Natalie Koehler | Divorce and the Ranch: Unique Issues in Rural Divorces

Today we welcome Natalie Koehler to the Texas Family Law Insiders podcast.

Natalie has been practicing family law for 20 years and currently serves as the elected Bosque County Attorney. 

After her own divorce, she transitioned her firm, Koehler Law Firm P.C. to mediation, finding it was a fit for her peacemaker personality. A sixth-generation rancher, Natalie is sitting down with us today to share her special insight into rural family law cases.

Our time together was packed with a lot of valuable insight. Listen as she walks us through:

  • Key strategies for handling property issues in rural divorce – horses, cattle, equipment and ranch land
  • Her two single biggest pieces of advice for a successful mediation
  • Three steps family law attorneys can take to get plugged in to state bar activities (even if you are from a rural area or are just starting out)
  • The one thing you should never compromise (this is critical, especially for young lawyers)
  • Plus much more

Mentioned in this episode:


Natalie Koehler: I would really like the lawyer to, one manage expectations before they get there. Don’t set them up with false hope.

Voiceover: You’re listening to the Texas Family Law Insiders podcast. Your source for the latest news and trends in family law in the state of Texas. Now, here’s your host attorney Holly Draper.

Holly Draper: Today we’re excited to welcome Natalie Koehler to the Texas Family Law Insiders podcast. Natalie is a 1999 graduate of Texas A&M University and a 2002 graduate of South Texas College of Law in Houston. She’s the current elected Bosque County attorney prosecuting all misdemeanors, Child Protective Services cases and protect orders for victims of domestic violence. She’s held this office since 2009. While in law school, Natalie was an active member of the South Texas Law Review and a participant in the school’s nationally recognized Moot Court program. She served as the Texas Young Lawyers Association President from 2011 to 12. And as a Director for the State Bar of Texas.

She’s a current member of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association board, and the Texas FFA board of directors. Her primary practice is rural family law mediation. She mediates five days a week in 12 different counties. She’s often hired because of her knowledge of horse, cow, farm equipment and ranch real estate. In her spare time Natalie enjoys traveling, cooking and volunteering at Camp John Marc, a camp for special needs children. She’s proud to be very involved in her children’s activities, especially helping them compete in equestrian and rodeo events. Natalie’s the founder of Spirit Christian Girls’ Retreat and annual retreat held in Clifton, Texas. She and her husband Blake reside on the family ranch in Cranfills Gap. They’re members of the First Baptist Church and lead classes at Gap Youth Connection on Wednesday nights. Thank you so much for joining us.

Natalie: Thank you for having me. I’m excited.

Holly: So why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background?

Natalie: Well, I’m six generations of farm and ranch family in original Frisco in Collin County. My parents were there for many years, my grandparents, my great grandparents. We lived on a farm up there, which is now between 720 and 380 there in Collin County, and we bought a ranch in 1984 in Bosque County, in Cranfills Gap, Texas, which is about population 281. So it’s tiny, and I never in a million years thought I would live there in practice, but I wanted to live on the ranch and raise my kids. And when we left Frisco, and I got out of law school, I knew that’s exactly where I wanted to live and practice law.

Holly: So how would you describe your current practice?

Natalie: So my current practice is, I’m the county attorney. So I do protective orders all the CPS cases, and advise the commissioner’s court on civil matters. But I practice family law and have been practicing family law for almost 20 years. And so about six years ago, I went through my own divorce and kind of transitioned my practice into mediation. I knew that I wanted to like help people resolve the situation instead of maybe keeping it going. And my kind of peacemaker personality was suited for that. And so then the word just kind of spread and I started picking up more mediations. And now I do that five days a week, sometimes. Well, many times two a day. So a lot.

Holly: So with being the county attorney in a small county. How much time does that take as compared to your regular practice?

Natalie: Well, it depends on the county you live in. So mine is a smaller county. So I’m a part time county attorney, which means I don’t get paid a full time salary to do those things. And so I have docket three or four days a month, two or three misdemeanor dockets, and CPS day, one day a month, and then Commissioner’s court I’ll attend as needed. And so I can kind of schedule those mediations around when I have court. And it’s a really it’s a it’s a flexible position.

Holly: Interesting. Yeah, definitely from much bigger areas and can’t imagine the county attorney position not being full time and being able to continue your private practice on top of that.

Natalie: It’s fun.

Holly: So I know you’re also have a lot of state bar service. Can you tell us about your history with the State Bar?

Natalie: Yes, ma’am. I started my involvement with Texas Young Lawyers Association through the moot court program. I was a moot courter at South Texas when I was in law school and loved it and kind of got involved and met a lot of people that I just loved. Again, being from a rural area it was it was kind of hard, it was a good way for me to like get out of town and go eat it good restaurants and things that we take for granted when we live in city. But I met so many great people and just kind of worked my way up and knew I wanted to eventually run for president. And I wanted to represent prosecutors all over the state because we hadn’t had a prosecutor president before and I wanted to represent small town rural lawyers.

And so I was super excited when I was elected president of Texas Young Lawyers and 11-12. One of the best experiences of my whole life just getting to know how The State Bar works the great work that the state bar does that I think sometimes gets misconstrued or doesn’t people don’t know about. And so that was just that service aspect of my career was one of the best times of my whole life, I loved all the projects that we got to work on the was able to take my prosecuting background with the protective order guide and a video about teenage drinking and things that I’ve used in my everyday life and put it towards public service projects that went out and are still being used today.

One of the projects I’m most proud about is a mental health project that’s still being used very, very frequently by TLAP. And it was called Breaking the Silence. And that was an idea that I had for a project after losing a colleague there in Bosque county to suicide. And so I knew that mental health was very important subject we needed to address with lawyers. And so it just kind of makes me beam with pride when I see that that still gets talked about today.

Holly: So what, tell us a little bit more about the mental health project that you that you did for TLAP.

Natalie: So it’s called Breaking the Silence. And we did a series of podcasts before podcasts were really a thing back in 2011. And it was basically little modules where you could just talk about suicide, or you could talk about depression, or just anxiety or career burnout, or things of that nature. And we put them all in little sections where we could talk about lawyers could go directly to that part, and just listen to that. And so over the years, presidents that have come after me have expanded that project. But that project won an American Bar Association Project of the Year Award, and it’s something I was really proud of.

Because, you know, 10 years ago, even Erica Grigg, and those at TLAP will tell you, there was such a stigma, even 10 years ago about talking about your mental health in your profession, because you would appear weak, and you don’t want to do that. And so now, we’re so much more conversant about it, you can talk about it, we’re open about it. And it’s not a bad thing, it just means it’s something that you’re dealing with, just like any other health problem that you might have. And so I was I was excited that we were kind of on the forefront of coming up with that.

Holly: So today, we’re here to talk about a little bit different topic than that, specifically, the unique issues that are involved in rural family law cases. And you know, I, big city girl myself, so I really don’t have much knowledge at all about those types of issues. So I’m excited to chat with you today and kind of learn a little bit about that and see how we can help out people who, because I’m sure, even in a big city, you may touch on these issues from time to time.

Natalie: Yes, ma’am.

Holly: So what makes rural family law cases different?

Natalie: Well, in in rural family law cases, we talk more about farm equipment, horses, cattle, ranch real estate prices, or just real estate prices in general. Now I have I have a broad mediation practice. So not all of mine are rural, I still I have cases in Austin, I have cases in Collin County, sometimes if somebody’s word of mouth has spread. Dallas lawyers, you know, I have tons of Fort Worth. And so even if they live in town, and town being a city, so to speak, they may still own a ranch, you know, down by where we live, or they are they’ve inherited 10 to 12 acres, and they don’t know the value of the property. And so those are things that I get to talk about. And being born and raised on a cattle ranch and my dad being a farmer, I was able to take that background and use my knowledge of those things.

And when sometimes the lawyers don’t always have that knowledge, and so they kind of count on me to be like, do you know what the going rate is for real estate in Bosque County? Do you know what the going rate is in Hamilton County? And I’ve kind of expanded my practice that goes everywhere from Breckenridge and Graham down all the way to Fredericksburg over to St. Angelo, Brady. And so I have about 12 counties in that section. And you it’s just people from all walks of life. So when I’m talking about, say horses, for instance. The horse is worth 50,000, because somebody is taking it to the National Finals Rodeo. Well, that’s not something that this everyday lawyer that doesn’t have these cases is going to know about.

But I know that people that ride the horse and I know that it makes it more valuable. And so you know, it’s funny, the lawyers that will come to me and say there’s no way that horse is worth 50,000, or that cutting horse in Weatherford is worth 100. And I’m like, well, the genetics of that horse are da da da da, and yes, it is. But I know the background. I know the genetics. I know where these horses have been. I know what it means when you bring me something and you say it’s earned this much or this is its sire or this is its dam. Those are things that I know about, that the lawyers don’t always know about. So they trust me to figure it out. Now on cattle, I keep up with cattle prices. My husband runs a bunch of cattle and he is a rancher, my dad’s a rancher.

And so, my background when whether you own 10 cows on your little place that you’re retiring on when you move from Plano, or you own 350 head of mama cows, you know, out at your ranch, I checked the process from Oklahoma City, which kind of sets the market. And so I know before I get to mediation what the going rate is for cattle that week. So I can, when you bring your inventory to me, and you’re saying, you know, I think these cattle these, these 10 head of cattle are only worth $8,000. I can say, oh, no, that’s way too high, or that’s way too low. And it helps the lawyers find some common ground. And they trust me, do you know what I’m saying? They trust that I’ve done my homework before I get there, because that’s what I live and I get to do.

Farm equipment. I check Ritchie Brothers Auction. And, you know, I’ve got combines and tractors and, and trailers and goosenecks and this and that, and I’m able to know okay, well Ritchie Brothers Auction site the other day said this combine was worth da da da da da. And it helps the client I think, feel more at ease. If they know that that’s my background. And they know that this isn’t just something I just made up, you know, that I that I’ve actually put the time in before their mediation to find that stuff out.

Holly: So when you’re normally when you’re seeing clients who have horses, cattle, ranch equipment, do they typically come in with a pretty good idea of what they’re actually worth? Or are they just out in left field when it comes to value?

Natalie: Well, this is when one of the tips I would give for for mediation is just to manage those expectations and have that research done before you get there. I’ve worked with some of the same lawyers two or three times a week I get to see them. And so they know that a lot of that I’m going to come in with. So if we’re in a hurry, and they just booked me, you know, and they’re like, hey, can can you bring the knowledge to the table, then? Yes, I will. But it helps me when they’ve already done that inventory. And the clients expectations are managed. But it is kind of funny, Holly when people will think that, like if it’s a new person I’ve worked with and they don’t know how much I know about rural issues.

And so they put, you know, oh my this these head of cattle, I had somebody do that the other day, these head of cattle only worth like, you know, $500 or you know, and this horse is only worth 1000. But I know that they’ve taken it to a World Series Team Roping, you know, so I know it’s worth 30. And so those kind of things we can kind of talk through, but I would prefer if the lawyers would do some of that, you know, preparedness before I get there. But it does help me to strengthen the lawyers argument with their client to say, hey, Natalie knows this stuff, she’s going to help us come up with the best numbers to put on our inventory.

Holly: So do you think people are pretty forthcoming when they have the championship horse? Or so they have, you know, something that has really good bloodlines? Do they try and hide that?

Natalie: No, not usually. Not usually, they don’t. They usually try to come. You know, most of the time horse people, know horse people. And it’s funny, because that’s where I got started in my career was in Stephenville which is the rodeo capital and cowboy capital of Texas. And so it’s all these pro rodeo people. And so it’s funny barrel racers always think their horses are worth more than anything else. And not only that, but those are babies, do you know what I’m saying? A lot more. No, like, they’re not taking my baby. And so you can always get more money off a barrel horse with a with a barrel racer, because she’s gonna want to hold on to it because she loves them so much. And so that helps.

And then I also do ranch real estate a lot. My mom’s a broker, she sells quite a bit of property down where we live. And so the knowledge of that that’s really where we get caught up. It’s not so much on the horses, the cattle or farm equipment values. Well, farm equipment in some tools, you know, that ends up being a kind of a contested issue, but the value of property. And when COVID came, you would have thought that people would have kind of shut down the real estate market down where we live, it was the exact opposite. Everybody wanted to live, where we live, do you know what I’m saying? Now that they can work from home and Zoom. And they were like, let me get out of the city.

And I want to be able to live on this 10 acres or 15 acres or even, you know, bigger places. And my mom’s real estate market boomed when she started selling ranches like crazy during COVID. And so that background that I have of ranch real estate or property prices around us has helped my mediation practice too. And that’s usually when I get the most dishonesty, I guess from a client when they’re like, well, no, we you know, it’s only worth 2000 an acre when right now the going rate around us is 7500 to 10,500. So, it’s crazy, the disparity that can come when I’m doing a mediation like that.

Holly: So we deal a lot with traditional real estate and traditional neighborhoods, not a lot of land, and it’s usually very easy to get any realtor to give you a CMA to get an idea of where it may stand for value. Is it more difficult when you’re dealing with ranch real estate?

Natalie: It’s harder because we don’t have as many appraisers. So we can get a broker’s opinion pretty quick. But for trial purposes, if you’re going to want a certified appraiser, you know, we’ve got one that’s really great and Stephenville, but you can’t all hire him. So you know, I would tell somebody that was looking for a job and they’re thinking about going out to appraise property come to the come down to the country, because there’s explosive market and we need that. But with that comes the trust by the lawyers of those, the one guy they know is really good, or, or the two people they know in this four or five county area that they know are really good.

So it helps us to say, okay, we’re going to use this one for mediation, and we’re going to come in, we’re all going to stick with their price. And when that kind of homework is done, before I get there, it makes my life so much easier. Because a lot of times I’m the one that’s ended up trying to split the baby, so to speak, and figure out what the median price should be. And if the clients are coming and willing to negotiate, you know, that’s just all mediation, but if they’re coming and willing to, to acknowledge that it helps. But if we can get that homework done beforehand, and everybody says, you know, oh, so and so is the best appraiser around, let’s just get him to do it before we get there.

Holly: Do you ever see people, you mentioned splitting the baby? Do you see them splitting the ranch? Where if they have a lot of acreage, instead of getting a value on it, they divvy it up?

Natalie: Yes. I mean, Holly, we have to get creative a lot of times. Especially when somebody thinks it’s worth 20,000 an acre, you know, and you’re like, oh, man, I gotta get this person to be realistic. But with bigger tracts, what helps is we can say, okay, the wife is going to keep the house and this part of the acreage, the husband’s going to keep this part of the acreage. Where we run into problems is when there’s not a well, there’s not septic, there’s not electricity. And so say there somebody is getting a raw piece of land with no barns, no improvements. And we have to factor that in. And luckily my mom doing so much real estate than I know the cost of putting in a septic. I know the cost of running electrical lines. I talked to her about that stuff all the time. I talked to her about what is the barn worth?

What are these good fences worth? What is a half inch deer place worth compared to a low fence cattle ranch worth? What are the Ag exemptions on the property? Are they already there? Can they keep them? These are things that I know before I get to mediation that I can talk to the client about that their lawyer may not always know, you know. So it helps to be able to be like, okay, if you’re gonna take this piece of raw land, that’s next door and you’re going to take 30 acres and they’re getting 10, but they get the house, then we need to look on this place and go, okay, it’s going to cost you 10,000 per septic, it’s going to cost you 15 for electricity. And let’s build that in when we’re doing our negotiations. It helps.

Holly: So when you’re dealing with a lot of mediations in rural counties, and you know, these smaller counties, do you see unique issues related to lawyers being in general practice instead of being more specialized, which we typically see in bigger cities?

Natalie: Yes, most all of them are general practice. And you pretty much can’t live in a small town and not do some sort of family law. I think a lot of us would like to say, okay, we’re not doing we’re only going to take criminal cases, or we’re only going to take family law cases. Now, the plaintiff’s bar is kind of different. Some of them that small towns, they just do plaintiffs work. And that’s all they choose to do. Because there’s so much discovery and thing that comes along with that. And family law has gotten so much more specialized with our new discovery rules and things that we have to keep up with that many of those lawyers that just do family now, that’s all they can focus on.

And but I would honestly highly recommend to any baby lawyer coming out of school, and I talked about this last week at prosecutors conference, give a small town a chance. There’s tons of internships, there’s tons of programs that you know, I know, Baylor Law School and SMU’s Law School, have a rural internship program where you can go and get matched with a rural prosecutor’s office and they find you a place to live and they help you do this externship. It is it is the best kept secret in my opinion, because you are immediately getting out there and learning what to do in the courtroom. You’re learning a little bit of probate, you’re learning a little bit of family law, you’re learning a little bit of civil work. And you can kind of learn those things from people that want to help you because we are smaller bar when there’s only 14 lawyers or so we want to see you succeed.

We want people to come into our community and thrive. And I think it’s just kind of the best kept secret in my opinion about learning to be a good lawyer rather than just jumping out on your own and staying in Houston. You could go out to some of the surrounding counties and learn, you know, go down towards Crystal Beach and Chambers County and learn down there or Liberty, or some of those where we really, really need lawyers in these rural areas. West Texas, especially. Some of the cities that I go into may only have one lawyer in the whole town, you know, and that’s, it’s like, man, this is a bird’s nest, you could have a ton of business, if you would just move out here and start helping these underserved communities.

Holly: And probably a much lower cost of living.

Natalie: Very much, and have a really cool old building and stuff like that, you know, on these neat town squares and stuff. It’s just kind of that quintessential, To Kill a Mockingbird way that you look at practicing law. And you can do that in a small town. It’s really neat.

Holly: So as a mediator, what is your best advice for attorneys for preparing for a successful mediation?

Natalie: I would definitely say managing expectations. I don’t like to be the deliverer of the bad news all the time. And that’s when it’s really hard on me when I have to say, this is not your separate property, you were never going to get to keep this, you know, when the lawyer hadn’t prepared them for that before they got there, because they oversold the case, you know, and so when I get there, and I have to kind of clean that up, it’s hard on me. And normally, and since since I have been through divorce, and I can kind of get that rapport with the client, even, you know, I don’t know what it is most of the client, most of the lawyers I’ve worked with, or have never been divorced.

And so I get an immediate rapport with the client, and I can visit with them about like, hey, I’ve been there, I’ve lived it. And I’ve raised kids and co parenting and done all these things. So that helps to kind of deliver some of those tougher messages. But I would really like the lawyer to one manage expectations before they get there, don’t set them up with false hope. And two come prepared. Like, it’s hard when I’m having to like go and you know, look at my notes from Oklahoma City or Ritchie Brothers and like figure out all these prices, when I just really would like an inventory or a spreadsheet. When I have to create the spreadsheet for you it makes it just doesn’t utilize our time very well.

But I have to do that a lot. I have to come up with the spreadsheet to show an analytical client. Look, it’s 50/50 on here, are you seeing this? A lot easier if their lawyer would do that before they got their to kind of manage those expectations. And I work with some fantastic lawyers in these smaller towns, and a lot of them. I mean, I wish I could hire him to do my Excel spreadsheets, they’re so good at it. And they’ve got those accounting brains. And those are the really good ones I like to work with because I can come in and all I do is take their spreadsheet and I can run back and forth in rooms and get it knocked out, you know, really quick.

Holly: Going back to the ranch real estate topic. Whenever we’re dealing with conventional real estate and and as part of a divorce, we always have to look at mortgage refinancing, cashing out, those types of things. Are those dealt with similarly in the ranch real estate arena?

Natalie: Yes, ma’am. And a lot of times, it’s just buying out the the equity just like you would on a house, you know, and you always get those people I want my name off of that. And I want them to refinance that. One of the good things on these larger tracts of land, most of the time, that is separate property of the person that came into the marriage, they or if they’ve been extremely successful, and they’ve bought 1500 acres or something, we can partition that. So then everybody goes their separate ways. And there’s no exchange of money, which is really, really nice. I like those kind of clean cut ones when we can do that. But most of the time, we can, you know, you do the same thing deed to trust, a secure assumption, those kind of things to secure the debt for the other person. But it’s, it’s a lot easier when I can just, you know, cut it down the middle and figure it out and be done with it that way. There’s a lot less paperwork for all the lawyers to have to do.

Holly: So a lot of the lawyers that listen to this are often young lawyers looking for advice and things of that nature. So you’ve gone from being a small town attorney to being very involved in State Bar activities. How can young lawyers who maybe aren’t coming from a big firm or aren’t coming from somewhere with attorneys who can help them get plugged in. How, what should those attorneys do to get themselves plugged in?

Natalie: Well, what I would do is find a mentor first of all, wherever you live. Whether that’s a small town or a big town, you need to find a mentor. That’s the one thing I want to tell, especially my baby CPS prosecutors, I’ve been doing CPS for 16 years. When they just jump out and think I’m just going to start representing parents and they don’t ask for help, it clogs up my docket. Do you know what I’m saying? And there’s a way you need to go and sit and watch how a CPS case is handled. Every county is different regional council handles things very different the way than I handle them. Some rural counties you’ll walk in, they’ll be regional council and they do it the same in like 10 different counties.

But if you’ve got the county attorney that has a family law background that does it, I run a very efficient docket. And so you need to find a mentor in that county or go watch and ask, hey, what is this look like? What am I supposed to do? Once you find that mentor, I think then you can start saying, okay, what are you plugged into? Are you plugged into Dallas Association of Young Lawyers? Are you in Collin County Young Lawyers? How do you get on Texas Young Lawyers board? Well, what I did, I didn’t have anybody in Meridian, Texas, or Stephenville, Texas to tell me how to get involved in Texas Young Lawyers. So I just emailed through the website. I was like, hey, I was in moot courter. This looks fun. Can I be part of this? And they were like, yes, more the merrier.

And so most of the time, don’t be scared to jump out there. And most of the time, they’re going to be like, yes, come on, and help us just get involved in this little bitty, you know, committee for Toys for Tots or something at Dallas Association of Young Lawyers. That’s a fun little thing. Like they need people to help with that. And then you just kind of grow your network. And that is how you can find a mentor too. And so by getting plugged in, I’ve told so many young lawyers, this when I meet them. Just get in the little subcommittee, and then it’ll start to increase your involvement.

And you it’s just so much fun to meet these people and have somebody to call that maybe you’re not on the other side of a case with and you can bounce some things off of them and say, hey, what do you think about this argument? What what do you think about that argument? I’d also tell him, you know, you’ve seen it, and I think this is maybe how we connected but just our Texas Family Law Lawyers page on Facebook. Like get on there and ask questions. And then message somebody on the side and say, hey, can you help me with this? Or do you know, judge so and so I wish more people would call me because I do have such a relationship with all these judges in these in these 12 counties that I work at.

I wish somebody would call me and say, hey, what do you think what how does judge so and so usually do things out there? What do they usually want? And then I can tell them before they get there, and you don’t embarrass yourself when you go to court because you remember how stressful it was when you were a baby. You didn’t know what to do. And you’re like a nervous wreck to go before judge so and so you know. So I would say get a mentor, volunteer for a sub committee and kind of start getting involved in the community of lawyers around you, because it that just helps you tremendously.

Holly: I think that is all excellent advice. Even if somebody is in a bigger town, yes. Help them get plugged in. So one of the questions that I always ask on podcast, and you’ve already given quite a bit of advice, I’m still going to ask this question anyway. Is if you could give one piece of advice to young family lawyers, what would it be?

Natalie: Well, other than finding a mentor would be to be conscientious and ethical. No client is worth selling your soul for and I think when we’re baby lawyers, we’re drinking the Kool Aid so much about winning and wanting to be successful and all this, but being collegial. And being honest, and ethical is the most important thing that I think anybody can be. Because that follows you. And it’s not worth it. You know, how emotional is Holly in family law and I did it for you know, 16 years full time. I used to think I had to listen to every single story and everything my client told me was true. And I was gonna go to bat for them, and I was gonna defend them till the end. And then you get slapped upside the head and you realize, like, oh, they weren’t telling me the truth at all, or that’s not the way that that went down.

And, and so you don’t want to sell your soul for this client that you’re helping with this one issue, and ever do anything unethical. Because you think it’s helpful helping your client when you’re going to have 20 more Sally’s or Jane’s or Bill’s or whoever’s coming later. And you need to maintain that relationship with your opposing counsel. And that ethical reputation, so that people respect when you say something, and they know that you’re telling the truth. I will tell you this, Holly, when I’m in mediation, I know the lawyers I work with that tell the truth. And I know the lawyers that don’t tell the truth. And I work with them all the time. So I know, I can tell room to room and I can sit there when I’m working on a Mediated Settlement Agreement and tell the lawyer honestly on the other side, hey, this Holly, you can trust her.

Like you’re not going to have a problem in the decree. She’s not going to nitpick it. When she tells you that this was what they agreed to. This is what she agreed to. Now, there’s some lawyers that I’ll say we better type more in this agreement, because they’re the ones that nitpick it and they’re the ones that are going to say I never said that. I never agreed to that. And you don’t want to as a baby lawyer, be that guy. You know, you don’t want to be that one. You want to be the one that says I can always call Holly Draper because I know that she’s always going to tell the truth. And she’s gonna want to work with me on the next round when we’ve got that. So always always maintain your ethical, you know, character, because that’s just, it’s critical, it follows you.

Holly: I agree 100%. And having other network of other attorneys who believe the same way and who function that way makes all of our lives so much better.

Natalie: Yes, don’t be difficult just to be difficult either. That’s another thing. I want to say, I see it more when I do big city stuff, because small towns where we all have to see each other every day. So you, nobody wants to be the one that’s a thorn in anybody’s side. But don’t just make, don’t just send out a ton of discovery just to be difficult when you’ve got literally, you know, less than $20,000 worth of assets that you have to divide. Like that that’s not a effective use of your client’s money. And that’s not a you know, I don’t believe in billing clients just to bill them. And I don’t like to see lawyers that do that. Because I, sometimes I’ll work with lawyers. And I’m like, why did you do all that? That wasn’t even necessary.

And so don’t be difficult just to be difficult, or think you’re just being an advocate. Because that’s not an advocate. Our job is to be a counselor, our job is to get them the best result. And with as little pain in my mind, as we can, you know, help them help take some of that emotional stress off of them. Not fire him up to keep it going. I don’t like to see that when I go to mediation. And I have lawyers that just want to keep picking and just be difficult, just and it’s like this is not about you. This is about their life. So stop it.

Holly: Right. Yeah, there are certain lawyers that we see on a regular basis where as soon as once somebody from certain firms gets hired, we know this is going to be a lot more expensive than it has to be. There aren’t any real ways that we can shut it down. Because it’s allowed under the rules.

Natalie: Being mean, it’s not, that’s not advocacy. Do you know what I mean? Being hateful in and running someone through the wringer is not advocacy, in my opinion. It’s just, that’s just for your personal gain, not for the client’s. And I just hate to see that.

Holly: Me too. So we’re just about out of time, but where can our listeners go if they want to learn more about you?

Natalie: My website is My last name is k o e h l e r. So it’s kind of a complicated, but that’s where people go to book mediation and make payments and find out more about my background, and has all my contact information on there and would love to meet some of your listeners if they’re ever out this way. I enjoy doing big city mediation, so to speak, also. So I’m always thrilled when I get to work with Dallas and Fort Worth lawyers. And it brings just a different perspective to my practice, and we can all get better and learn from each other. And so it’s, it’s, I like to meet as many lawyers around Texas as I have the opportunity to.

Holly: That sounds great. So thank you so much for joining us today. For our listeners if you enjoyed this podcast, take a second to leave us a review and subscribe so you can enjoy future episodes.

Voiceover: That Texas Family Law Insiders podcast is sponsored by the Draper Law firm. We help people navigate divorce and child custody cases and handle family law appellate matters. For more information, visit our website at

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