Divorce Attorney Charla Bradshaw on Emotion, Fear and Reality

Divorce Attorney Charla Bradshaw on Emotion, Fear and Reality

by Steve Gamel

Charla Bradshaw doesn’t need reminders of how difficult divorce can be on a family. The Denton native has been an attorney for more than 23 years, and in that time has worked her share of bitterly contested cases as well as those unfortunate ones where only one spouse wanted the marriage to end.

Simply put, divorce brings about an emotional time for everyone, and there are sure to be endless questions and fears. But not one case Bradshaw takes on begins or ends with her clients feeling alone or afraid.

That’s because they have the right lawyer – and friend – in their corner to guide them every step of the way.

“I want them to think, ‘I was represented to the fullest, and now that it’s over, I have more resources to help me,’” said Bradshaw, who is the managing shareholder of KoonsFuller Family Law’s Denton office. “I don’t finish someone’s case and it’s, see ya later. People need to be able to come out of a firestorm the best they can. It’s extremely satisfying to know I brought someone through that difficult time and helped them with their future.”

Bradshaw is known for summarizing some of the most difficult cases, both locally and internationally, and her vast experience in family law has made her a clear choice as an expert for speeches, television and radio stations looking to discuss divorce-related matters.

She’s also very much that local girl from down the street who after all these years still prides herself on being a servant to the community in which she lives and works. We are pretty sure Charla could practice anywhere in the world and be successful, but she chooses to stay right here in Denton County, where her and her husband-and Republican candidate for Texas House District 64 – Rick Hagen, both work and live.

That’s why people feel an instant comfort level when working with her and the team at KoonsFuller, which has built its own solid reputation as the largest family law firm in the Southwest.

Yet bringing a person, or an entire family, through a divorce storm is not easy. Divorcing spouses or those contemplating it often struggle to take those first difficult steps. They hear horror stories from family members and friends who have gone through it, or they read about nasty litigation online, in the papers, or on television, and believe those exact circumstances will play out when it’s their turn in the courtroom.

Questions such as, “What will happen to my house?” or “How will I support myself?” consume their lives. And if there are children involved, there will be a different set of hesitations and obstacles to overcome.

So how do we slay those fears?

Bradshaw says the biggest thing people need to realize is that no case is the same. In fact, they couldn’t be more different. What you see in the news has nothing to do with the specifics of your case, and most of the guidance you could get from a non-attorney is unrealistic or misguided.

With that said, the first step – even if you aren’t sure what your next move is – is to consult
with an attorney.

“People will hesitate because of the fear of the unknown, but it’s so much better to seek answers from a lawyer than someone else,” Bradshaw said. “Even if you don’t end up filing, it’s a very wise first step because you have a chance to talk things through and learn ways to protect yourself.”

Bradshaw added, “The goal of a family lawyer should never be to tell people they need to
get a divorce.”

But taking preventative measures helps, and they include keeping a detailed checklist of events and evidence – such as posts on social media, pictures, videos, etc. – that may be beneficial in a court case. An attorney can think of things most clients wouldn’t.

To that end, Bradshaw takes the title of “family lawyer” to a whole new level. Most people wouldn’t know this, but after graduating from Denton High School in 1980, she got her undergraduate degree from Texas Women’s University where she also worked on her masters in marriage
and family therapy.

Charla completed all her masters’ coursework with the exception of her thesis because she opted to go to law school instead. Her decision to switch careers wasn’t made lightly. She had been accepted into the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University and wanted to see that through after working as a paralegal temp at a family law firm in Houston.

But having that marriage and family therapy knowledge allowed her to approach her legal career differently.

“I think it’s a very good thing when a lawyer understands the dynamics of a family relationship, and I feel like that knowledge helps me in this job almost as much as anything I learned in law school,” Bradshaw said. “Divorce is personal, and you learn a lot about the family and their kids. I’m able to make suggestions most people don’t think of. They think the next step is litigation, but it’s not. It’s best to offer alternatives first.”

One of the first things Bradshaw said she does when she sits with a prospective client is to try to understand why the marriage broke down in the first place and if either spouse tried counseling sessions or explored other possibilities.

Bradshaw said one of the best parts of her job is that there are thousands of ways she can help her clients, and her resources are limitless. Since no divorce case is the same, there are so many factors that come into play, such as property, children, paternity and pre/post nuptial agreements. It’s important to have someone representing you that will look out for your best interests first.

“This is the finalization of a relationship and it will affect the family and the kids. Life will look completely different afterward, so before someone throws in the towel, I personally want to know all that they did to try to help the situation. And I want to know if they are emotionally ready,” Bradshaw said. “I have referred couples to marriage counselors first. Even if it doesn’t work, at least I’ve tried.”

Bradshaw said there are lesser-known options out there that need to be explored more often. Options like collaborative law help to keep certain family cases out of the court system. And even when the divorce process is over, Bradshaw said she helps clients with everything from career design to future counseling, finding ways to protect themselves and their children, and other post divorce matters.

“My clients are placing the most important part of their lives in my hands, so they need to feel like they can talk to me about anything,” Bradshaw said. “It’s important to me that their needs are always being met.”

And that they know there is life after divorce.


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