Working in family law means that a number of the cases we try involve children. In family law, the inevitability is that decisions are made based on what’s in the best interest of the child. If a case is litigated, the judge will use that as a measuring stick. If it’s negotiated, all of us at the Law Office of Lisa Vance are mindful of what’s best for the children, not just at the time of the divorce but in the future.
So, in trying to help clients make ethical decisions, the first step is to help parents keep perspective on what’s really important. Ultimately, protecting and taking care of children is the most important outcome of a divorce that involves children. That obviously involves decisions about parenting time, but it also extends to how assets and debts and divided.
Emotions can get in the way of this. When a person feels wronged in divorce, that person might want to “win,” no matter what the costs or the implications. This can result in that person having some unrealistic expectations about sole custody or a disproportionate division of the marital estate. As an attorney who sees the importance in ethics, and in helping clients make the best decisions for themselves and their children, I let someone know if a demand is unrealistic and–if the case is going to litigation–is unlikely to be granted by the judge.
It can be particularly challenging if a case involves parents of a child who weren’t married or even romantically involved. I’ve worked on cases in which two people created a child, who don’t have any sort of emotional connection, yet have to settle custody and child support matters for 18 years. There’s really no basis for them to interact other than conflict, and yet they’ve brought a child into the world, and need to do the right thing in looking after that child’s well-being.
Even if there are no children in a divorce, there are still ethical choices the divorcing couple can and should make. This includes honoring and understanding the Texas Constitution and how it regards community and separate property. Couples without children won’t have to interact if they choose not to after the divorce, of course. But if one or both parties figures the divorce is a last chance to “get even,” or are otherwise clouded by strong emotions, it can be much more difficult for the parties and their lawyers maintain a solution-oriented divorce.
That is, of course, ultimately part of helping clients do the right thing–talking about what’s reasonable vs. what’s not, thinking about what’s best for all involved, and pursuing that in an ethical and principled way. If that’s important to you (and, perhaps more importantly, your children) as you start your search for a family lawyer, you should talk to us about your case and how best to proceed.