Divorce among the rich and famous, contentious custody fights between high-profile parents, palimony disputes involving same-sex couples, even international custody cases — we’ve all read the headlines and followed the stories. For more than 40 years, the lawyers of Dallas’ McCurley Orsinger McCurley Nelson & Downing have handled a wide array of trailblazing family law cases in Dallas and across the country.
Famously protective of their clients’ privacy, attorneys Mike McCurley and Scott Downing discreetly shared with us some of their insights on divorce in Big D.
“Dallas is still a land of opportunity”
The system is better here. “We have some of the best divorce judges in the country, and I practice divorce law all over the United States,” says McCurley. “Unlike most cities, Dallas has specialized family law courts, which makes all the difference in the world in the quality, education and knowledge of a judge.”
Downing agrees. “Dallas judges are used to dealing with divorce every day of the week,” he says. “In most other cities, the last thing a judge wants to deal with is divorce. The Dallas family law judges typically come from a family law background and have a lot of experience in these cases. As a lawyer, a lot of what you advise your client depends on what court you’re in, so it’s important to choose an attorney who knows these judges’ likes and dislikes.”
Dallas’ can-do spirit also makes a difference, McCurley says. “Dallas is still a land of opportunity, which includes economic opportunity, the availability of therapeutic care for children and the opportunity for remarriage. So there’s a sense of optimism in Dallas, even when facing something like divorce.”
What really matters?
Putting children first: “The one thing that Dallas lawyers come together on is making sure that children are taken care of,” McCurley says. “That is also demanded by our judiciary. Over the years, it has evolved into an atmosphere where actions harmful to children are not only inappropriate, but they are also unacceptable.”
It’s not about revenge: “Divorce is absolutely as nasty and contentious as you see on TV, sometimes even worse,” Downing says. “I’ve had wives fighting over sports memorabilia because they know it means a lot to their husbands, and I’ve had husbands argue that a piece of jewelry he bought for his wife was really an investment, not a gift. But you have to pick your battles. It doesn’t make sense to spend $30,000 fighting over a $5,000 asset.”
Are all divorce lawyers the same?
Choose your lawyer wisely. “If you hire a lawyer who only practices one of the methods of divorce — be it collaborative law, mediation, arbitration or traditional divorce — they’re going to fit your case into that method, whether it should be or not,” McCurley says. “That’s not to say that any of those methods are bad. They’re not. They can be very useful.
“But divorce is a serious situation. It impacts your children for the rest of their lives. Not necessarily negatively, but have no doubt, it impacts them. Economically, it is the single biggest financial transaction most people ever make. If there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s pick your lawyer carefully. Don’t hire an assembly-line lawyer.”
For more information about the experienced attorneys at McCurley Orsinger, visit the firm’s website.