are rated by their peers. For example, an AV rated lawyer is deemed to have the highest legal ability and ethical qualifications. Simply search in the filed of law you need a lawyer and where.

What if the attorney I found doesn’t have any recommendations by former clients or has been given poor recommendations, should I avoid that lawyer?

Unfortunately, poor online reviews of lawyers may be a result of a disgruntled client who failed to achieve what may have been a completely unrealistic goal. Worse, it may be a review by the spouse of the lawyer’s client who didn’t like the result and blames his or her spouse’s lawyer for the outcome. Worse yet, the negative review may be placed by the other lawyer.

Note that a lawyer cannot use their client’s name for a review without the client’s express permissions since the lawyer is ethically required to keep the client’s identity confidential.

Are all initial consultations free?

No, all initial consultations are not free and there are reasons why. A lawyer’s advice, as another famous attorney, Abraham Lincoln once observed, is their stock and trade. Giving their trade away for free makes no sense. Lawyer’s advice has value. In a consultation, when the client gives the lawyer confidential information, the lawyer is disqualified from representing anyone ese in their case. So, if the husband has a consultation, lawyer is disqualified from talking to the wife because of the attorney client privilege with the husband.

Unfortunately, there is a common practice by some lawyers, encouraging clients to go and speak with other lawyers to disqualify them from being hired by the other party to the divorce. Some call this an “X out.” So, if husband hires a lawyer and is worried the other lawyers in town might represent wife, they might encourage husband to go talk to the competition law firms so they can’t represent his wife.

Consultations have value. Some lawyers provide a minimum period of free advice such as 30 minutes or less for consultation and other lawyers agree they won’t charge a fee unless the person doesn’t hire them. If the lawyer is hired, the consultation will be charged since the lawyer obtained information necessary to represent the client.

How do I know whether I am going to be charged?

Ask the lawyer when you make the consultation appointment.

I don’t think it’s fair for the lawyer to charge me when all I did was ask him questions.

Lawyers provide legal advice, most often in the form of answers to questions. As you expect to pay a doctor for their advice, you should appreciate paying a lawyer for theirs as well.

What should I expect when I meet a new lawyer?

Prepare a list of questions. You should be comfortable talking to the lawyer about your questions and receiving their response and advice. The lawyer may describe the substance and procedure involved in their situation. If you do not understand, always ask for clarification.

There are no guarantees about the outcome of any case, and you should beware of anyone who claims they can guarantee an outcome. Your lawyer should explain fee and billing practices, so you understand what to expect when you receive a bill for attorney’s fees and costs.

What is a retainer?

A retainer is an amount of money determined by the lawyer as a deposit against costs and fees. There is no a standard retainer and every lawyer may determine their retainer agreement with a client. Filing fees, such as the $630.00 filing fee in Wichita County for a restraining order case, can be paid from the retainer.

As the lawyer works on your case and tracks their time, they apply the hours they work against an hourly rate and bill your retainer. The retainer may need replenishment as the case continues. No lawyer or client knows how long a case will take or what it may cost since there are so many things that can happen.

What is a non-refundable retainer?

Non-refundable retainers are fees paid in advance to secure a lawyer’s services and compensate them for the loss of opportunity to accept other employment. Listen to this podcast and learn why the better rule for practice for family law attorneys is to avoid having non-refundable retainers, for reasons including ethics and professional conduct rules.  

I don’t really have a lot of money to hire an attorney, could he represent me on a contingent fee basis?

No, contingent fees are not allowed in divorce and family law matters. It is prohibited. Richard T. Sutherland explains the unique conflict and conflict of interest between a lawyer and client if contingent fees were to be allowed in family law matters such as custody and adoption.

Can my attorney refuse to release my file to me if I haven’t completely paid him?

No, they cannot hold your file hostage for payment. Doing so may result in damage or prejudice to your rights, prohibited by Texas rules of conduct for lawyers.

I want my mother, father, sister, brother, best friend or someone to come with me when I first consult with an attorney, is that permissible?

Yes, it is common. First the attorney must explain the attorney-client privilege, that it belongs to the client, not the attorney. Richard T. Sutherland routinely explains attorney-client privilege issues and situations to clients who can make an informed decision whether to allow another to be present during their consultation and why they may be exposed to potential danger. Listen to him explain on the podcast.

Are all conversations between an attorney and a client legally protected?

No. If the client were to tell the lawyer that the client intends to engage in criminal behavior after leaving the lawyer’s office, the lawyer is required to report to law enforcement the client’s intent to commit a crime.

There are other times a lawyer must report the abuse or neglect of a child or indecency with a child. Also, changes in testimony can result in the client withdrawing from the case in open court if the client has told the attorney about some act or event and when testifying in court and denying the act or event occurred.

What if I want to change attorneys? How do I do that?

Write your attorney a letter letting him or her know he or she is discharged immediately as your attorney. If you hired someone new, as the new attorney to prepare a motion to substitute counsel and an order of substitution and to send the motion and order to your former attorney for signature. Your former attorney should be given a reasonable amount of time to copy your file before returning original documents to you which must include his notes.

Do I even need an Attorney? Can’t I just get some forms from the Internet and represent myself?

You are not required to have an attorney in Texas. If your case is going to court, you should be familiar not only with the Texas Family Code but also with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and the Texas Rules of Evidence. There is not a separate set of rules and procedures for people who represent themselves and no one at the courthouse can give you legal advice.

In this podcast, Richard T. Sutherland explains in detail the pitfalls of trying to do your own divorce using information and forms you find on the Internet.

If you say “Help! I need a lawyer!”, call The Law Office of Richard T. Sutherland at (940) 691-2100.

Located in Wichita Falls, Richard T. Sutherland is an experienced divorce and family lawyer for divorce, child custody, adoption and other marriage and divorce matters. Contact him from the website or call the office at (940) 691-2100. Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

High-Stakes Divorce in Wichita Falls, Texas

What Do We Mean When Talking About High-Stakes Divorce in Wichita Falls, Texas?

A high-stakes divorce, child custody or family law matter is one requiring experienced, aggressive and detailed legal counsel and representation. In Wichita Falls, families with high-conflict and high-net-worth concerns are best represented by a divorce and child custody lawyer who thinks outside the box and uses years of experience to their advantage. Maintaining privacy and dignity in divorce and custody cases is also important when sensitive issues become the focus of negotiation and litigation.

The issues involved in a high-stakes divorce can be issues of money as well as custody and parenting. Every custody case is unique as is every family. While determining child support can be straight forward, making decisions in the best interest of the child is not always so easy.

Especially when there are unique family circumstances and dynamics involved, high-conflict custody cases require a seasoned family law attorney with the experience to successfully strategize and navigate a challenging case. A well-experienced divorce and family law attorney, Richard T. Sutherland, is an asset in a serious custody case and high-stakes divorce in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Use this link for podcast summaries for a variety of divorce and family law topics explained by Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas.

High-Stakes Divorce in Wichita Falls
For High-Stakes Divorce in Wichita Falls, Texas, Call Richard T. Sutherland (940) 691-2100

Complex Income and Assets in High-Stakes Divorce and Custody Cases

When you divorce in Texas the assets acquired during the marriage are community property to be divided based on what is just and equitable. There are many factors affecting property distribution and how property is characterized as community property or separate property which was owned or claimed by one spouse before the marriage or was acquired by gift, devise or descent.

Meanwhile, separate property, not subject to division in a Texas divorce also includes a spouse’s recovery from a personal injury award, except for recovery for loss of earning. Determining what is separate property and what is community property can be complex and involve serious conflict and is certainly considered a high-Stakes divorce. Listen to our podcast, Community and Separate Property in Texas for additional details.

Issues involving complicated income and assets also affect how income and net resources are determined for purposes of child support and for spousal maintenance if it applies. Many people have variable income, own business and have other unique income. It is important to use an experienced high-stakes divorce attorney who knows how to address unique income and assets.

Business Ownership, Shareholder Agreements and Liability Challenges

There are many family businesses in North and Northwest Texas where large families share ownership of shares in a business and have business assets and liabilities to consider when getting divorced. There can be premarital agreements, postnuptial agreements with duties and obligations affecting the party in a divorce or related family law action involving money.

Consider the setting where your soon to be former spouse is a seated member of a board of trustees for the family business in which you and your spouse both own shares. Buying out your spouse and negotiating their exit from the board can challenging.

The more complicated things are the more there is to win or lose. The experienced high-stakes family lawyer has seen a few challenges in their years of practice and has an important grasp on what it takes to make sure they have all the facts, use the best business professionals and anticipate tax strategies people may have, all to avoid negative consequences of important decisions.  

You may also enjoy this Forbes article, 5 Crucial Steps to Make Your Divorce Less Painful.

A High-Stakes Custody Lawyer in Wichita Falls Who Does Not Back Down Easily

Children only get one chance to grow up right and be ready for a successful transition to early adulthood and their best interests must always come first. Issues regarding children involve parents having rights and duties to make decisions for them, and determine where they reside, go to school and church and more. Medical and mental health issues can also be issues of conflict between parents who do not agree. When parents cannot or will not come to a unique settlement agreement on custody issues, these decisions will be made in Court. Judges prefer parties to come to their own agreements, and while one might not like the other parent’s offer, the judge or jury decisions could be less appealing.

Richard T. Sutherland explains Texas child custody and conservatorship

In Texas we call custody, conservatorship and visitation refers to periods of possession or access to the child. While many co-parents are appointed as joint managing conservators, cases involving family violence and child abuse affect conservatorship and can result in one parent being named sole managing conservator and the other a possessory conservator. These are high-stakes child custody issues.

The determination of which person or parent has the right to exclusively determine the primary residence of a child is a contested issue that is the center of many custody trials before a judge and/or a jury. A trial on this issue alone can involve several witnesses, experts and evidence.

For Every Divorce, Modification, Enforcement or Custody Matter, Be Ready for Conflict and Surprises

When a couple decides to divorce, or the divorce become inevitable, they may start the process with the intention of being agreeable on several divorce and custody issues. As cases are ongoing during the process of exchanging discovery and participating in a temporary orders hearing, things can break down.

When agreements break down and conflict grows, it is important to have the advice, counsel and representation of a divorce lawyer with strategy experience. When it gets to the point two people cannot agree on the color of the sky, they rely on their lawyer to help them through the process and help them know their bottom line.

When there is so much to lose, getting it done right is important. When children are involved, their best interests must be the top priority in Wichita Falls family law.

Call Richard T. Sutherland at (940) 691-2100 for your consultation for high-stakes divorce in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

Divorce, Modifications and Enforcement Cases in 2019

Why People File Divorce, Modifications and Enforcement Cases after the New Year

Families look forward to the holidays and couples in challenging marriages and co-parenting situations hope for the best. While being optimistic that the holidays will bring out the best in people, too often they are reminded why they are having conflict in their marriage or with the other parent of their children.

Because Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are so important to children, many parents who know their marriage is on rocky ground, chose to put conflict aside. Many people who were thinking about a divorce, child custody modification or case for the enforcement of court orders are ready to move forward after the holidays and when the kids are back in school.

Divorce Modifications and Enforcements
For Divorce, Modifications and Enforcement Cases, Call Attorney Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas at (940) 691-2100.

Family Violence and Protective Orders

Family violence, drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse and spousal abuse are serious matters. People who don’t leave dangerous marriages and relationships put themselves and their children at increased risk.

The first move when getting out of harm can be a protective order. Your divorce lawyer can help you obtain a protective order on an emergency basis when warranted. If the other party, the respondent, violates the terms of the protective order, they can be arrested and jailed. Protective orders are serious business and should only be used when necessary to protect family members from the threat of or continued harm.

What to Look for When Searching for a Divorce and Family Lawyer

When divorce is inevitable, and the marriage is broken, it is important to be well-prepared. It is important to hire a divorce lawyer focused on divorce and family law issues, an experienced trial attorney with the experience and strategy to produce results.

Whether the matter is a new divorce, modification or enforcement suit, an experienced family law attorney will create a unique strategy in the best interests of the family and children involved. Richard T. Sutherland is a seasoned Wichita Falls divorce lawyer with a career of leadership among divorce and family lawyers in Texas.

Our website offers a growing library of blog articles and podcasts. Listen to attorney Richard T. Sutherland and learn the elements of a variety of divorce, custody and family law topics in Texas.

First Steps When Filing for Divorce in Wichita Falls

There are resources online including the content on this website to help people learn about divorce and what to expect. When someone knows they are ready to start the process and file, they must be ready to move forward. Hiring a divorce lawyer they can trust is important.

Divorce attorneys like Richard T. Sutherland appreciate that divorces can be difficult and emotional. They are accustomed to seeing good people going through rough situations.

It is important to be organized and give your divorce lawyer the information they need to create the best negotiation and litigation strategy to help you and your family.

Being Prepared for Custody Modification Cases

Custody modifications are original suits filed to change the terms and conditions of a court’s temporary or final orders regarding conservatorship and possession or access to a child. When modifications are filed within one year of the last order regarding conservatorship or possession or access, there are several factors that can be alleged to demonstrate that it is in the best interests of a child to make a modification to the custody orders.

In cases including family violence and child abuse, the court may presume a material and substantial change in circumstances required to modify the rights and duties of persons or parents having conservatorship and possession or access to the child. For example, an order naming both parents as joint conservators can change to one parent being the sole conservator. The terms and conditions of possession and access can also be restructured.  

Exclusive rights to determine the residence of the child may also be modified based on grounds and factors for modifications including the above, as well as economic situations, such as a new job requiring a parent to relocate.

Enforcing Possession or Child Support Orders

As children grow older their needs change. As parents pursue new relationships, dynamics change. Sometimes what worked well for years becomes a conflict. When possession schedules become a problem and conflict increases it can become necessary to file an enforcement suit, seeking the court’s intervention in high conflict situations. The court can find people in contempt. They court can also order additional periods of possession or access to make up for an interference with possession or access.

Failure to pay child support also leads to enforcement cases. When a child support obligor changes jobs, loses a job or has a change in employment generally, child support payments can be interrupted. Issues with child support payments and arrearages can be resolved out of court, or a new enforcement case can be filed with the court and served on the non-compliant child support obligor.

Richard T. Sutherland is a Wichita Falls Divorce and Family Lawyer for Divorce, Modifications and Enforcement Cases

In the new year and after the dust has settled, or at any time of year, things can change for people and their families and a divorce, modification or enforcement case is necessary. Richard T. Sutherland is a well-experienced divorce and family lawyer in Wichita Falls, Texas and he has a career’s worth of experience negotiating and litigating cases requiring everything from out of court agreements to significant trials before a judge or jury. He is licensed to practice law in Texas, not Oklahoma.

For a consultation for divorce, custody modification or enforcement of possession or child support, contact us online or call the Law Office of Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas at (940) 691-2100.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

Why Do People Divorce After the Holidays?

divorce after the holidays
Need to finally file for divorce after the holidays end up being the last straw? Call the Law Office of Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls at (940) 691-2100.

Five Reasons People Divorce After the Holidays

There are several reasons divorce increases after holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. In many instances people trying to keep things together can end up falling apart over the holidays and realizing their life is short and they need to make a change. But why now, during what should be the happiest time of the year?

  1. Happy Holidays for Children

Holidays are especially important to children. Thanksgiving and Christmas are a time to see grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. When parents divorce and kids may not see their extended family in the same setting. For many parents this is a reason to stay together for one more holiday season, depending on the situation and age of the children.

Divorce after the holidays gives children time to accept that things are going to change. While their extended family may still be there, things will be different. A divorce right before the holidays might be difficult for children. When the divorce comes after the holidays there is much more time for kids to adapt to change.

  1. Hope for Holiday Miracles

Life gets busy and the problems in marriages can easily be ignored. Couples in conflict know they have issues to work through. Arguments get postponed and remain unresolved. People grow apart. There is always hope, however that a Thanksgiving or Christmas miracle will spark the love and pave the way for healing.

When the miracle doesn’t come, and the conflict is reinforced by negative statements or behavior, people may realize that the marriage really is over. People are good at pretending things are okay and conflict will be resolved, but others may be able to see past the image of happiness. When the miracle saving the marriage doesn’t happen many consider accepting their feelings and seeking a divorce after the holidays.

Questions about the process? Please review this page of podcast summaries and links to all the important topics in Texas divorce, custody and family law in general: Divorce and Family Law Explained by Richard Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas.

  1. Truth and Flaws Exposed and Realized

Is it time to admit reality? The flaws that are already there seem more apparent over holidays. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, we spend more time with people. Increased interaction with a spouse with whom you have unresolved conflict is challenging. The things that bother you are inescapable. Have you ever been on a long car ride with someone you just wanted to be away from?

When couples realize they no longer love each other or even like one another, it may be time to call it quits. At times people simply grow apart. At other times people change. Things the other may do that are irritating can become so obnoxious that it drives you crazy. You start realizing you can no longer stand the former love of your life. That is when you know it may be time to file for a divorce after the holidays.

For more thoughts on post-holiday divorce, see the article on the Today Show website: Is divorce more common during the holidays?

  1. A New Year, a New Life

Do unhappy people want to spend another year in a bad marriage? A better question may be whether people spend another year trying to fix something beyond repair. As New Year’s approaches, we all look back. What did we do this year to make it great? Was it not so great? How many more years do we spend being unhappy or unfulfilled?

New Year’s resolutions for many include divorce and taking back one’s life and independence. Especially when people have wonderful children they love, they believe their marriage was not a waste. That said, a choice for happiness and personal journey may overcome the desire to remain together as a married couple.

Read our blog article, January Divorce Filings in Wichita Falls, for more thoughts on point.

  1. Support of Family and Friends

Around the holidays people seem tend to be more emotional and may talk to family and friends about marriage issues they might otherwise keep to themselves. And when the wine may flow, and emotions pour, some people may be telling someone else about their troubles in a way they can finally admit it to themselves.

It is painful admitting problems in marriage, when the holidays do not go as planned, or are not what they were in years past. Coming to accept conflict means you have an option to address problems and fix things. Accepting the reality of the situation might also trigger an avalanche of emotion leading to the decision to call a divorce lawyer and file for divorce after the holidays.

People also divorce after the holidays for additional reasons including substance abuse, family violence, cheating, financial problems and everything else that can go wrong in a marriage and family.

A post-holiday divorce might also be something that has been coming for a long time. Depending on the age of children and circumstances in the family, there could be challenges with child custody, spousal maintenance and issues over property and who will live in the marital residence.

Richard T. Sutherland is a Wichita Falls area divorce lawyer with decades of experience in high conflict divorce and custody issues. Whether you expect your divorce to be messy or you no longer know what to expect from your spouse, it is important to hire a divorce lawyer with the experience to anticipate the unexpected. Contact Mr. Sutherland via the website or call the Law Office of Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls today at (940) 691-2100.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

Wichita Falls Domestic Violence Lawyer: Recognizing and Stopping Abuse

Wichita Falls Domestic Violence Lawyer
Wichita Falls Domestic Violence Lawyer Richard T. Sutherland – (940) 691-2100

Defining Domestic Violence and Abuse

Domestic violence is behavior pattern through which the abuser keeps power and control over their partner in an intimate relationship, regardless of whether the individuals are married. Domestic violence affects people regardless of their race, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation. People right here in Wichita Falls, from all walks of life can be victims of domestic violence, regardless of financial status and access to a Wichita Falls domestic violence lawyer for help.

Physical abuse can include hurting another directly by pulling hair, hitting, biting, choking, slapping, kicking or using weapons to cause harm. Not all physical abuse leaves scars. There are plenty of abuse cases where victims are held captive, abandoned in strange places or are forced to participate in harmful situations including forced use of drugs or alcohol.

Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline Anytime 24/7: 1-800-799-SAFE / 1-800-799-7233

Common strategies abusers use to keep control over their victims:

  • Intimidation – that look, gesture, display of force, weapons and acts of destruction
  • Threats – making threats to leave, hurt, harm, or act to cause harm or embarrassment
  • Isolation – preventing the other from talking to or having access to friends and family
  • Economic Abuse –withholding money, preventing the other from making money
  • Emotional Abuse – put downs, name calling, guilting behavior, suggesting insanity
  • Undermining the Other Parent – using the children, harassing, threatening to take children
  • Using Children as Pawns – talking bad about the other, using leverage to earn favor
  • Strong Expectant Behavior – treating the other like a servant or subservient human

Why Do People Abuse Others?

To maintain power and control, domestic violence abusers hurt their intimate partners. Abusers are often internally insecure and lack feelings of self-worth and control in their lives. Some people say that abusers likely have been victims of abuse at some point in their lives. Some also say that abuse is learned through society and culture.

There is never an excuse to abuse another or commit acts of domestic violence towards your intimate partner. Regardless of the source of or reason people commit abuse, it is never acceptable.

Protective Orders and Domestic Violence

Protective Orders are available for victims of domestic violence when those victims decide to leave and get help. A protective order, based on a sworn statement and evidence by the applicant, can be ordered by the court to order the abuser to stay away from the victim, with a list of restrictions. Violating a protective order may earn the abuser a one-way trip to jail. In cases where the abuser and victim are married, a protective order is part of the initial proceedings in a divorce.

Be prepared when you seek a protective order because an already angry and agitated abuser can seek revenge including serious bodily harm and death. To be as prepared as possible, talk to your attorney, counselor, clergy member or any other who may be helping you plan to leave an abuser safely, with much attention paid to protecting you and your location and travels.

Richard T. Sutherland is a divorce and family law attorney in Wichita Falls, Texas, representing men and women with legal issues involving allegations of domestic abuse and family violence. If you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you need a Wichita Falls domestic violence lawyer, call the Law Office of Richard T. Sutherland in at (940) 691-2100.  

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

There is no good time to say, “I want a divorce.”

There is no good time to say, “I want a divorce.”

I want a divorce
Before you say “I want a divorce,” call Richard T. Sutherland (940) 691-6100

Uttering the infamous four words keeps people up at night in fear of saying, “I want a divorce.” As adults aware of consequences, we start to fully understand how much those four words will affect not on your life but also the lives of others around you. Not only your immediate family will be affected by those four words, but so also will the extended family, friends and people who find out at work. Taking the right amount of time to prepare and act helps people understand what they are getting into when announcing they are terminating the marriage.

Steps in preparing to terminate your marriage

When you decide you are done with the marriage, you have probably thought about it as a possibility for a while. Everyone has that moment they know it is time to ask for a divorce, and that is when to take the right steps in a process that will be a unique time of your life.

The more prepared you are, the easier it can be:

  1. Letting people close to you know your plan;
  2. Planning when you want to break the news; and
  3. Find the best lawyer you can so it’s done right.

Set and execute the plan to tell your spouse

Where are your children going to be? If you can, come up with a plan to have the children out of town or otherwise busy and not around when you are going to have a real conversation with your spouse.

Is it difficult to prepare for someone’s unknown reaction? Yes, but you can at least prepare for the worst when you know how they tend to react to serious news. Of course, if you are leaving your husband or wife because of family violence, you might not tell them in person and let them learn about the divorce when they get served. Never knowingly put yourself in harm’s way.

Be prepared for questions about how, why and what if anything could they do to change your mind. They might suggest marriage counseling and if that is something you can agree to, at the very least it could help make your divorce less contentious.

The anticipation of change is worse than the actual experience

Like many things in life, the anxiety of anticipation is often more stressful than the actual event of filing for divorce. Also like so many times in life, people count the days and then suddenly, the day has come and gone. Divorce, like so many big life events is very manageable and with enough preparation and the best attitude you can muster.

Richard T. Sutherland, Wichita Falls divorce lawyer, certainly understands that you might not find the best possible time to say, “I want a divorce,” but once you do, Mr. Sutherland and his staff will advise and represent you with the experience necessary to get you the best possible results in your divorce. Call Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls by dialing (940) 691-2100.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

Kids, summer and social media

Kids, summer and social media

Kids, summer and social media can be challenging for parents. Use some tools in this article to keep up.
Kids, summer and social media can be challenging for parents. Use some tools in this article to keep up.

This summer there are many social media apps and conversations going on in your children’s cell phones and devices keeping the kids preoccupied and parents wondering what they are doing and to whom are they talking?

Whether they are playing video games, texting a good friend about going to the pool later or they are heavily involved in a large group message about who knows what, all a parent can see is that the kid is glued to their phone. While this may seem innocent enough, the potential for mischief is there, and even more prevalent when kids are out of school for the summer and have too much time on their hands.

Do you know what social media apps your kids are using?

Most parents with children old enough to have a phone or device understand that kids use different social media than their parents, on purpose. While many teenagers have a Facebook account, they only post things there for parents and the more adult crowd. Among peers, kids are using everything from Twitter to Snapchat and Instagram, as well as many more social media apps to which you have never been introduced.

See this article with a list of popular social media apps for teens.

The engineers who design social media apps for teens must understand a child’s concern for privacy from spying eyes when the images on the app button on the phone looks like something other than a social media app. For example, there is an app that looks like a calculator and is actually an image storage app. Maybe the thought is that if mom or dad is looking into their kid’s phone, they will not bother to check the calculator app to see if it adds and subtracts correctly.

Find your son or daughter’s username/handle/screen name

The key is finding your son or daughter’s creative username. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, where most people use their real names in their profile, in many of the other social media apps like Instagram, the user makes up their own unique profile name, like a personalized handle they will use on all the other sites. Most people, younger and older use the same personalized screenname so because their peers will recognize them on a variety of social media apps.

Monitoring your kids’ usernames and social media profiles this summer

There are apps you can use to see what your kids are doing.

Once you find your child on Instagram, for example, and make a note of their username, you can then create your own profile on different apps to monitor your kid and figure out what they are up to on their phones all day this summer while they otherwise might be playing sports and other activities.

Most parents pause to consider whether they are breaching the parent-child trust by spying on their kids, but those concerns are quickly alleviated by concerns about bullying and all the other awful segments of humanity to which children can be exposed online and on their social media apps.

During summer break kids have lots of time on their hands and as parents it makes sense to not only pay attention to how much time they are in their phones all summer, but to also monitor their activity the best you can.

For information about Wichita Falls Divorce and Family Lawyer, Richard T. Sutherland, please call (940) 691-2100.

You can follow Attorney Richard T. Sutherland on social media and find useful articles and resources for you and your family. Richard Sutherland is on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn. For a virtual library of blog articles and podcast interviews about Texas divorce and family law please visit WichitaFallsFamilyLaw.com.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

Steps to protect your privacy during divorce

Steps to protect your privacy during divorce

Not announcing a divorce is the first step to take to protect your privacy during divorce. When some people tell others that they are getting a divorce, the response is to offer help, which is positive and helpful. In conversations about the divorce the children often become the focus of the conversation. Not everyone wants to have that conversation.

An incentive for protecting your privacy is preventing an Internet search history. Social media can be detrimental when you do not have ultimate control of the information you share about your life. A post about your divorce today, in theory could be searched online by people in the future. Make sure to change your passwords and update your security settings.

Not opening the door to information exposure

What is tied to what you make at issue? First consider that when issues are litigated in court the evidence presented, with possible exceptions, becomes public record to which anyone can gain access. For example, if small business ownership issues are litigated, sensitive business information can become public record.

Settling issues out of court prevents a record and present-day compromises may be in the best interests of anyone with business owner interests. Keeping certain issues out of court can also prevent people you know from being deposed or called to testify in your case.

Protect your privacy during divorce
Protect your privacy during divorce

Best steps at safeguarding personal information

Mediating or agreeing to settle issues you prefer to keep out of court helps protect your privacy during divorce. During the discovery phase of the divorce when information is exchanged among the parties and their lawyers, certain issues in the case can be settled by agreement instead of being litigated in open court, helping you keep financial and asset ownership information private.

In addition to privacy concerns about financial matters, many people go to lengths to prevent others from knowing they are in a divorce. Keeping your divorce a private matter until it is concluded can be a preference. Consider how people can react to information, hearing you are in a divorce, versus you recently were divorced.

For information about Texas divorce and family law please call Attorney Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas by dialing (940) 691-2100.

You can follow Attorney Richard T. Sutherland on social media and find useful articles and resources for you and your family. Richard Sutherland is on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn. For a virtual library of blog articles and podcast interviews about Texas divorce and family law please visit WichitaFallsFamilyLaw.com.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

Discovery in Texas divorce

Discovery in Texas divorce

The process of answering questions and disclosing information needed to settle or litigate your divorce petition is called discovery in Texas divorce. Each party can seek information from the other to get a more accounting of assets, liabilities and issues involving the children and parties in the marriage.

It is common that one of the spouses was the recordkeeper during the marriage and had access to all the information about finances and accounts. There may be requests for information in discovery documents to which one spouse might not have access. In other cases, spouses fail to or refuse to provide the requested information. Where needed the court can order a spouse to comply with discovery or face penalties. Subpoenas may also be issued directly to banks and institutions for records.

Discovery in Texas divorce
Discovery in Texas divorce

Different forms of discovery

Depending on the size of the marital estate or complexity of issues in the divorce, especially concerning children, the discovery process can be short and simple or more complex and litigated. Some or all the following forms of discovery can be used in a Texas divorce. Written discovery requests may be sent to the opposing party up until 60 days before trial and the responses to discovery requests must me made within 30 days unless otherwise ordered by the court.

  • Depositions. At a deposition, the other lawyer asks you questions and a court reporter is present to make a record later to be transcribed. In depositions the attorneys get the parties to lay out their testimony on issues in the divorce, which may be useful later in settlement or trial.
  • Interrogatories. A set of interrogatories is a list of written questions to identify relevant information such as the name and location of bank accounts and property. Where you work, and your income information may also be asked in an interrogatory.
  • Request for Admissions. Another written discovery option is a request for admissions in which the party to divorce is asked to admit or deny a specific statement such as admit or deny that you have a post office box where you are receiving some of your mail. The individual must respond in writing and admit or deny the statement within 30 days or it is deemed admitted by the court.
  • Request for Disclosure. A very common written discovery tool is a request for the disclosure of information about a person or party to the divorce and their legal theories as to why they should receive what they seek in the divorce. Who they may call to testify as witnesses in hearings and trial is also information sought in a request for disclosure.
  • Request for Production and Inspection. The request for production concerns the bank statements, tax records and documentation about income and assets that are organized and turned over to the law firm for review and inspection. When there are documents or items that cannot be produced for inspection in digital or paper form, they may be made available for inspection at a set time and place, such as the inspection of a safety deposit box at a bank.

How to prepare information for your lawyer

Be as organized as you can when preparing your discovery responses for your lawyer’s review so that they can prepare the proper discovery responses. The information you provide such as tax returns, bank and credit card statements and documentation about land and property is used by the lawyers and court to establish and properly distribute the assets and property of the marriage.

The better you can separate and organize your information, the more time and money you can save so your attorney and their staff can process your information. For example, statements organized in date order and fastened separately or in a folder or binder make information easy to find.

For information about Texas divorce and family law please call Attorney Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas by dialing (940) 691-2100.

You can follow Attorney Richard T. Sutherland on social media and find useful articles and resources for you and your family. Richard Sutherland is on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn. For a virtual library of blog articles and podcast interviews about Texas divorce and family law please visit WichitaFallsFamilyLaw.com.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

Divorce and the family business

Divorce and the family business

Divorce and the family business interests can become complicated, especially when spouses are both shareholders. In a Texas divorce, the court applies statutory rules regarding the process of determining what property and assets are classified as community or separate property for purposes of distribution in the divorce. See our article and podcast about Community Property for more information.

In the Wichita Falls area there are many small businesses owned by families and it is common for siblings and other family members to own shares. How shares are owned and what rights and duties are attributed to the shareholders may depend on the family business bylaws and other legal documents and operations. A well-written shareholders agreement should address spouses and what may happen in the event of death or divorce.

Does your spouse own equal shares?

If you and your spouse own equal shares in the business and you divorce, there may be unanticipated outcomes. Many of us assume our spouse will not be interested in the shares of a small family business, especially where those shares are not worth as much as cash in hand in lieu of the shares.

The failure in logic may be the assumption the spouse wants out of all aspects of you and your life. A scorned spouse with a legal right to retain their shares in the business can make your life difficult for years to come.

The jilted spouse may feel less awkward about sticking around when it comes time to vote on something like the payment of dividends. Where it had never been a problem before the divorce, your ex may be one of the deciding votes not to pay dividends, for example.

Why buying your spouse’s shares over their value makes sense.

To prevent your former spouse from sitting next to you at the board of directors table, you might want make an attractive offer they cannot refuse. If at first you offer a fair price for their shares and they refuse, increase your offer.

Even if you feel as if you are coming out on the short end of the stick and are overpaying for what you already consider overvalued shares, the peace of mind and future security in the family business can be worth your cost in the divorce.

In divorce cases involving family businesses there are a variety of ways shares are held. How you received your shares has much to do with whether your spouse will have a claim to part of the business.

Divorce and the family business
Richard Sutherland Attorney at Law Family Law Practice Areas Including High Net Worth Divorce and Divorce and the Family Business.

For information about Texas divorce and family law please call Attorney Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas by dialing (940) 691-2100.

You can follow Attorney Richard T. Sutherland on social media and find useful articles and resources for you and your family. Richard Sutherland is on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn. For a virtual library of blog articles and podcast interviews about Texas divorce and family law please visit WichitaFallsFamilyLaw.com.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.