Meeting a Family Law Attorney for the First Time? These Tips Can Help.

Perhaps your spouse just filed for divorce and now you need a lawyer on your side. Maybe you’re thinking about initiating divorce proceedings yourself. Or you might even have an emergency, such as a fear that your spouse is expecting a divorce and is moving money around. Whatever your situation, you’re looking for a Texas family law attorney, and you want to be prepared to make your meeting as productive as possible. 

At the Arlington office of The Schneider Law Firm, we help clients get through all types of family law issues, from divorce to adoption to domestic violence. As attorneys, our goals for our first meeting are to make you as comfortable as possible, learn about your situation, inform you of your options, and explain what we can do to help. For things to go as smoothly as possible, it’s a great idea to prepare yourself to provide a few pieces of helpful information.

1. Tell Us About You and Your Story

Having basic biographical information about yourself, your spouse and your children is very helpful. This includes simple things like names, phone numbers, place of work, birth dates, driver’s licenses, Social Security numbers, and similar items. 

It is also very useful to be able to tell us the story of your marriage or non-marital relationship. Think about how long you’ve been together, when you first met, any past relationship problems, the problems you’re having now, your children, good and bad traits you and your spouse have – these are all important. It’s a great idea to write it down, really think of it as a story. Your story helps your lawyer get to know you and your family and ask the right questions.

2. Ready Yourself to Share Personal Details

The relationship you develop with your Texas lawyer is based on honesty, trust and communication. For your attorney to be effective, he or she will need to know potentially uncomfortable and private details about you. Issues like domestic abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health history may be hard to share, but they are part of your story. Remember, your lawyer isn’t trying to judge you by asking about these things. The goal is to know everything that could be helpful in representing you and protecting your interests.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

It’s easy to be intimidated when you’re in a lawyer’s office. We’re here to tell you that you shouldn’t be. Attorneys are people, just like you. And when you meet with an attorney, you should feel comfortable asking questions and having a conversation, just like you would with anyone else. Pay attention to how the lawyer answers, and don’t be afraid to ask more questions to clarify things. You and your lawyer are a team, and the relationship is a two-way street. 

4. Make Sure You Understand What Happens Next

At the end of your first meeting, make sure you clearly understand what happens next. If you’ve decided to go ahead and hire the attorney, find out what he or she needs from you in order to start working on your case. Also, be sure to talk about any immediate steps you should take at home: Do you need protection from a violent spouse? Are there concerns about a child’s health or safety? If so, your attorney will be able to provide guidance on how to handle the situation.

We’re Here When You Need Us

Turn to the Arlington office of The Schneider Law Firm when you have any family law need in Texas. Our attorneys are friendly, experienced, and ready to get to know you. We offer a free initial consultation, and you can schedule yours by calling 817.799.7125 or contact us online.

How Health Insurance Works in a Texas Divorce

Many families are insured through an employer-sponsored health care plan provided by one spouse’s employer. When divorce becomes a reality, one spouse faces the prospect of losing health care coverage, an issue that causes a great deal of tension, particularly if children are involved. Questions about this topic are among the most common we receive at our Fort Worth, Arlington, and Keller / Alliance offices, so we wanted to share some basic information here on the blog that you may find helpful.

During the Divorce Process

Upon filing for a divorce in Texas, the judge has the power to issue various temporary orders that spell out the responsibilities of both spouses during the divorce proceedings. Typically, one of these orders will specifically address health care coverage.
In nearly all cases, the court will issue an order preventing one spouse from changing any health care arrangements while the divorce is ongoing. That means, for example, that a spouse cannot simply drop you from coverage in retaliation for your decision to file for divorce. These orders also prevent a spouse from making any changes affecting health care coverage for the children until the divorce is complete.

After the Divorce Is Complete

We’ll address coverage for children first. If the spouse who insured the family is the non-custodial parent after divorce, he or she can still be required to carry the children on his/her insurance, assuming he/she is still insured. A Qualified Medical Support Order (QMSO) can be obtained to enforce this obligation.
Coverage for ex-spouses is more complicated. To start with, good lawyers will often include in the divorce settlement a stipulation that the spouse who provided health coverage during the marriage will continue to do so for a set period of time after divorce. Absent such a stipulation, under Texas law the dependent spouse’s coverage automatically ends when the marriage ends.
COBRA becomes a key factor for the dependent spouse. COBRA allows a dependent spouse to remain on an ex-spouse’s health coverage for up to three years. To obtain this benefit, however, the dependent spouse must enroll in COBRA within 60 days of eligibility. Coverage is forfeited if this deadline is missed.

What if a Spouse Isn’t Eligible for COBRA?

Texas law allows people who aren’t COBRA-eligible or who have exhausted their COBRA benefits to use state-sponsored health care coverage. This is sometimes called “mini-COBRA.” Generally, the following rules apply:
If a dependent spouse isn’t eligible for COBRA, he or she can remain on the ex-spouse’s employer-provided plan for up to nine months
If a dependent spouse has exhausted COBRA coverage, he or she can obtain state-sponsored health coverage for six months after COBRA ends

Payments for Health Coverage

The responsibility for paying for premiums differs for every couple based on their specific situation and what arrangements they reach. Under most QMCSOs, premiums for children are deducted directly from the insured parent’s paycheck. Spouses using COBRA are usually responsible for their own premiums.

Learn More About Health Coverage and Divorce

Find out more about how your family’s health insurance could be affected by divorce by talking to an attorney in the Arlington office of The Schneider Law Firm. We’re ready to answer all your questions. Call 817.799.7125 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:
https://info.legalzoom.com/health-insurance-laws-during-divorce-texas-26098.html
https://www.divorcemag.com/articles/3-myths-regarding-divorce-and-health-insurance/