How can you speed up the divorce process a great deal in Texas? The best answer to this question is to work with your spouse before filing for divorce to settle any outstanding issues that you will need to sort through. Everybody wants a quick and easy divorce. That's what I hear most frequently during the free-of-charge consultations that the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, offers. Who can blame them? Divorce is not fun, and divorces can be expensive. Why waste time and resources on them if you do not have to?
Not all divorces can be quick and easy, but many can be relatively quick and easy. In today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, we will discuss the factors that can lead to your divorce getting wrapped up sooner rather than later. While the vast majority of issues you may face in your divorce cannot be gone over in detail here, I would like to touch on those circumstances and factors that could lead you towards a resolution in short order for your divorce case.
Time is relative in the world of divorce.
Different people think of "quick" in additional terms. Some people think of quick as a microwave- if it's not ready in five minutes, then it's not quick. Other people think of short like a sundial- everything takes a little bit of time, after all. In Texas, the fastest most people can get divorced sixty days. That means within sixty days of filing your divorce petition, and you would be able to present a Final Decree of Divorce to your judge signed by you and your spouse.
You are beginning your divorce by filing a Petition for Divorce.
The very first document that would be filed in your divorce case is called a Petition for Divorce. This document states some essential information to your court: who you are, who your spouse is if you have any children and the basis on which your divorce is founded. If you assert that your divorce is being filed due to abandonment, abuse, or infidelity, then go ahead and say so but know that these types of divorces are not going to be the "quick and easy" ones that I described in the opening to this blog post.
Ultimately that is ok. You don't need a quick and easy divorce. You need a divorce that will tie up any loose ends in the marriage, divide community property fairly, and will leave you and your children in good positions to move on with the rest of your lives. If it can be done quickly, that's great. If not, then that's ok too.
Back to the topic of the Divorce Petition. You will file the petition in the county where you and your spouse reside. This is the same county for most folks, but the longer I do this job, the more I find out that spouses don't always live in the same county- not to mention the same home. You have the option of filing the petition in whatever county you live in or the county that your spouse lives in. Most folks will decide to file in their home county to have "home field advantages" like less travel time and things of that nature.
Waiting is the most challenging part (of divorce)
If you have filed for divorce, then get ready to…wait. Your divorce petition will either have to be picked up by a process server or constable and physically served upon your spouse, or your spouse will agree to sign a waiver of service. This waiver of service does just that- waives their right to be served formally with the divorce paperwork. Note that if you believe that your divorce is uncontested- i.e., there are no outstanding issues to negotiate upon- this is the better/faster option to choose.
Once your spouse is served or signs the service waiver, you and your spouse will likely have to wait sixty days to go to the judge with your signed and completed final decree of divorce. The reason for this is because the state of Texas (through the Texas Family Code) mandates that you wait at least sixty days to make sure that a divorce is something that you want to do. If not, you have some time to cool off and make other plans. I have had clients on occasion tell me out of the blue that they have reconciled with their spouses. This is always great news to hear as nobody wants another person to get a divorce. But, I can tell you that this does not happen frequently.
Keep in mind that if your spouse has been convicted of a crime related to family violence against you or a member of your home, this sixty-day waiting period can be waived by the judge. However, you must file a motion to waive the sixty-day waiting period and then have a hearing on the subject after providing your spouse at least three days of notice before the hearing date. I can honestly say that I have never had a divorce case wrapped up in less than sixty days.
61 days is a best-case scenario
Another thing to remember is that sixty-one days is a best-case scenario for most people awaiting a divorce. Not every case will be completed at this time. The vast majority of patients will take longer than sixty-one days. It doesn't have to be a long, long time after that, but to get everything was done that needs to get done in just two months is more complicated than it looks. Consider the fact that you and your spouse must have agreed upon every single issue in your divorce before an attorney drafting your final orders that encompasses all those agreements.
I mentioned earlier that if you and your spouse are on speaking terms and in agreement on the issues related to your divorce that a waiver of service may be signed by him or and returned to you. If this is the case, you should file that waiver of benefit so that when you come to court, later on, the judge can see that this step has been completed. If not, your divorce will not be finalized on the day you attend court.
Not all spouses are ok with signing a waiver of service. On some level, other than saving time, you should wonder what is in it for your spouse? Unless they want to get the divorce over with- at the neglect of any issue related to divorce- they should consider their options before signing the waiver. If you are in a position where your spouse has emailed or mailed a release of service to you, then do not sign it unless you have spoken to an attorney first.
Requirements of the final decree of divorce
If you have children, then orders regarding custody and child support will need to be included and accounted for in your final decree of divorce. Rights and duties (otherwise known as conservatorship) will need to be divided between you and your spouse.
The other main issue of a divorce case deals with property. Any community property (property acquired during your marriage, for the most part) will need to be divided between you and your spouse as well.
Once you have an order containing provisions for all these subjects, you or your spouse will need to attend a short, uncontested hearing with your judge. If you have hired an attorney, they will go with you and ask you a series of yes/no questions that tell the judge that you have reviewed the document you are asking them to sign and that it includes orders regarding the children/property issues we just discussed.
Overall, it is possible to get a quick divorce, but it is always advisable to have legal representation. Hiring an attorney will not slow your process down but may help you avoid problems and allow your case to proceed without undue delay.
To learn more about the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, don't hesitate to get in touch with us today. We offer free consultations with a licensed family law attorney six days a week.