Once your divorce has been filed and notice of the divorce has been served upon your spouse, they will need to file an Answer to your Divorce Petition.
This Answer is due approximately twenty days from the day they are served with notice of your divorce suit. Assuming that they do file an Answer before the deadline has passed, your case will enter a second phase that I commonly refer to as "temporary orders."
A temporary restraining order is an order from the court that lays down some interim rules for you and your spouse to follow during the divorce. Think of these as the "do's and don'ts" of your case and your life for however long your divorce ultimately takes.
Don't fret too much, however. The don'ts are things like:
- not committing family violence against your spouse
- harassment against your spouse
- not paying bills that need to be paid (utilities, mortgage, etc.).
As for your children you:
- ought not to take them out of school and
- hide them from your spouse
That would be called a violation of your temporary restraining order, and the judge would be none too pleased to learn of such behavior.
You can get a temporary restraining order installed without providing notice first to your spouse. You filed a request for a temporary restraining order with your Petition for Divorce, and you outline all the things you would like to have temporarily restrained.
The judge can review all the items you've listed and strikethrough those that they do not believe should be included.
The catch to a temporary restraining order is that it is, wait for it, quick. Since your spouse has not had an opportunity to argue anything regarding this TRO, the order will only last for about two weeks. You must then go to court and have a full-fledged hearing on the matter to get the TRO to turn into legitimate temporary orders.
How long does it take to get divorced in Texas?
While we're in the different stages of divorce, it would make sense to ask how long it takes to get divorced. Right then, I imagined you asking me that through your computer. I'll answer you with the lawyer's favorite response: "It depends." At a minimum, your divorce will last sixty-one days. This is because from the day your divorce is filed until the day you go to court with an order signed by you and your spouse, sixty days must have first elapsed.
Otherwise, there is a relatively wide range of lengths for divorce cases to take on. If you and your spouse agree on all or most of your divorce issues, then you may be able to be divorced in close to sixty days. All it takes is an agreement on every point of your case, the drafting of a final order, and then you and your spouse signing that last order.
On the other hand, if you and your spouse are not in agreement on any issues, then you may have to at the very least attend mediation to see if a mediator can help you and your spouse settle the outstanding issues. If mediation is not successful, you and your spouse will head to court to have a full-fledged hearing with the judge if you are in the temporary orders phase or a trial if you have moved on to the end of your case.
In between temporary orders and trial, you and your spouse will likely exchange multiple settlement offers, financial statements, and other documents that are crucial to understanding both sides of a case. This can take between six months and longer if a trial is necessary.
Getting to trial- how is a date selected?
Most courts have docket control orders that lay out the dates for many of the case settings for your divorce.
Temporary orders hearing date, the date that discovery must be submitted by, the date mediation must be completed, and dates for a pre-trial hearing and a trial date are often included in the docket control order. This lets both sides know exactly what dates they have to be aware of and spurs people to negotiate. As a friend of mine often says: deadlines spur action.
The question everyone wants to know: when is your divorce official
Ultimately you are not filing for divorce to take a final stand against your spouse or to cause them to pull their hair out due to frustration. You're filing for a divorce to move on from your spouse and begin a new chapter in your life.
With that said, we've gone through the stages of your divorce but have not talked about when your divorce can be finalized.
Your divorce will be final when all issues of your case:
- children and
Specifically- they have been either settled before trial or dealt with by an order from the judge. The terms of your settlement or rendition of the judge's orders must be laid out in a document called the final Decree of divorce. Typically the Petitioner's attorney will draft the Decree and then send it to the Respondent for their review.
Once both sides agree on how the Decree will look, the parties will sign along with their attorneys. The Petitioner will file the Decree with the court and appear for a short hearing in front of the judge. The judge will want to make sure all issues have been disposed of in the hearing called a "prove-up hearing." You are officially divorced once the judge approves and signs your order.
Dividing property in a divorce- the subject of tomorrow's blog post
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, appreciates your time discussing the issue of family law courts and divorce with us. Come back tomorrow to read more about the divorce, specifically how your property will be divided in a potential divorce case.
Questions about this subject and any other family law can be directed to our office. A free-of-charge consultation is only a phone call away.
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Other Articles you may be interested in regarding Houston Court Local Rules:
- Temporary Orders and Temporary Restraining Orders in Texas
- Getting Ready for a Hearing On Temporary Custody Orders
- Preparing for a Temporary Orders Hearing in Texas, Part Seven
- What to expect in a Temporary Orders hearing in Texas
- Texas Family Law Courts: Beginning the Divorce Process
- Texas Family Law Courts: Divorce essentials
- Texas Family Law Courts: Mediation and Divorce Essentials
- Texas Family Law Courts: What to Expect
- Harris County, Texas Family Law Court - 245TH Judicial District Local Rules
- 247TH Judicial District Local Rules
- 246TH Judicial District Local Rules
- Harris County, Texas Family Law Court - 308TH Judicial District Local Rules
- Harris County, Texas Family Law Court - 257TH Judicial District Local Rules
- Why is Separate Property Important and How to Keep it Separate in a Texas Divorce?
- Can grandparents keep child from father?