Navigating the complexities of family law in Texas can be challenging, emotionally taxing, and legally intricate. However, for the sake of your case and at times your children it is imperative that you think through everything you do. There are situations where just one mistake can leave your case dead in the water. This week I want to touch on five of these potential mistakes and how best to avoid them.

1. Not Hiring an Attorney: While sitting in the gallery of multiple family law courts, I’ve seen my fair share of pro se litigants. Unless it is something extremely simple, it never fails that they eventually anger the judge and/or fumble their case. It’s usually a mixture of not understanding the law, telling the judge half-truths, and simply not knowing when to stop talking. The practice of law is very nuanced, this is why it takes so much dedication and preparation to become an attorney. I never give anyone the advice to represent themselves, because it can lead to a horrendous outcome.

2. Allowing Emotions to Rule: As I’ve said before, family law matters are by nature emotionally charged situations. Hurt, anger, resentment, and sadness all come to the surface, but it is crucial not to let these emotions guide your decision making. I’ve seen situations where a party is so angry and wanting to punish the other side that they refuse to settle a case, only to have everything stripped away from them at final trial.

3. Failing to Document Your Case: I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve spoken with clients who will tell me “My ex said X” or “My husband did Y” but when I ask if they have any documents to help support their claims the answer is no. It is important to keep records of all communications, financial transactions, and interactions related to your case. These documents can be invaluable evidence in court and help you build a strong case. Without documentation it becomes much harder for your attorney to properly try your case.

4. Ignoring Court Orders: This should go without saying, but do not ignore direct orders of the court. While there are times where the court orders may seem just flat out wrong, that does not mean you can ignore them. There are proper legal channels to deal with these situations, but if you simply don’t do what the court orders you to do, you will find yourself in contempt and possibly jail.

5. Withholding Information From Your Attorney: I know I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but this is so very crucial. Your attorney is not there to judge you, the judge is. Though you may not want to tell your bad facts, if the other side knows about it those facts are coming out in open court anyway. It is best to give your attorney a heads up so that they can properly plan for how to deal with these bad facts and disarm the other sides argument.