What occurs between filing and finalizing a divorce case in Texas?
One of the biggest concerns spouses have after filing for divorce is, “What happens now?” It is vital for you to fully understand all the stages of the divorce process so that there won’t be surprises during the pendency of your case. Knowledge and preparation are key to positive outcomes for you and your family.
Divorce Temporary Orders
Once the divorce is filed it is time to take stock for their situation. Things to consider include:
- How community expenses are going to paid
- Who will have use of and possession of specific community property such as vehicles and the marital residence
- Who will be the primary parent in possession of the children
- What sort of visitation the children will have with the parents
- The amount of temporary child support
- Which parent will be responsible for providing health insurance
- Temporary spousal support
- Whether one spouse will pay for the interim attorney fees for the other spouse, and
- Whether temporary injunctions be put in place
It may be necessary if the parties cannot agree on the above issue to ask the court for orders to determine how the parties’ relationship with the children and finances will be handled while the divorce is ongoing.
These court orders are called “temporary orders” and can include temporary provisions ordering:
- the payment of temporary alimony
- the payment of Temporary child support
- Temporary residency restriction for the children;
- Temporary conservatorship/custody of the children;
- Temporary medical support;
- Temporary possession of and access to the children (possession schedule);
- which spouse pays specific debts during the divorce process
- Temporary exclusive use of motor vehicles;
- Temporary payment of expenses related to the household, including the mortgage and utilities;
- Temporary payment of insurance premiums, including auto insurance, health insurance, life insurance, and homeowner’s insurance;
- Temporary exclusive use of personal property and furnishings;
- Payment of attorney fees
- Temporary exclusive use of the marital residence and;
- who has the use of other community property, such as vehicles
Maintaining the Status Quo
Often the court does not want to make any major changes to the parties lives by its Orders. This might mean the court prevent a party from substantially changing accounts and policies so that the community estate and the parties are protected financially.
An example of this would be the Court Ordering a party to maintain health insurance on his or her spouse and the children.
Another example of maintaining the status quo would be the Court Ordering that the parties have the exclusive use of the vehicle they normally drive. This does not mean they will get that vehicle on final orders
Are Temporary Orders Required?
Temporary Orders are not mandatory. Some spouses can work together informally to take care of issues related to property, bills, and children, child support, payment of debts, and possible temporary spousal support.
Is a Court Hearing Required to Obtain Temporary Orders?
It is not always necessary to go to Court to obtain Temporary Orders sometimes it is possible to negotiate formal temporary orders outside of court. Sometimes this done over the phone and then orders are drafted. Sometimes this is done through mediation prior to a Temporary Orders Hearing.
When Negotiations Fail
If Temporary Orders cannot be worked out informally and a dispute arises, a party can request a hearing before a judge to obtain temporary orders. These Temporary Orders will remain in place until the final divorce decree is entered or the court makes additional orders.
A temporary orders hearing is often like a mini-trial or a preview of what the final trial will look like. The attorneys present arguments, examine witnesses, and present evidence before the judge. This gives the Judge an idea of the temporary issues at hand that need to be decided.
These Orders are temporary and generally designed to maintain the parties’ status quo until the case is finalized. However, tactical advantages can be gained during this stage with respect to final child custody or property division. You can also see in what direction a Judge is leaning on the particular issues in the case.
Necessary Financial Information for a Temporary Orders Hearing
During a Temporary Orders hearing it is important to bring certain financial documents to show the Court so that the Judge use that information to help makes financial orders that will last during the pendency of the divorce.
Typically, the documents needed include:
- your three most recent pay stubs
- your prior year’s tax return
- W-2’s from the prior tax year
- Any 1099’s
- All documents pertaining to any life, casualty, liability, and health insurance;
- documentation as to the cost the family’s health insurance as well as documentation as to the cost of only the children’s monthly health insurance amount.
Failure to provide these necessary documents can have a negative impact on you during the pendency of the divorce.
Preparing for your Temporary Orders Hearing
It is extremely important that you discuss all facts that could be relevant to your case with your lawyer.
You do not want your divorce lawyer should not find out bad facts for the first time at the Temporary Orders Hearing. By discussing negative information prior to the hearing your lawyer can prepare for these facts such as:
- your past criminal history
- Drug use
- Your new boyfriend or girlfriend that your ex does not approve of
- CPS history
- and any other “skeletons in your closet”
Discussing these issues with your divorce lawyer before hearing may help your attorney to try to minimize the impact of these “skeletons” on your case.
If there are witnesses who would be helpful to your case, you will need to provide your attorney with their name and contact information as early as possible.
This will allow your lawyer enough time to issue any necessary subpoenas to secure the attendance of witnesses for your hearing.
You should let your witnesses know that your lawyer will be contacting them about their possible testimony in your case.
What to Wear
In most cases a Temporary Order hearing will be the first time the Judge in your case will have a chance to observe you.
The Judge will be deciding issues regarding you, your spouse, and your children. It is important to present yourself in a good light.
Below are some suggestions for preparing yourself for Court:
- Make sure your hair is clean and combed;
- Your facial hair should be groomed, neat, and clean;
- Wear slacks and a shirt with a collar if you own them;
- Do not wear a tank top or sleeveless shirt;
- Do not wear shorts;
- If you wear a skirt, make sure that it is not too short;
- Do not wear clothing that exposes your underwear;
- Do not wear flip-flops;
- All shirts need to cover your stomach;
- Do not show too much skin in court;
- Do not wear a hat or cap to court;
- Do not chew gum in the courtroom; and
- Turn off your cell phone prior to entering the courtroom
Determining Temporary Custody of the Children?
There are several factors a Judge considers when deciding who should be given the temporary exclusive right to establish the primary residence of the child.
If both parents are fit and there has not been any child abuse, harm or neglect, a Judge is going to be looking to see which parent has been the primary caretaker of the child. Somethings a Judge considers when making this determination include:
- Who fed your child;
- Who bathes your child;
- Who gets the child ready for school;
- Who takes the child to school or daycare;
- Who picks up your child from school or daycare;
- Who takes the child to and from doctors’ appointments;
- Who attends school activities and parent-teacher conferences;
- Who participated in the child’s extracurricular activities; and
- Who helped with the child’s homework.
Visitation During Temporary Orders
If parents can agree they can establish any visitation schedule they want that that fits their needs and those of the children.
If the parents are unable to agree to a possession schedule, the presumption in Texas is that a court should order what is called the “standard possession order.”
In Texas, the standard possession schedule is based on a suggested order in the Family Code. There is a presumption that a standard possession schedule in all cases involving a child over the age of three is in the “best interest of the child.”
If the divorcing parties live within 100 miles of each other, the standard possession schedule provides for possession by the parent with whom the children do not primarily reside as follows:
- beginning at 6:00 p.m. or when school is dismissed on the first, third, and fifth weekends of each month and
- ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday or when school resumes the following Monday;
- Every Thursdays during the school year each week from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (or from the time school lets out until the time school resumes on the following day);
- Alternating Thanksgiving and spring break holidays; part of the Christmas break, depending on the year, using
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Temporary Orders and Temporary Restraining Orders in Texas
- Getting Ready for a Hearing On Temporary Custody Orders
- Can I Sue My Ex for Retroactive or Back Child Support in Texas?
- Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
- Texas Child Support Appeals
- In Texas are Child Support and Visitation Connected?
- Why Ignoring Child Support Obligations is a Bad Idea in Texas
- Can I get child support and custody of my kids in Texas if we were never married?
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- 6 Mistakes that can Destroy Your Texas Divorce Case
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.