Divorce Process in Texas
If you have decided, whether alone or with your spouse, that you need to start a divorce in Texas, you should understand the steps before the divorce is completed.
As you are probably aware, divorce involves the court system, meaning either a county court or district court, depending on where you live. NOTE: You must have lived in Texas for at least 6 months and in the county where you are filing for at least 3 months, or you are not eligible to obtain a divorce in Texas.
The case starts with filing a petition, which is a formal document that at its heart is asking for the things that happen in a divorce, i.e. dividing property, determining how the children (if any) will be taken care of, and ultimately, pronouncing the ending of the marriage.
Once filed, your spouse will either have to be served with the petition, formally, (by a constable or a private process server) or he/she will need to file a waiver that says that he/she waives the right to that formal requirement.
Once service is done, what will happen next? Is there a need for temporary orders? Does someone need to leave the marital residence? Who is going to primarily care for children and how will that be accomplished? Who is going to hold on to what pieces of property for the time being? Who is going to pay for what until the divorce is final? These and many other questions will be resolved, either formally at court, or through formal or informal agreements.
To complete the final divorce, both sides will need to understand what assets and debts are part of the marital estate, and both will have a say in how they are divided. Often, an attorney will recommend that you use processes of discovery (production requests, formal questions, depositions…) to determine information that otherwise you wouldn't know.
Both sides will also have a say in how to work around the issues of visitation, child care, child support, insurance coverage, etc… Discovery will also be used to get more information about what each side thinks about the issues involving children, as well as to get more facts about each sides' best and worst arguments on why caring for the children should be done in a certain way.
If the parties can agree on both property and children issues, that agreement is the basis for the final document in the case, a divorce decree. If not, anticipate that the court will require you to mediate your case—i.e. attend a relatively informal conference with a neutral mediator to try to assist you in reaching agreements.
If neither informal attempts to reach an agreement nor mediating your case results in an agreement, eventually your divorce case will be called to trial—in most instances, you should expect that your trial date would be at least 5-6 months after you originally filed, though often the first trial date might be closer to one year, depending on the county and the court.
As you can see from this brief and ‘bare bones' review, the process is not an easy one. Please feel free to call my office to discuss how I can help you through this difficult experience.