Mort Fertel’s Response: Is Divorce the Answer?

We have a treat today, marriage expert Mort Fertel is our guest blogger.  He is the author of “Marriage Fitness: 4 Steps to Building & Maintaining Phenomenal Love” and a very big name in the field of marriage improvement and in today’s post he discusses how people can fix their marriages and avoid divorce. So here’s Mort:

For more than a decade now I’ve helped thousands of marriages come back from the brink of divorce. In this blog post, I want to offer some insight into how.

I want to start with an email I received from a man who was in the Lone Ranger Track of my Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp. Here’s the email…

Dear Mort,

Trish and I were high school sweethearts and have lived what appeared to her to be a “Cunningham” life for 25 years. I have a successful career, our kids are normal, and Trish made wonderful holiday celebrations for us throughout the years.

But things were not as ideal as they seemed. After the kids were born, Trish turned all her love and attention to them while neglecting me. This left me vulnerable and I had 5 affairs (some real relationships) over the past 15 years.

Long story short, Trish found out one month ago about my recent one, and I confessed to the others. She’s devastated and accuses me of ruining her life and being a fake. Continue reading

Can a Client Change Lawyers during a Divorce Case?

I was recently asked by someone going through a divorce whether she had the right to switch lawyers during the case. The answer to her explicit question is yes, absolutely. A party to a lawsuit has the right to hire any licensed attorney they choose to represent them, including the right to change lawyers while a case is pending.

Does It Make Sense to Change Divorce Attorneys

The more important question that I was not asked is Continue reading

Mediation of your Houston Divorce Case

Many people going through a divorce are not familiar with what mediation entails. This article will describe the process and explain its uses and benefits in a divorce case.

What Mediation Is and What It Is Not

Mediation is essentially a settlement conference attended by both parties and both lawyers and facilitated by a third-party mediator who attempts to get the clients to reach an agreement on all issues in their case. Continue reading

What are Temporary Orders and Do They Happen in Every Case?

Temporary Orders are orders issued by a court during a divorce case (and sometimes in modifications) that address how things will proceed while the divorce is pending.  There are many different issues that temporary orders can deal with, including but not limited to these common ones:

Use of Property – For example, who gets to stay in the residence while the divorce case is pending. Continue reading

Common Law Marriage Explained

One of the most common misunderstandings about Texas family law involves informal or “common law” marriages. Many people believe that after you live together for a certain period of time you automatically become married, even if neither party wants to be. This is not true in Texas, nor in any other state that I am aware of.

How Can You Get Married Without a Wedding?

It is possible to become married without the usual requirements of obtaining a marriage license, waiting at least 72 hours and then having a wedding ceremony. Continue reading

What Happens to the Case When a Divorcing Couple Reconciles

It doesn’t happen that often but occasionally in my practice a divorcing couple will decide that they want to work on the marriage and not go through with the divorce.

Most of the time this happens very early in a case, although I have occasionally seen it even after we have reached a settlement. I suppose it can be a real wake up call to someone when their spouse files for divorce. They might realize that the situation is a lot more serious than they previously thought and they decide to really put their best foot forward to try to save the marriage before it is too late. Sometimes this works, sometimes Continue reading

Keys to Hiring the Right Lawyer for Your Divorce Case

It is not uncommon for us to be the second law firm in a divorce case, after the client has grown frustrated with the lack of progress or success that the first lawyer had. Here are what I believe are the keys to choosing the right divorce lawyer. If you would prefer to watch a video I did on this subject, you can view one on the Morgan Law Firm Austin divorce site.

Hire Someone Focused Exclusively on Family Law

One of the common denominators I have seen in divorce clients who are unhappy with their attorney is Continue reading

Radio Interview on CNN 650 on Divorce and Small Business Owners

I was interviewed a couple of weeks ago on CNN Radio (650 AM) by Kevin Price on the topic of how divorce impacts small business owners. You can listen to the interview below.


Check out this related post: How Do You Divide a Kidney? and Justia Directory listing.

Free Teleseminar on Property Division

At 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1, 2009, I will be holding a telephone seminar (aka teleseminar).  The call is free (except for any long distance charges your carrier charges) and the topic will be “The 5 Keys to Getting a Fair Property Division in Your Divorce.”

I would recommend it for anyone who is getting divorced in Texas or preparing for the possibility of divorce.  If you are interested in being on the call just visit the teleseminar registration page for details.

Informal Settlement Agreements

A relatively rarely used Family Code provision enacted in 2005 codifies the use of the “Informal Settlement Agreement” and makes it an especially effective aid in settling a divorce case.  As long as the settlement document specifically and prominently provides that it is not subject to revocation and is signed by all parties and attorneys, a party is entitled to a judgment on the terms of the agreement.  Effectively this gives the informal settlement agreement a very similar level of enforceability as a mediated settlement agreement and avoids issues that have arisen in the past regarding whether a party in a divorce case has the right to revoke a Rule 11 settlement agreement prior to entry by the court.

It is very common in my practice to use an informal settlement agreement early in a case.  When sufficient information exists to address all issues it can be very helpful to make an early offer via an informal settlement agreement, ideally in the first month or so in the case.  This will often settle the case outright, or at least begin a settlement dialogue.  In my opinion in most cases this is far more advantageous to the client than waiting until the case is several months old.  In other words, I like to begin with the end in mind and at least attempt to settle the case in the early stages.  While the informal settlement agreement is a great tool in a divorce case, based on a precise reading of the statute its use is limited to divorce cases.   As stated in the statute, “the parties to a dissolution of a marriage may agree” to reach an informal settlement agreement.  Thus, the statute appears to not apply to other family law issues such as paternity cases or modification cases and those cases are still limited to the use of mediation agreements or rule 11 agreements.

It is important to note that some cases are not good candidates for the early use of an informal settlement agreement, such as ones that require immediate temporary orders or where the client has insufficient information on the finances and discovery will be needed.  But in a typical divorce case it can be extremely helpful in reaching a reasonable resolution early, before the parties have expended a great deal in attorneys fees or gotten overly contentious about the case.