The question of how temporary orders work in Texas is one that the attorneys with the law office of Brian Fagan receive with some regularity. When it comes to a Texas family law case, there are two phases. The first phase is the temporary orders phase, in the second phase is the final orders phase. Both have unique elements that will impact your life both on a short- and long-term basis. I wanted to take some time today to discuss the temporary order space and what it means to your case. Many people are unaware of what goes into a family law case, and I thought you needed to know in advance to best prepare along with your attorney.
For starters, the temporary orders phase is exactly what you would think: a brief time will allow you and your spouse to adjust to life living in separate households. If you have children, the kids will become better adapted to sharing their time with you and your spouse in different homes. Visitation orders, child support, and temporary orders regarding spousal support are also frequently included in temporary orders. Rather than give you a 30,000-foot overview of the process, I would like to take you into a temporary orders phase and help you understand what you can expect to occur in your case.
The beginning stages of a Texas divorce
To begin with, the party who initiates the divorce will file an original petition for divorce in the County where either you, your spouse, or both of you are residents. To qualify as a county resident, the filing party or their spouse must be residents of Texas for the past six months and residents of that County for the past 90 days. If neither one of these things is true, then that County will not have jurisdiction over your case and may not be able to issue any rulings regarding the divorce. You can prove residency, if it becomes necessary, by providing utility statements, lease contracts, or other documents to verify how long you have lived in a particular location.
You should also consider where it is most advantageous for you to file if that is your position. For instance, if your spouse has moved out of the home already, then you may consider filing your divorce in your home County sooner rather than later. This is because if your spouse has lived away from home long enough, they may be able to file in their new County of residence. This could be harmful to your case, given the need to hire a local family law attorney impossibly traveled to hearings, mediation dates, and other things. If you are in a position to do so, it would be wise to be ahead of the game and think strategically in this regard.
Next, once you have filed for divorce, it will be your responsibility to notify the lawsuit to your spouse. Much at the time, this involves hiring a private process server or constable to pick the documents up from the courthouse and physically serve them up on your spouse. The original petition for divorce, citation, a notice of any hearings, and other documents will be served. The process server or constable will note the specific date, time, and location of service and file that documentation with the courthouse.
With these steps completed, your case will have truly begun in earnest. Your spouse then has roughly 20 days to file an answer to your original petition for divorce. This answer is a legal document that responds to the allegations contained in the initial divorce petition. Typically, both documents can be reasonably boilerplate in their language, but the paper may be much longer if you assert specific fault grounds for divorce. Fault grounds for divorce include adultery, abuse, abandonment, marital fraud, as well as confinement to a mental hospital. In decades past, a person who would file for divorce had to assert a specific fault ground for that divorce.
However, that is no longer the case, and now all a person has to do to gain a divorce in Texas is be married and assert in their original petition for divorce that there is no chance at reconciliation due to discord or conflict in personalities. As I'm sure you would expect, this has led to a dramatic increase in the number of divorces in our state and across the country. The fact is that it only takes one spouse to move for divorce for that divorce to happen. Stories you may have heard from other people involving the inability to get a divorce for various reasons are overstated mainly or exaggerated. If you want to get a divorce, file for divorce, and then follow the procedural steps, you will get a divorce.
There is a 60-day waiting period to get a divorce from the date your divorce is filed in the courthouse. There is a delay to allow both you and your spouse ample opportunity to reconcile and seek counseling for the problems you are undergoing in your marriage. While I cannot say that I have personally seen many people able to negotiate their marriages in this amount of time, I will tell you that there are spouses who have attempted to reconcile and put their divorce on hold or stopped the process altogether.
You may be wondering why there is a 60-day waiting period at all. After all, if two people want to get a divorce, why not let them? Well, as we have already established, it only takes one person to get a divorce in Texas. If you are the spouse holding out hope for reconciliation, then a 60 day waiting period may be just what the doctor ordered. You may be able to convince your spouse to at least pause the divorce in hopes of reaching an amicable resolution to the marital problems you have been having. This will be good for you and your family.
This is also a reality that the state of Texas has realized. Married people, generally speaking, make more money, participate in our society more as far as voting, live longer, and are healthier. All it takes is a simple Google search to reveal the truths of this statement. The topic of another blog post is what relationship marriage has to increase life expectancy and increased participation in society. However, there does seem to be a connection between the institution of marriage and people generally doing better in their daily lives across the board.
This doesn't even begin to discuss the topic of raising a child either in separate households or as a married unit in one home. Even if your divorce were to occur, the state of Texas encourages both parents to have an active and involved role in the parenting of their child. For this reason, joint custody and the payment of child support are almost to be expected in your case. This allows both parents, no matter who has primary custody of the child, they have some skin in the game and a great deal of responsibility in making decisions for your child.
The irony of a divorce is that most people believe that they are doing their best to put distance between themselves and their spouse at the beginning of a case. In many ways, this is true, given that you will physically be moving from them, and your marriage relationship will be ended after your case. However, the most important bond that you and your spouse share, namely that of being parents to your children, will only be just beginning to take shape after your divorce. Your ability to co-parent together effectively will determine the course that your child's life takes in the happiness of your family unit.
Negotiating with your spouse after an Answer is filed
Once the original divorce petition is filed and an answer is filed in response, your divorce will truly have begun. Statistically, both you and your spouse will have hired attorneys to represent you in this divorce case. The hiring of attorneys does not necessarily mean that your case will become very caustic and combative. While I can understand why you hold this opinion due to the prevalence of movies and television shows that give the idea that every divorce is a battle, the reality is that most divorce cases settle before a trial. For today's blog posts, I can also tell you that most divorces settle in temporary orders before a hearing as well.
The first opportunity you will have to negotiate with your spouse in the divorce case will be four temporary orders. Temporary orders were issued by a court that lay the foundation of the divorce as far as how you and your spouse should conduct yourselves for the duration of the case. Depending on the circumstances of your case, temporary orders could include instructions on how to divide up Visitation with your children, how child support should be paid, how the household bills should be paid, where each of you will live, and whether or not temporary spousal support should be paid.
These are just a few of the topics that temporary orders cover. How I explain it to clients is that temporary orders seek to give you and your spouse marching orders for the duration of your divorce so that you all can begin to acclimate two living in separate households and parenting your children together. Most importantly, it allows your child Ren to adjust to living in two homes and sharing their time with both you and your spouse. Many parents find that their children are more flexible and better adapt to changes than they may expect. This is a good thing, given the sheer number of changes that go into effect at the beginning of a divorce.
Temporary orders about child custody
The most significant determination that will be made regarding child custody in your divorce or the temporary workers face is which parent will be named the primary conservator of children. The primary conservator of the children has the right to determine the primary residence of the child. This means that you will be able to pick where your child lives on a full-time basis. Along with this right, the primary Conservator children will typically have the right to perceived child support from the non-primary Conservator. Otherwise, rights and duties in a divorce generally are split relatively down the middle.
Whichever parent is not named, this primary conservator will have the right to have visitation time with your kids. Under a standard possession order, the parent with Visitation rights will possess the children on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of each month along with fairly even holiday Visitation. Suppose your divorce extends into the summer months. In that case, the parent who has Visitation rights will typically possess the children almost exclusively during July, with another extended period of Visitation going to the primary conservator during August or June.
Child support is the other major component of custody issues determined during the temporary orders you face in your case. Child support is primarily formulated for most families. This means that the Child Support guidelines outlined in the Texas family code will be followed almost to AT your income or circumstances is reasonable cause to deviate One Direction or another. Child support is typically paid from you to your spouse automatically from your paycheck through a wage withholding order that goes through the attorney general's office.
Temporary spousal support in the payment of bills during the divorce
Depending on your circumstances, it may be necessary for you to either pay or receive spousal support temporarily. A temporary special license allows one spouse to make sure he or she keeps her head above water during the case and does not fall behind in their bills, ability to buy food, pay rent, pay for the other necessities of life. Temporary spousal support does not mean that your spouse will continue living that lifestyle they have become accustomed to even though you no longer live in the same household. Temporary spousal support is intended to ensure that a spouse who earns less money can keep their head above water when your income is not going directly towards paying all their bills.
Speaking of bills, responsibility for paying the mortgage, home insurance, car insurance, doctors’ accounts for the kids, and the other assorted bills in your life will also be divided up in the temporary orders phase of your divorce. Most typically, you and your spouse will attend mediation wherein responsibility for these bills will be divided by agreement between you and your spouse. If it becomes necessary, you all may need to attend a temporary orders hearing, or evidence will be submitted to a judge on all of these issues, and testimony will be taken. A judge will then make determinations on the subject matter we have discussed thus far, and those will be the temporary orders for the duration of your case.
Preparing for the temporary orders phase of your divorce
From the outset of your divorce, it is essential to have a firm grasp of preparing for success in your case. From the get-go, I would begin to create a household budget for yourself based on your income. From there, you will be able to determine whether or not you will be in a position to remain in the house where you are living currently or if a move will be necessary. If your spouse can pay you temporary spousal support, you can make this determination and then begin to build a case with your attorney as to why it is necessary.
Collecting financial documents, beginning to build a budget for yourself, and then creating a rough draft of a custody agreement based on your family's specific circumstances are all great places to start when it comes to preparing for temporary orders, mediation, or hearing. No matter what direction your case takes, it is wise to prepare early and often for any wide range of eventual outcomes.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the services that can be provided to you as a client of our office.
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