Are you thinking about filing for divorce? How will the divorce impact your emotional well-being along with your relationships? And how can you avoid making mistakes with huge repercussions?
In this episode, Justin Sisemore and Andrea Jones focus on some of the common mistakes they have seen people make during and before divorce proceedings. They share what to avoid leading to a hasty divorce and why you should consider looking for alternative options to save your relationship instead of divorce.
Justin and Andrea discuss:
- Why talking about divorce casually should be avoided in a relationship without mentally and emotionally preparing to take action
- How having an affair before or during a divorce could impact a child’s environment growing up
- What actions should be avoided to make the right impression to a judge
- What steps could be taken before choosing to divorce to fix a relationship
- And more!
Connect with Justin Sisemore
- Sisemore Law Firm
- Facebook: Sisemore Law Firm, P.C.
- Instagram: Justin Sisemore
- LinkedIn: Justin Sisemore
- LinkedIn: Sisemore Law Firm
Connect with Andrea Jones:
Read the Show Transcript
Announcer – [00:00:00] Nobody wants to end up in family court, but if you do, you want an honest, experienced family law attorney by your side to help minimize the stress, mental anguish, and legal costs that divorce and custody matters bring. Welcome to In Your Best Interest. Texas divorce attorney and entrepreneur Justin Sisemore of the Sisemore Law Firm, entrepreneur Andrea Jones, freelance writer Mary Maloney, and guests share insight on what to expect and how to handle family law matters, the changing landscape of family law, and living the entrepreneur’s life. Now onto the show.
Announcer – When contemplating divorce people often do and say things they later regret. Some actions, which may seem inconsequential at the time, even have wide ranging emotional and financial repercussions, from torpedoing a marriage that could have been saved, to losing access to the marital home, to jeopardizing child custody, and more.[00:01:00] In today’s episode of In Your Best Interest, the panel will shed light on critical actions to avoid if you’re thinking about divorce.
Mary – Thanks for joining us for this episode of In Your Best Interest. I’m Mary Maloney and today attorney Justin Sisemore, entrepreneur Andrea Jones, and I will discuss some of the mistakes people make when divorce is on their mind and how to avoid them. So Justin, a good place to start this conversation, maybe with the D word itself, right? So you’ve mentioned in the past that even uttering the word can be a bad move if you’re on the fence about divorce. Can you explain?
Justin – Sure. I think you know, one of the things we have to remember, especially in today’s society our access to information, um, and also our access to fight words and the keyboard warriors and all the things that are out there have made people, in my opinion, um, at least what we see on a daily basis, fight dirtier. And you know, the one thing that I kind of live by in a [00:02:00] lot of areas is speak it into existence. And that can be a very positive thing. Uh, but when you’re talking about divorce, um, and you don’t get the reaction out of your spouse that you may intend, uh, or desire because they don’t show you that level of love or respect or Uh, sadness or emotional response to whatever the argument is, um, then people have a tendency to use words like I’ll just file for divorce. And it starts out as kind of a joking thing. Um, and I’ve seen it, um, in, you know, personal families lives and I’ve also seen it with various friends of ours and it starts out as a joking thing and then, sometimes substances are involved or whatever else the case may be, and you don’t get that reaction so then it starts to become more serious. And that divorce word, once it gets thrown around um, it starts making people think, and, you know, when you psychologically begin to believe that someone’s capable of, uh, leaving the marriage when they’ve made a vow and a pact, you know, I know this sounds pretty trivial, but a lot of people don’t [00:03:00] understand that impact. Um, you know, I, I always joke with my mother in law, she came into our house one time and she was being totally sweet about something, but she mentioned that and I was like, get out of my house and, and I was pretty serious about that. And she was like, Justin, I didn’t know that that would upset you so much. I was like, that word never crosses this home threshold period, because when it’s said it better be meant because you start prepping for, um, the repercussions of that word, uh, emotionally, financially, physically, um, you know, and, and your kids hear these things too so they should never think that divorce is okay. Um, you know, obviously we do it, it’s inevitable in certain circumstances, but, but from a foundational standpoint to keep the family together I just don’t think it’s something that has any place in the marital home.
Mary – So on the topic of torpedoing a marriage, affairs, of course, obviously are one of the leading causes of divorce. So if someone is considering divorce, why would it be in their best interest to avoid having an [00:04:00] affair? Obviously, it’s obvious in a lot of ways, but there’s a lot of not so obvious ways.
Justin – You know, it’s interesting, a lot of the content that we cover on this podcast seems fairly obvious when the questions are phrased. But, but when you look at and you really peel a few layers of that onion back when we’re talking about the affairs, um, and why it’s important to, to wait to engage, you know, we live in a society where, you know, you want to have this feeling that you’re accepted that you’re loved, that you’re important. And, and sometimes when you’re in the midst of a divorce or a breakup, you feel none of those things. You feel less than, you feel unaccepted, you feel at fault. Um, and so people jump to another human to, to kind of rectify that feeling. And what happens is they skip over all those things, you know, in the first marriage or the marriage counseling, or, you know, your church background or whatever the case [00:05:00] may be. Um, they skip over a lot of the things that are really important, like learning about the person, learning about their values, going on dates with them, um, you know, really getting to know them and, and we skip right to the intimacy, I’m filling the void and now all of a sudden this is the new person and I don’t want to go in the dating scene obviously, so let’s just get after it and let’s just make this work. And you know, it may, it may work, it may not, but you’re sometimes fitting that square peg into a round hole and you’re doing it in an expeditious manner to fill a void that really needs to be healed before it’s filled. And so I really just encourage people to just slow down, take a breath, think about the family unit and just understand that whatever feeling you’re having, uh, is, is usually temporary. Most of these feelings are very fleeting. You know, that’s why I always preach the 24 hours, one step in front of the other, um, and, and shorten that if you’re, if your lens is getting too long at 24 hours, if you’re depressed, if you’re sad, if you’re tired, if you’re angry. Um, you know, and, and that [00:06:00] doesn’t go away in 24 hours, well, then shorten it, see if you can do it in two hours or three hours. And, you know, those habits then over time, in my opinion, start to heal and then you can make valid decisions on your personal life, including, uh, the significant other that you choose to, to hopefully spend the rest of your life with.
Andrea – And I would add here too, at this point, that also goes for the marriage. I mean, you’re talking about the part after the marriage, but I, when you see people, the grass is not greener on the other side, so fix your marriage first. Try to fix your marriage, see what is missing in your marriage instead of looking for the other person and having an affair outside the marriage when you’re not even contemplating divorce. Figure out what’s going on. There’s always baggage we bring from, from childhood or former relationships and see if you cannot fix that cause what you said, looking for love somewhere else, look for the love in your marriage and see how we can fix that first before you even go out there and start having affairs. I think many people just, it’s this throwaway society we have and grass is greener on the other side. You made a [00:07:00] vow for better or worse, so figure out it’s worse now than it was before, but how can you fix that? You, you, and you love that person at some point, you potentially have kids together so see whether you can fix that first before you call the divorce attorney. And you’re big on that, always figuring out whether the marriage can be saved before. Go to marriage counseling and all those other things first and fix yourself because otherwise you take the same baggage into the next relationship.
Justin – Yeah, Mary and just to, I always inject my personal life here because I was a product of this, um, I was a product of an affair and you know, luckily I have two loving parents that navigated through these waters, but it took years before, you know, half brothers and half sisters can be in the same room, much less go to weddings. And it’s embarrassing for, you know, the original situation and it’s embarrassing and it’s hard for me, but you know, I’ve developed some thick skin through this, but don’t think it’s easy, right? I mean, it’s not normal when kids don’t have the same last name as their [00:08:00] dad. Um, and it’s not normal, um, in school and when I say not normal, what I mean is there’s a lot of people in that environment that have, at least some degree of structure and when you lose that, it’s not that you don’t get thicker skin and it’s not that you don’t overcome and it’s not that you can’t prevail and get through these things, but it’s not easier. And I think that’s the thing that we need to remember is, you know, the fabric of society is built upon a familial unit, uh, to raise kids together and when you start making this self help or short changed shortcut, and you can’t even have the integrity to get out of the situation you’re in before you fulfill whatever tempo, temporary honeymoon, short fix. Oh, this is going to be the love of my life, but I need to make real sure by being intimate with them before I make this leap, that’s a really bad move. And it, you know, I can tell you right now, like it does not play out well. I’ve not seen anybody where[00:09:00] really an affair plays out. Well, I don’t know that you’ve ever talked to anybody if you really get down to it. And I know that there’s circumstances where, well, there’s abuse and there’s all this other stuff and so I had to get away from that and I had to jump over to this person who’s my protector. And I know that that happens, but I still don’t think that jumping into that situation before you solve the immediate problem and get divorced is the way to go. And I don’t see people land on their feet 9 times out of 10 as a result.
Mary – So kind of on a different topic here, when people are having trouble in their marriage, um, a lot of times it’s not unusual for one of the parties to pack up and move out of the house, even if they’re only planning to do it temporarily. So when is this a bad idea?
Justin – You know, the house is a biggie. And you know, this, this again, sounds like a really simple question and I get asked this question all the time. The reason the house is a biggie, it’s not because of the value of the house and it’s not because you want the house and the other, if you move out, you’re abandoning it. That is a piece of the equation. That’s a property piece of [00:10:00] the equation. And so the courts kind of look at, um, in my experience, when you leave a bunch of property, um, personal property in a barn or in a house and you’ve been gone for six months, well, you don’t really need that property on a temporary basis. Um, or if you have moved out of the house and you’ve got another place to stay and you’ve left the kids in the environment, of the house. Keep in mind that the court does not want to disrupt the environment of the children. And so if you’ve left the house and you’ve gone and stayed somewhere else and someone said, well, I just need space, so move out. I don’t, you know, I don’t see a lot of healing happening by moving out of the residence. Now, certain circumstances it’s absolutely necessary. Um, but I also get the question a lot. Well, you filed for divorce and I want them out of the house now, well, It doesn’t really work like that either.
Uh, because you gotta keep in mind the courts are trying to preserve the community estate. They’re trying to make sure that the [00:11:00] kids’ environment is a stable one. Uh, they’re trying to make sure that the parties can afford to pay for the house and we’re not reloing two or three times and paying moving expenses and all that other stuff. And so there’s a lot of factors that I think judges it kind of comes second nature, but you know, I think it’s important for attorneys to really explain that to their client Why the house is important. I don’t care about the dang house 9 times out of 10 as far as who gets it because usually it’s a situation Um, you know right now we’re in a little different time because obviously the finance rates and interest rates are way higher so it’s harder to refinance and you get people that are in a house that they’ve had for years and it’s it’s a much more affordable house. So the idea of relocating becomes much more challenging because there’s not liquidity. So those things are factors that come in, but overall the house is just, you know, the most important thing when it comes to the kids. And so I try to look at it from a standpoint of who’s going to be primary. Can they afford the house? Does this make sense? Is there equity on [00:12:00] the other side? Can we pull out you know, money from other accounts to pay out the other person? And don’t be married to the asset, but if you vacate the residence prematurely, you’re kind of setting yourself up for some pitfalls, I think, uh, down the road that you may not want to, and that’s the reason why I say don’t vacate until you speak to an attorney about these issues.
Mary – So another thing that could potentially happen is, is some people, they might pack up and move out and then not take their kids with them. That also could bring some more issues to the table in terms of custody. Can you talk a little bit about what the ramifications of that might possibly be.
Justin – Yeah, the, the, the kid issues when it comes to, uh, moving out of the house.You know, I hate when people are on this like grab of possession for kids, uh, when they move out or they’re trying to relocate. You know, I, I don’t think it’s okay that even if you’re getting a divorce, you move out of the house on day one into your parents house and you yank the kids over into that environment. I think that you [00:13:00] know, some stability should be there first. That should be the first concern. But, but what I see a lot of times happening is people are like, well, I’m going to take space. I’m ready for this now. And either one party moves out and they take the kids with them or they leave the kids at the house cause they don’t want to disrupt the environment. And so they think they’re doing the right thing, but they go ahead and get out and get away from that environment. And what, what ends up happening. 9 times out of 10 is it takes a while to get to court. It takes a while for people to get their finances together, to file for divorce or get their plan together, their strategy together. So that time that it takes creates a lens of a habit of what you guys have been doing. And therefore on a temporary basis, what the court may consider doing to continue further, uh, through temporary orders while the case is pending. So if you leave the kids in the house and you don’t, take them overnight and you don’t, you know, come get them and you don’t do these things it’s not really an abandonment issue it’s just kind of that tie breaker sometimes in a courtroom, in my opinion, where if a judge hears that [00:14:00] two parents are involved, um, and they both work, but one party has now moved out and the other party’s figuring out all the childcare and the day to day. Well, it’s kind of like, all right, I’ve got this you know, extra little nugget in the scale for this side. So let’s go ahead and leave them in the house. Let’s make them primary. And those are, those are probably a little bit too extreme. I mean, I know judges give a lot more consideration than that, but, but you know, anything we can do to create a neutral playing field, uh, to really explore what’s in the best interest of the child in state is always best. So I just, I just think just hold the phone there and talk to an attorney.
Mary – Absolutely. So another mistake when it comes to kids, of course, is parents, you know, when they’re, they’re in a marriage that’s, that’s faltering and, and there’s, there’s issues going on is they’ll start talking trash about the other parent in front of the kids. Can you talk about why this is? Again, it should be obvious that this shouldn’t, that people shouldn’t do this, but they do it all the time. Why is it such a problematic situation?
Justin – Yeah, I mean, we keep touching on [00:15:00] this in podcasts and it’s not to be repetitive it’s really to be thinking about what is actually transpiring on a day to day basis. And we’re trying to bring to light what, uh, we see most come through the firm. And, you know, the trash talking, the social media, the text messages, the Our Family Wizard. I mean, I had a case last week where my client literally is on Our Family Wizard, which basically means the judge decided that the communication was so bad between the two of them that they, um, had to go on a little app that they pay for so they can talk to each other like humans, right? Well, you would think that when you know that that communication is going before the court and you know that the court has already determined that y’all’s communication is so toxic, you would think that you’d give some consideration to how you’d speak. And I do and am keenly aware that emotion is involved in divorce cases and gaslighting happens and there’s narcissism and [00:16:00] all these words that I hear 30 times a day. But the idea that these words are recorded and given to a judge and you’re speaking this way just shows you why the toxicity is just, it just takes over. And I think that’s what the biggest craft of what we do is, is chilling people out so they act like decent humans so we can get them divorced so they can move on with their lives. So they can go to their kids weddings and their kids birthdays and these things. And so this toxic speech, first of all, clearly and obviously impacts kids in an emotional way. There’s no question about that. No counselor in the world is going to tell you that it doesn’t. Uh, Andrea has said it a thousand times. It treats it as if half the child is whatever you’re accusing the other party of being. So if she’s crazy, half their kid is crazy, because that’s half the child’s makeup, uh, judges say that all the time and so the idea that we’re going to use toxic speech and it’s going to get us anywhere, uh, in a [00:17:00] divorce case, what it will get you at my firm is a warning. Um, and then the next time will be a more stern warning. The third time you’re out and that sounds arrogant. Well, what do you mean, attorney? You’re out. Yeah, I, I, I get rid of you. I fire you. And it’s important to understand that I’m not in this business, uh, for financial gain anymore. Right. I had to get there and get to a place where I could do this for what my calling is, but I’m in this business to really deal with humans in a way that we’re actually making a benefit and an impact. And, and, and a lot of times we, we, we make that benefit and impact, but it takes a while to realize it because you’re paying the attorney, you’re listening to the criticism and all this on how to be. But the reality is if you continue down that path of you know, just being in a situation where you have to attack I can’t deal with you. I can’t because you’re doing the same thing to my team. I have a client this last week, uh, literally just wrote him a full refund check and I was like, we, [00:18:00] uh, we’re just not the right fit. Well, I, I, I don’t, I don’t understand. I hired you and I was like, well, you hired us, but we haven’t, we haven’t finished the engagement yet and you’re not nice. You’re not nice to the, to the people on my team. They don’t deserve that. They’ve done nothing to disrespect you. And you’re not going to disrespect my team and we’re not going to make progress with somebody like that. Right. They’re going to end up stepping on their own toes and cutting off their nose, despite their face. And the attorney will be the one that the gun is pointed at. And the minute that I feel that sense of we’re actually doing everything we can, but you, you don’t have a sense of compassion, um, towards people that are absolutely breaking their backs for you and you don’t see it every day cause you’re not here, but I see it. And, and you get on the phone and you call them names and you tell them what they’re going to do and they’re, they work for you and that kind of stuff, I can assure you, and I don’t mind giving refunds. I don’t mind saying bye. I don’t mind any of those things. Uh, you will be billed for the work [00:19:00] that’s performed and you will be left with, uh, in a situation where you’re finding a new lawyer. Uh, and that’s not, that’s not a position we ever want to put clients in, but we have to be real when it comes to these harsh remarks. And so when I hear this, and I know this is a long winded way of answering it, but when I hear these things being said, uh, by our clients to the other side, I put my antennas up and I know that, that those words can come right at us real quick and so just don’t do it.
Mary – So, Andrea, I’d love to get your take on this topic as well, because, um, you not only have gone through divorce with kids, but you talk to people who call the firm every day. So, um, love to hear your thoughts.
Andrea – Well, I mean, we said it many times, it’s, it’s, it’s impacting not only the kids, it’s also impacting the other side. And, and I mean, at some point you were in love. That’s going back to what we talked about earlier. You were in love at some point. You put kids in this world and again, look at yourself, those harsh words, those nasty things, accusing, all that stuff, it’s not going to get you [00:20:00] anywhere. And then, and then, of course, I’ve been in a situation where stuff was…talked about me to the kids, and then you feel you have to defend yourself. But then I learned pretty quick, it doesn’t make a difference. Kids are very smart to figure it out. And then you can say things like that might be daddy’s opinion or that’s mommy’s opinion, I have a different opinion. And then that’s it. Leave it like that, right? Just get yourself out of the situation. Don’t interrogate the kids either. That’s a common thing. They say, well, what did daddy say? What did daddy do? That is not really trash talking, but it puts the kids in a very bad situation. Figuring out that they have to either make something up or, or, or come up with something bad. It’s just leave the kids out of it. And even when you’re in the marriage, in the, in the house, don’t yell at each other. Don’t, don’t, don’t have those stern conversations. Try to not do it in front of the kids. Kids are very smart. They’ve figured this out, so, and it impacts them in so many different ways. So it’s just, it’s just horrific, horrific. And then like, we have people calling and saying all those things on the phone. And, and the staff too are very careful. It doesn’t often even get to [00:21:00] the client hiring because what’s going on is so bad and what they’re saying is so bad, whether it’s actions or whether it’s words. Sometimes they say like, Oh, I just want to take those, the kids away from that B word or whatever. It’s like, you don’t talk like that about the mother of your kids. It’s just not, it’s just not going to be tolerated. Not in this firm.
Mary – Great point. So kind of on a final topic here, Justin, um, another big mistake that people make is not preparing for divorce. So if you’re thinking about divorce, you should kind of start planning ahead and at a minimum, what steps do you think people should take financially and logistically before they even ask for a divorce?
Justin – So this sounds like the peaceful response to that, but I like to tell people not to prepare for divorce, but to prepare for life. And the reality is when you’re preparing for life, you need an inventory of what is in your estate. Especially if you have children, especially if you have a will with executors of a will and they need to know where this stuff is. [00:22:00] Um, you know, you can do a simple thing. You can put an inventory together and stick it in a safety deposit box and tell your executor, Hey, here’s my key to my safety deposit box. If anything ever happens to me, here’s the safety deposit box. It has all my account numbers. It has the access points. It has the things that you need in case something happens to you. You become incapacitated. I can’t tell you how many times, especially right now, where people, you know, get in a car wreck or they have a stroke or they just lose their faculties. Um, it happens all the time. And you know, so being prepared in life or for life is a part of the preparation for the divorce case. And I tell people also, I get a lot of calls where, parties have literally two grand in their bank account. They have $25, 000 in credit card debt. They have a $800,000 house with literally, literally no equity. They have two vehicles that they’ve, gone and bought the fancy, uh, whatever and those, those vehicles have debts associated with them.[00:23:00] And one party’s not working, but they want the divorce now. And I’m like you, that’s not going to work very well, right? There’s a time to file for divorce too, right? Sometimes where there’s family violence or there’s issues, like we talk about very serious issues, uh, there’s no choice. And I, I totally am empathetic to that, but when it’s a matter of irreconcilable differences and you don’t have the resources to support yourself, much less compound that issue with debt for attorneys, with debt for experts, um, or whatever the case may be. It can become a very, very stressful situation financially together with the stress of litigation. And so, I really try to prep people on the financial ramifications of what a divorce looks like. Um, and Andrea has been very helpful with me in that, in that aspect. And giving people this kind of runway. So like, you have, you know, temporary orders. What does that look like financially? You have the mediation. What does that look like financially? How do I budget for this? [00:24:00] So that’s, that’s, a piece of it, the attorney’s fees budgeting and it’s not so the attorney can get rich, it’s so that you don’t get stressed out in the midst of litigation. You can open your ears and we can do a deal. And then, uh, the other piece to that is really like the inventory piece, like we talked about, and then your summary timelines of events, getting your evidence organized so that it matches up with the dates on the timelines. It’s not hard stuff. This is not rocket science, but I can’t tell you how many times a client comes in because they’re overwhelmed and stressed and they start firing off hundreds of emails after I’ve said, don’t do that because you’re going to blow through your retainer and put this in your timeline, but they still fire off all of these emails, email, email, email. And what ends up happening is they burn through their retainer quickly. We have to assimilate that information into the same kind of document. And then it’s, my attorney hasn’t done anything for me. We only went to one court proceeding. It’s very important to understand 95%, I used to say 80%, it’s probably 95% [00:25:00] of the work that’s done in a divorce case is not in front of the judge. That is by design. Okay, a lot of it’s done from paralegals a lot of it’s done from secretaries and support staff to get people organized and to stretch that dollar as far as we can so the more organized you are going into the divorce and preparing for life and God forbid if you have to go through the divorce gives you a much better opportunity to a present yourself in issues in the consultation so that the strategy is succinct up front. And your attorney should be able to tell you what that looks like up front, tell you about what the boiler, you know, ballpark costs are, uh, what you can expect time wise. And we’re not psychic. We’re not clairvoyant. We don’t know all the answers. We don’t know the best electric company, uh, the best financial planner and all these things. And it’s just really important to remember that this is a relational game. Uh, the attorney, the attorney client, you know, situation is a [00:26:00] counseling and relational game. And so you have to be able to be organized up front, have a true and correct conversation with your attorney, get, get a very clear feedback mechanism and have that open line of communication. If you have that, then, you know, you may decide divorce is inevitable or it’s not. And it may be the right time or the not the right time. And so I know that’s a long way of answering your question, but I do think that that’s important to really be focusing now more than ever on getting organized in our life.
Andrea – I think you need to explain what also the timeline is, right? A timeline basically means all the incidents that happen. And if you feel that your relationship is not going the right way, or you feel that something is coming up, like Justin said, have a diary and put some dates in there or whatever that you have something to show, because those dates, you might not remember them three years from now, again, God forbid you have to go down that path, but those things are so life events are important or certain things that happen are important. And if you’ve, [00:27:00] if you plan for that and have it all there it’s so much easier. And I totally agree, you need to be prepared financially too. Don’t just leave everything to the other side. It doesn’t matter who makes more money. It doesn’t matter. You just need to know what accounts are out there, have access to those accounts because people have come up with addictions or whatever and then they blow through money and then all of a sudden there’s a credit card you didn’t know about that has a high balance on, um, things like that. You just need to be involved and know what’s going on and that doesn’t mean you control the other side, that’s just a marriage is a partnership and you should both know what’s going on. It makes it so much easier again, if God forbid you have to go down that path.
Justin – Yeah. Mary on that, on that point too, Andrea brought up something that’s really interesting there. You know, when you talk about timelines, I do not like the clients that call me and say, well, I’ve got everything documented from day one. I’ve got all the pictures and all the text. So I’m talking kind of out of both sides of my mouth here, right? I don’t want you living your life where you’re prepping for a divorce case. I don’t want you living your life where you’re prepping for a modification of your child custody case. What I do [00:28:00] want you to remember is if you’re going to counseling or going to treatment, or whatever the case may be, you need to be thinking about what the issues really are that you’re trying to fix and, and look internally first, right? And write down those things in date order and try to get the big picture out there. You know, I, I hear all the time clients say, well, my attorney didn’t ask me this on the stand. Well, that, that little, thing at the soccer game where he didn’t give you a hug when you walked by may not be that big a deal when you’ve got 30 minutes in a courtroom to express temporary orders. You know, it’s just really important to, to get things succinct, to keep those big picture items in a, in a format so that you can talk through these. I mean, I hope you don’t come here and that’s so hard for people to believe. I hope you don’t come here. I hope that you, when we talk about prepping for life and timelines, it’s you’re prepping for a counselor, a marriage counselor, or your church organization, or whatever the case may be. Um, you’re going out and you’re, you know, you’re exercising, you’re doing things with your spouse, you’re trying [00:29:00] to fix it. And, but you’re also setting your boundaries. And if you, if you’re not a good communicator and what those boundaries are, take some time, like Andrea said, write them down in a diary, in a journal, and that may get transformed into a timeline one day, but that never hurts you to be able to talk through those issues and remember them. Because I always tell people, you know, when it comes to these conversations, well, give me data points. You know, if you think that employee is not a good employee, I need the data points. I can’t just go in and say, Hey, yo, you’ve got some issues you’re, you’re not a good employee, right? Well, why? And that’s the same thing in the family household. Like, what is it that bothers you? What are the specific things that I said? And how did that go? And you can’t remember those things, you know? So, so write them down. It’s helpful.
Mary – So I think a good place to wrap up here is really talk about how important it is to get that consultation with an attorney before you make that decision to get a divorce or not, because you can really kind of understand what your options are. And a lot [00:30:00] of people think that you know, it’s also going to be really expensive to get a consultation when it really is pretty affordable. Um, can you talk a little bit about the consultation and why that is so important?
Justin – Sure. So, about three or four years ago, um, we made two transitions that have been literally the best decisions. And I’ve heard a lot of client feedback from this, uh, both during the consultation, uh, Google reviews, after we represent them, um, it’s so, it’s so ironic to me when I go through something with somebody as significant as a divorce or child custody case and I’ve gone back to my notes from the beginning consult and I said, see where we ended up and see what we talked about and this was, this plan did not really deviate very much. I know there was calls and emails and a few hearings and some discovery in between, but, but there was a plan. And the good thing about paid consults in my opinion, and I did not use to believe in paid consults and this is not self [00:31:00] serving, we don’t make a ton of money on consults I can assure you. Um, but, but the good thing about paid consults is, uh, number one, the client comes prepared because they’ve invested their time, their money, um, and also they planned for this consult, uh, when we used to do, uh, unpaid consults, people would just call and they’d, they’d have random questions, stuff we didn’t even do. I mean, you know, Hey, uh, do y’all do dinosaur law? I’m like, uh, I don’t know what that is. So, you know, with respect to to paid consults there, we’re finding that the consumer is really doing their homework. Um, they’re coming to the consults prepared. They’re actually going on Google, they’re looking at our website, they’re looking at our podcast, they’re listening and reading our blogs that we spend a lot of time on. I mean, I’m not doing this for my health and we’re not, you know, Joe Rogan. We’re not, you know, out there with 10 million followers and getting some commercial. This is truly to help people. And so the consults, um, are designed to just do that. We do not, uh, at all, uh, [00:32:00] encourage divorce. We do not at all tell you you have a case if you don’t. I turned down so many, I would say probably equal number of cases than we take. Um, from a standpoint of not only the client, but also the fact pattern. And so when you look at the costs of what a divorce or child custody case can cost or modification, uh, in the grand scheme of things, spending that 30 minutes with a good attorney and really getting that feedback. And if you don’t like the feedback, don’t be afraid to do it again. And if you don’t file for divorce tomorrow, and you’re going to file one six months from now, don’t hesitate to do a follow up consult because it’s 200 bucks. And I know that’s not chump change, but it’s also in the grand scheme of your life, not that much to figure out, well, let’s update, let’s see if there’s a new strategic attack to this, let’s figure out if we can make the, the overall process uh, less expensive, uh, or if it’s actually has a lot more serious things that we need to plan for financially, and it may become more expensive. Uh, but at least, at least that initial consult [00:33:00] gets you the ability to, to get you where you need to be. And, and I, I candidly really love doing consults. I know it’s weird, but I love it. I love talking to people. I don’t mind whether they hire us or not. Uh, people that hire us a year from, you know, our, our initial consult. There’s no pressure to hire an attorney or that day, because you talk to him, there’s attorneys who will put pressure on you because they need a job or they need business and luckily, you know, the, the good Lord has blessed us with a lot of, a lot of good clients and we don’t, we don’t pressure people. Um, but we’re going to follow, you know, the Sisemore Law Firm’s process when you’re here. And I’m very clear about that and very blunt about that up front. And, and I will tell you whether there’s a valid case or not in that consult.
Andrea – I think you need to also what Justin said, shop. Shop around and also see how an attorney prepares for the consultation. Are they just taking your name and your phone number and call you? Um, at the Sisemore Law Firm, there’s an intake form where you give basic information already, the potential, if there’s anything already filed that’s gonna be pulled up, so when Justin gets on the phone or another [00:34:00] attorney gets on the phone, they already have most of the information, so you can ask detailed questions and don’t have to lay out the entire case because the attorney has never even seen what was filed in court. So when you, when Justin always encourages people to get a second opinion, but when you shop around for a consultation, ask that, is it an attorney on the phone or is it a paralegal or a legal assistant that just gets your information? And, and, and again, it’s, it’s a half an hour with an attorney. And again, like Justin said, many, many are turned away because there is no case. I, I back in the day was turned away too, cause he said, you have no case. And, and because it was not enough information to do any, any changes in our position schedule, and he was very honest and said, forget it, just wasting your money in doing something like that. And isn’t that worth rather paying 200 than spending seven and a half, $10,000 for a case that’s not going to go anywhere because, because, uh, I don’t have enough stuff going on to even do it. I think the 200 is much better than spending seven and a half thousand dollars.
Justin – Yeah, Mary, we do, just so we’re clear, we do a lot of behind the scenes work, um, with Ashley and [00:35:00] myself, um, and our team to really think about how we, we provide the most bang for your buck in that 30 minutes. Right. And I have clients that want to tell me the life story and I’m like, hold on, let me just get you steered for a second. Let me steer you in the direction, uh, because it’s really easy to get distracted. And, and so we do a lot of behind the scenes work on providing impact and value to that consult. Setting up who does the consult at what time a day, how many days a week we do them, when we do them, where we do them, how we do them. And that’s all, that’s all designed for the customer experience. And, you know, that’s, it’s really proven to be a very, very valuable thing that we’ve. We’ve changed, um, and you know, the clients don’t have to sit down and fill out 30 pages of nonsense, come sit in an office, wait 40 minutes, leave their work, uh, their kids, all that other stuff. We’ve got it streamlined and dialed. And, uh, it’s just important to do that. Um, and, and you’ll see the difference. Uh, and I’m not saying I’m the only attorney who has that dialed in, in the United [00:36:00] States, but I, but I will say that we’ve got a very good process dialed in and I would challenge people to go get that second opinion and see what their thoughts are and see if I’m right.
Mary – All right, guys, I think that’s a great place to wrap up today. So if you’d like to contact the Sisemore Law Firm, you can call 817-336-4444. You can also visit www.LawyerDFW. com. We also invite you to follow the podcast and share it with friends you might, who might find it helpful. Thanks again for listening and have a great day.
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