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Frisco Family Law Blog


Posted by Laura E. Jones | May 30, 2024 | 0 Comments

Ask any attorney, and they will tell you that everyone should be represented in a lawsuit, even if it is uncontested.  Is it true, or are attorneys just trying to get you to hire them?  It is absolutely true, and here is why……

Most people recognize the need for an attorney in a contested case.  Who wants to go to a contested court hearing alone?  An attorney that knows the rules of evidence and procedure can make or break your case.  Going to a Texas court is not like Court TV.  You won't be allowed to testify to a long narrative to make sure the judge understands your side of the story.  There are strict rules of procedure that must be followed.  Not to mention all the things that must happen before the big day of trial.  Failing to properly disclose information prior to trial in accordance with the applicable Texas rules and laws will ensure that you are prohibited from putting on certain evidence at trial. 

But, what about uncontested cases?  Certainly, if you and the opposing party agree on everything there is no need for an attorney, right?  Wrong!  Aside from the fact that an attorney will be able to advise you regarding Texas law and whether you would do better or worse by trying the case, an experienced attorney can also help you make sure that your agreement holds up and doesn't cause you problems down the road.  What do I mean?  Below is a list of actual, real cases in which parties have represented themselves and then had to hire an attorney after-the-fact to try and clean up the mess.

1.       Husband and Wife agreed that Husband would keep the house and Wife would be paid $50,000 for her portion of the equity.  Husband and Wife used a “check-the-box” form for their Final Decree.  The Decree awarded Husband the house and awarded Wife $50,000.  Two years after the divorce, Wife was not paid her $50,000.  Husband listed the house for sale, and Wife sued husband to get her share.  The problem is that the decree did not tie Wife's $50,000 to the house with the magic legal language that is required to make the agreement hold up.  Wife will not be able to prevent the sale and won't be able to get the Court to award her any of the sales proceeds.

2.       Husband and Wife attended mediation without attorneys and entered into a Mediated Settlement Agreement.  Husband and Wife used a “check-the-box” form for their Final Decree of Divorce and did their best to incorporate the terms of the Mediated Settlement Agreement.  Six months later, after the Court entered the Final Decree of Divorce, Husband and Wife realized that even though the Mediated Settlement Agreement included terms for conservatorship, possession, and support of their children, the decree completely omitted any provisions concerning their children.  The Final Decree included form language that provided that if there is any discrepancy between the Mediated Settlement Agreement and the Final Decree of Divorce, the Final Decree of Divorce trumps.  The parties were left without any terms for custody or support for their children and were forced to go back to Court.

3.       Husband and Wife prepared an Agreed Final Decree of Divorce using a “check-the-box” form.  In addition to the specific award of property such as the house, retirement accounts, etc, the decree also provided that each party would be awarded all property in his or her care, custody, or control that the decree did not specifically give to the other party.  Since Husband was awarded the House and Wife moved out prior to the divorce being final, all of the furniture, personal property, and family heirlooms were in Husband's care, custody, or control.  Since none of the furniture, personal property, or family heirlooms were otherwise awarded in the decree, they all went to Husband and Wife was barred from retrieving any of the items in the house.

These are just a few examples of the many, many, problems that can arise if your court order is not drafted properly.  Don't let this be you.  Don't DIY your family law case.

*Please note that Blog Posts are for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.

About the Author

Laura E. Jones



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