A divorce in Texas: From temporary orders onward

In yesterday’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC we covered the initial phases of a divorce in Texas and what you can expect within them. Today we will pick up where we left off by discussing more about the temporary orders phase.

Temporary orders within your Texas divorce

Generally speaking, the temporary orders phase of your divorce occurs after your Petition has been filed and your spouse has had an opportunity to file an Answer. Many counties in Texas require that you and your spouse seek mediation prior to going to see a judge about establishing temporary orders. What exactly is covered in a typical temporary order in Texas?

Temporary orders will ensure that you and your spouse have some ground rules in the areas of your marital residence- as in, who will get to stay in the house and who has to leave. Additionally, temporary orders will decide which one of you will pay what bill and who will be the primary conservator (temporarily at least) of your children. The primary conservator is allowed to determine the primary residence of the kids.

Whichever spouse is not the primary conservator will be awarded visitation time on a regular basis in most situations. Finally, the use of and access to the property will be decided in temporary orders. The actual division of property will occur prior to or during a trial.

Temporary orders tell you what you can and cannot do

It may seem awkward or unnatural to submit yourself to another person’s rules when you are an adult, but essential that is exactly what you are doing when you are involved in a divorce. Your personal theories of how an adult should conduct him or herself and your behaviors become less important and instead you are expected to follow a fairly rigid set of rules set forth by a judge. However, keep in mind that this stage is preparing you for life after your divorce when you will be living under your final decree of divorce until your children reach the age of 18 and all property issues are sorted out.

Basic injunctions are put into place during the temporary orders phase of your case that restricts your ability to do things like harm your spouse physically, harm their property, waste community resources like income or go into debt. As I mentioned a moment ago you and your spouse will also become acclimated to seeing your children based on the orders contained in your parenting plan. Temporary child support will likely be paid from whichever spouse does not live with the children to the primary conservator.

Information gathering during temporary orders: Discovery

During the sometimes long period of time in between the filing of your divorce and the conclusion of your case, your attorney and that of your spouse will be assisting each of you in collecting evidence that may be relevant to your case.

The ultimate purpose of collecting this potential evidence is for use in a trial. However, keep in mind that most cases do not go all the way to a trial but instead settle in mediation. What you are collecting this evidence for is to give both you and your spouse equal knowledge of the facts and circumstances of your case. This will allow for more coherent settlement negotiations and in a perfect world will decrease the possibility of your divorce ending up before a judge.

Your spouse and you will likely exchange requests for discovery during this phase of your case. Information, documents, and statements from each of you regarding your children, your property, your finances and a host of other subjects will be hashed out in this section.

If digging through the computer and file cabinets for documents sounds tedious- it’s because it is. You can get a jump on this process by collecting tax returns, bank and retirement statements, etc. before your spouse even asks you for them. Some of the information that the other side seeks will be protected and does not have to be provided. Your attorney will make the decision on what you should respond to in these discovery requests and what does not need to be answered.

My general advice when it comes to responding to discovery requests is to be as helpful and thorough as possible. Don’t think of this as a “partner” activity from high school where you can do 20% of the work while your attorney can do the other 80%. I suppose that your attorney can do 80% of the work, but it’s going to take him or her more time to do it and you will be billed for every minute that your attorney spends asking you questions about documents or responses that you have provided. If you can be thorough and timely in your collecting documents for him or her you can manage costs easier and get past this stage faster.

Even if you do not get asked by your attorney to turn in more documents or better clarify responses to questions asked of you, the opposing attorney will look at incomplete answers or requests for documents as you trying to hide the ball. You will likely be asked to turn in more complete information one time by the opposing attorney before you are asked to attend a court hearing where the attorney will tell the judge that you and your attorney need to be compelled (forced) to turn over relevant information that has not been turned in yet.

Inventory and Appraisement

A document that you are required to file during your divorce is known as an Inventory and Appraisement. This form will list all property that you and your spouse own (separate and community) and the debts that you both are responsible for.

You will be asked to state an estimate of the value of the property and the amount of any debt. The document is treated as an affidavit- a sworn statement was taken under oath. This is required because if you and your spouse do need to seek a trial, this inventory will be entered into evidence and utilized by the judge to decide a host of issues regarding property division, child support, and spousal maintenance.

Settling on final orders

Once you and your spouse have submitted responses to requests for discovery, the next phase of your case is to attend mediation for final orders. Usually, you and your spouse will have been exchanging settlement offers on a host of issues associated with your children and your property throughout the case. Mediation is an opportunity to negotiate via a professional mediator who can assist you both in coming up with creative solutions to the issues that you all are facing.

Mediation is on the whole very effective and results in the settlement I would estimate is close to 85% of divorces. A half day session (four hours) can help you and your spouse hammer out agreements on a divorce that can save you all time and money.

We will begin tomorrow’s blog with a more thorough examination of what final orders mediation actually is, but the spirit of the day should be compromised. Neither you nor your spouse will likely walk out of mediation feeling like you got everything the way you want it in your final orders. That’s ok. In reality- that’s the sign of a good agreement.

In settling your case and avoiding a trial you are putting the interests of your family first before your own desires for “justice” or “fairness”. As I tell clients all the time: you can search the rest of your life for fairness when it comes to your relationship with your spouse and you will likely never get it.

Mediation, Settling for Final Orders and trial- tomorrow’s blog post topics

Stick with us tomorrow as we begin to discuss the final stages of a divorce case in Texas. In the meantime, if you have any questions for the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC please do not hesitate to contact us today. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with one of our licensed family law attorneys.


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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Preparing for a Temporary Orders Hearing in Texas, Part Seven
  2. Preparing for a Temporary Orders Hearing in Texas, Part Six
  3. Preparing for a Temporary Orders Hearing in Texas, Part Five
  4. Preparing for a Temporary Orders Hearing in Texas, Part Four
  5. Preparing for a Temporary Orders Hearing in Texas, Part Three
  6. Preparing for a Temporary Orders Hearing in Texas, Part One
  7. Preparing for a Temporary Orders Hearing in Texas, Part Two
  8. Do I need Temporary Orders in my Texas Divorce?
  9. Temporary Orders and Temporary Restraining Orders in Texas
  10. Getting Ready for a Hearing On Temporary Custody Orders
  11. The Divorce Temporary Orders Guide
  12. A Rollercoaster Ride of Emotions: Navigating Temporary and Emergency Custody Orders in Texas
  13. What are Temporary Restraining Orders and Temporary Orders In The Context of a Texas Divorce?

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