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Divorce Without the Damage

Compassion, common sense, and the priorities of the client matter at the Law Office of Joseph M. Oswald.

“A divorce is one of the toughest situations a person can go through, particularly if they have children,” says attorney Joseph M. Oswald. “Whenever possible, both parties should act as amicably as possible to come to a solution that suits everyone.”

Since opening the Law Office of Joseph M. Oswald in 1991, Oswald has worked with a wide variety of clients. His firm handles everything from probate to business cases, but the core of his practice is divorce and family law. During his 30 years serving the Austin area, Oswald has encountered many law firms with a decidedly bottom-line-focused approach to family law.

"I keep it small. I have a receptionist and a paralegal. I don't take every case that comes in the door, and I also don't create unrealistic expectations about the outcome of the divorce." [Oct/Nov 2022]

Courtroom Insight

For the past 29 years, Oswald has also worked part time as a municipal court judge, providing him with a unique perspective from the other side of the bench. That's important in his family law work, he notes, as many divorcing couples may not always consider the reality of taking their case into the courtroom.

“The judge knows very little about the divorcing couple,” Oswald says. “Yet the clients and their attorneys are asking that judge to make lasting, binding decisions about the most important things in their lives. Who gets custody of young children, and how will pickups and drop-offs work? How will assets and debts be divided, and how much support is going to be paid? That's a lot to ask of someone who has only known these people for a few hours, and it's why some decisions can seem arbitrary.”

Oswald believes that most family court judges would rather not have to make any decisions about a divorce. In his experience, most greatly prefer to sign off on orders that have been reached by agreement or through mediation. The confrontational setting of a courtroom rarely makes the situation better for either side, he notes.

“Some firms drive these cases in their own way, and the clients end up going along for the ride,” he says. “The next thing the client knows, it's $50,000 later, their former partner despises them, and they may have a horrible relationship with some of their kids because of how the other parent was treated, but at least they're divorced. It doesn't have to be that way.”