Before a trial and possibly before a temporary order hearing in a divorce, either a court will order you and your spouse to attend mediation, or you both may choose to attend it voluntarily. In Texas, mediation serves as a formal opportunity for you and your spouse to negotiate over unresolved issues in your case, aiming for a settlement.
The Role of a Mediator
You and your spouse select a mediator. On the day of mediation, you both will be in separate rooms at the mediator’s office. The mediator facilitates communication between you and your spouse by relaying settlement offers, similar to a ping pong ball bouncing between two players. If there is a possibility for agreement, the mediator will strive to help you both find common ground.
Although mediation doesn’t always lead to a partial or complete settlement agreement, it often results in settling your issues. A Mediated Settlement Agreement, which includes all agreed-upon aspects of your case, is signed by both parties and the mediator.
The Petitioner’s attorney will take the M.S.A. and draft temporary orders based on those agreements. By settling your case in mediation, you and your spouse will be able to avoid having to go before your judge for a contested temporary orders hearing or trial. On the other hand, if mediation does not resolve every outstanding issue in your case, you and your spouse will proceed to a problem.
Final Decree of Divorce
After reaching a settlement agreement or completing a trial, you and your spouse must draft, agree to sign, and submit a Final Decree of Divorce for the judge’s signature. This Decree resolves all outstanding issues in your case, translating the agreements or judge’s orders into written form. It serves as a comprehensive list of terms that you and your spouse must adhere to moving forward.
The Decree will include decisions about dividing your community estate, establishing child custody, support, visitation orders, and addressing any other relevant issues in your case.
If you adopted your spouse’s last name at marriage, the Final Decree of Divorce enables you to revert to your maiden name, if you choose. However, it does not permit changing to a completely new name. The Final Decree is a complex, detailed document, contrasting with the Original Petition for Divorce, which is typically only a few pages long.
Mediation: Parenting Courses
In Texas, when you first become a parent, the state doesn’t require you to take a parenting class, attend training, or prove your readiness for the immense responsibility of parenthood. Such a mandate, if introduced, would likely be considered odd and potentially unconstitutional.
However, if you engage with the state’s processes during a divorce, the state may require you to complete a parenting course. To determine if this applies to you, check the clerk’s website for your county. You must complete this course before finalizing your divorce.
Upon completing the course, you will receive a certificate of completion either by email or in person. You must file this certificate with the court clerk. The content of these courses typically focuses on assisting children in adjusting to life post-divorce and improving co-parenting strategies with your ex-spouse.
Mediation in Texas: The Prove-up Hearing
Once your divorce has either settled or been to final trial, had a Final Decree of Divorce drafted and signed off on by all parties and their attorneys and submitted that Decree to the judge, the Petitioner, and their attorney would appear before the judge for a short, uncontested hearing known as a Prove-Up.
The Prove-Up hearing presents your completed divorce and approved final order to the judge.
Your attorney will guide you through a set of questions during the hearing, highlighting key aspects of your case. If you have children, the judge will confirm their support and health insurance provisions after the divorce. The hearing will also include a demonstration of how your community estate is divided for community property concerns.
Most courts schedule these hearings early in the morning, prior to the regular docket. Some judges require you to schedule an appointment in advance and check a list of documents for correct filing. Once the judge approves your Final Decree of Divorce, you and your spouse will be legally divorced on that day. Typically, the judge will sign your Decree by that afternoon or evening.
The End of Your Divorce
After leaving the courthouse on the day of your divorce, you can take pride in having navigated one of life’s most challenging processes. Regardless of whether your divorce was uncontested or fraught with disputes, remember it marks a new beginning, offering opportunities to improve your and your children’s lives.
Be sure to obtain a copy of the Final Decree of Divorce from your attorney. Your attorney might provide a certified copy by mail. Keep this document safe for future reference, especially if issues arise regarding your spouse’s adherence to its terms.
Promptly contact your attorney to retrieve any documents you provided and consider requesting a copy of your entire file. You have a right to these documents, and your attorney should comply within a reasonable timeframe, ensuring you have all necessary paperwork.
If you plan to remarry soon after your divorce, remember that you must wait at least thirty days from the signing of your Decree. This waiting period allows for any challenges to the divorce terms or requests for a new trial. After thirty days, barring any complications, you and your ex-spouse are free to remarry if you choose.
Questions on divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
Thank you for your time and attention as we walked with you through the different family law cases in Texas- most notably divorces. If you have questions for us, please do not hesitate to contact our office today. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, stand ready to assist you and your family. A free-of-charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is only a phone call away.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s essential to speak with one of our Houston, TX, Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, 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.
Bryan Fagan, a native of Atascocita, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney inspired by John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.” He is the first lawyer in his family, which includes two adopted brothers. Bryan’s commitment to family is personal and professional; he cared for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s while completing his degree and attended the South Texas College of Law at night.
Married with three children, Bryan’s personal experiences enrich his understanding of family dynamics, which is central to his legal practice. He specializes in family law, offering innovative and efficient legal services. A certified member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Bryan is part of an elite group of legal professionals committed to ongoing education and high-level expertise.
His legal practice covers divorce, custody disputes, property disputes, adoption, paternity, and mediation. Bryan is also experienced in drafting marital property agreements. He leads a team dedicated to complex family law cases and protecting families from false CPS allegations.
Based in Houston, Bryan is active in the Houston Family Law Sector of the Houston Bar Association and various family law groups in Texas. His deep understanding of family values and his professional dedication make him a compassionate advocate for families navigating Texas family law.