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Family Law Cases in Texas: Temporary Orders and the Final Orders Stage of a Divorce

Family Law Cases in Texas: Temporary Orders and the Final Orders Stage of a Divorce

In Texas, the journey through a divorce involves critical stages, notably the Temporary Orders and the Final Orders stage. This article provides a clear overview of these stages in Texas family law cases, helping you unlock a better understanding of the process and what to expect as you move forward.

Temporary and Final Orders: The 2 Stages of Divorce Cases

I like to think of divorce cases as having two stages. You could argue that there are far more, but I will stick with my general theory that there are two for this blog post. The first is the Temporary Orders phase of a divorce. Once you have filed for divorce, served the Original Petition upon your spouse, and they have responded with their Answer, your divorce is fully underway.

During this stage of Temporary Orders, you and your spouse attempt to temporarily negotiate the terms of your divorce. Who is going to pay what bills? What is the visitation schedule going to be like regarding your children? Which spouse is going to remain in the home? These are the type of questions that will be considered.

At the initial stage of your case, a Temporary Restraining Order will likely be filed along with your Original Petition for Divorce, restraining your and your spouse’s behavior in certain areas. This would include transferring or destroying property relevant to your divorce, unenrolling your children from school, or wholly removing them from their campuses physically. Basic things like not harassing your spouse are also covered in the Temporary Restraining Order.

The Temporary Restraining Order lasts for fourteen days after the judge has signed it. The restraining order becomes a temporary injunction once you and your spouse have either agreed to terms on temporary orders or have attended a contested court hearing to do so.

Temporary Orders Hearing

As I alluded to a moment ago, you and your spouse will have an opportunity to settle your case regarding temporary orders by attending mediation or informal settlement negotiations between you and your attorneys. Usually, parties can resolve their issues and not proceed to court. If your case ends up being the exception that proves this rule, then a Temporary Orders hearing will be scheduled, and the judge will make rulings on any contested matter.

Do not let the word “hearing” fool you, however. A temporary orders hearing is a mini-trial where both you and your spouse will present evidence, question witnesses (including each other), and make arguments to the judge about how they should rule on the contested issues of your case. Once all of the evidence has been presented, the judge will decide.

Either your attorney or your spouse’s attorney will take those decisions from the judge and draft temporary orders for you and your spouse to sign and submit to the judge for his signature.

Discovery- What is it?

Family Law Cases in Texas: Temporary Orders and the Final Orders Stage of a Divorce

Once you are through with the temporary orders stage of your divorce, then you will quickly transition into a quieter time, most likely. There will not be another court date set for many months unless someone violates the temporary orders or other circumstances arise.

Many attorneys will send out discovery requests to their opposing counsel during the stage of your case where you are preparing to negotiate on final orders. Discovery is tool attorneys use to investigate the other party in a case.

The investigation aims to get responses to questions and have documents provided in response to specific requests. Each side will use this information to help them learn how to proceed in negotiations and how to approach a trial if necessary.

Mediating a Case for Final Orders

Navigating the path of divorce in Texas involves key stages, with mediation playing a crucial role in both Temporary and Final Orders. If you’ve experienced mediation for temporary orders, you’ll find the process for final orders familiar.

Mediation offers a chance for you and your spouse to engage an independent family law attorney, aiming to resolve lingering issues. The mediator, chosen by mutual agreement, orchestrates discussions between you, your spouse, and respective attorneys, all set in the mediator’s office.

During mediation day, you and your lawyer will occupy one room, while your spouse and their attorney will be in another. The mediator shuttles between both, relaying offers, countering proposals, and striving to resolve disputes. An experienced mediator, often a family law attorney with insights into your judge’s tendencies, can be a strategic advantage. They provide guidance on how your arguments might fare in court, helping you weigh the merits of taking issues before the judge.

The ultimate aim of mediation is reaching a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA), which captures all agreements made. Signed by all parties, their attorneys, and the mediator, the MSA is a pivotal document. If mediation resolves all issues, your case avoids trial.

However, unresolved matters, even a single one, mean heading to trial for final orders. This critical stage in Texas family law underscores the importance of mediation in shaping the course of your divorce journey.

The Trial in a Contested Divorce

As we stated a moment ago, you and your spouse will bring any unresolved issues, whether informal or from mediation, before your judge for a final trial. The same general concepts and rules from the temporary orders hearing apply to the trial.

However, the issues in the trial differ. You will address bigger picture items such as the fate of your home, debt payment responsibilities after the marriage, ordering visitation with your children, and dividing your community estate. These are the relevant issues in the final trial.

In most cases, your trial will be in front of a judge, but either you or your spouse can pay a fee to have a jury hear your case instead.

The Prove-up Hearing and the Conclusion of Your Divorce

Once you and your spouse settle your case in mediation or attend a trial, you will draft the orders into a Final Decree of Divorce. Both sides and their attorneys agree to and sign the final version of this document.

The petitioner, the party who filed for divorce, goes to court for a brief hearing in front of the judge, known as a prove-up hearing, after signing the decree. When the judge calls the uncontested docket, usually first thing in the morning, you appear to inform the judge that you have resolved your case and the order is ready for their signature.

Family Law Cases in Texas: Temporary Orders and the Final Orders Stage of a Divorce

At the prove-up hearing, your attorney will ask you about 10-15 questions regarding the order you want the judge to sign. You will mostly answer “Yes” to these questions.

The judge then reviews your divorce decree. They may approve and sign the order, request specific revisions from your attorney, or issue additional orders as appropriate for your case. Once the judge approves and signs your Divorce Decree, you and your spouse are officially divorced.

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

As our series on family law cases continues, we will look at conservatorship and what it means in your divorce or child custody case. It is the central component to any issues related to your children.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about this subject or any other in family law, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations to meet with one of our licensed family law attorneys to have your questions and concerns addressed.

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  1. Texas Family Law Courts: Temporary Orders in a Divorce case
  2. Temporary Orders and Temporary Restraining Orders in Texas
  3. Getting Ready for a Hearing On Temporary Custody Orders
  4. Preparing for a Temporary Orders Hearing in Texas, Part Seven
  5. What to expect in a Temporary Orders hearing in Texas
  6. Texas Family Law Courts: Beginning the Divorce Process
  7. Texas Family Law Courts: Divorce essentials
  8. Texas Family Law Courts: Mediation and Divorce Essentials
  9. Texas Family Law Courts: What to Expect
  10. Harris County, Texas Family Law Court – 245TH Judicial District Local Rules
  11. 247TH Judicial District Local Rules
  12. 246TH Judicial District Local Rules
  13. Harris County, Texas Family Law Court – 308TH Judicial District Local Rules
  14. Harris County, Texas Family Law Court – 257TH Judicial District Local Rules
  15. Why is Separate Property Important and How to Keep it Separate in a Texas Divorce?

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.

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