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Temporary Orders Can Impact Your Divorce in Ways That Are More Than Just Temporary

During the middle phase of your divorce proceedings, negotiation with your spouse for both temporary and final orders becomes crucial. Filing for divorce doesn’t automatically entail contentious courtroom battles over issues like child custody and property division. Indeed, the majority of divorce cases in Texas are settled long before they reach trial. Understanding this process allows couples to engage in productive negotiations, striving to reach mutually agreeable temporary and final orders. However, clarity regarding when temporary orders go into effect is essential. This is to ensure smooth transitions and effective legal representation throughout the divorce process.

Temporary orders: a crucial phase in divorce proceedings

Temporary Orders are the first phase in your divorce case that allows you and your spouse to put your differences aside and come to an agreement on the issues of your case. This does not mean that you have to “back down” on the most important things to you in your case. You do not need to forget about the past that led to your divorce being filed in the first place. All it means is that you and your spouse will need to come to understand that nobody is in a better position than either of you to hammer out a plan for leading the following years of your life.

At the outset of your divorce, you, your spouse, or the court may request the establishment of a hearing for temporary orders. This hearing for temporary orders would allow you and your spouse to present arguments to a judge in order so that they can issue decisions that will impact your case and your life. Determining custody arrangements, occupancy of the family residence, child support obligations, and responsibility for household expenses are all critical aspects of the divorce process.

You can look at these decisions as to the ground rules for your divorce. Not only will you have your marching orders regarding your children and your bills, but you will be notified of what you can and cannot do about other areas of your life. For instance, you will likely not be able to spend money on items beyond essentials for your family and your legal representation. This will prevent you or your spouse from wasting marital property while the divorce is ongoing.

Mediation and its impact on temporary orders

Before reaching a courtroom for a contested hearing, you and your spouse will attend mediation to see if an agreement can be achieved. Mediation is a process whereby you and your spouse choose (with the help of your attorneys) an independent family law attorney to meet with to discuss your case. The mediator will have you and your spouse in different rooms at their office. They will then walk back and forth between your rooms to communicate settlement offers and hopefully help you all reach an agreement.

The mediator will compile the terms of the settlement agreement into a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) if a settlement is reached. One of your attorneys will then process the MSA, converting it into temporary orders that all parties will sign. Subsequently, the document will be submitted to the judge for their signature. These orders carry the same weight as those determined by a judge. Temporary orders become effective immediately upon signing and remain in force until the final decrees of your case are signed.

A Temporary Orders Hearing

If you and your spouse are unable to reach a settlement in mediation, your case will proceed to a temporary order hearing before a judge. This hearing mirrors a trial in every aspect. Evidence is presented, testimony is heard, and the judge makes decisions for your family. The decisions made in the hearing are binding upon you and your spouse until the end of your cases, when the final divorce decree goes into effect.

You are setting your case for trial.

A trial is the final hearing in your case. It will occur at the earliest 61 days after you or your spouse are served with an original divorce petition. You and your spouse might reach an agreement on the courthouse steps, thus settling your case. If that happens, the final hearing will amount to you and your spouse going on the record with the judge and reciting your settlement agreement.

The Final Decree of Divorce

The Final Decree of Divorce is the final order in a divorce case. This order will resolve all relevant issues and provide instructions for you and your spouse to follow after finalizing your divorce. Your final decree of divorce can address matters such as community property, child support, child custody, visitation, and spousal support.

Taking parenting courses to complete your divorce

Harris County is among those counties in our area that require that you attend a parenting course before the end of your divorce if you have a child. You will not be able to finalize your case and hear your proof hearing without both parents having certificates of completion for this class filed beforehand.

The prove-up hearing- the end of the road for your case.

Once you’ve obtained a signed and finalized final decree of divorce, the conclusion of your case draws near. Contact your court clerk to confirm if any additional documents need submission before your uncontested prove-up hearing with the judge. Ensure all necessary paperwork is filed in advance and bring copies for the judge’s review. In Harris County, it’s advisable to file everything with the court at least a day ahead to avoid potential delays in document approval. Waiting until the late afternoon before your court date may risk insufficient processing time by the clerk for your hearing the following day.

Typically, an uncontested docket is scheduled in the early morning or early afternoon before the regular docket is called in that court. Some courts allow you to sign up online the day before your hearing to schedule a time to appear on the uncontested docket. Since most courts are not technologically advanced in this regard, you should anticipate visiting the clerk’s office to check in and have your name added to a list. The judge will then call your name, and you and your attorney will stand up and go before the judge.

A prove-up hearing is an opportunity for the judge to confirm that your divorce decree covers everything that could be relevant to your case. There are a series of yes and no questions that you will be required to answer. Your attorney will likely go over the questions with you beforehand. Once you have covered all the areas necessary to protect the divorce decree, the judge will grant your divorce. Your divorce is now over with.

If you do not hire an attorney, here is some advice.

I advise people who talk to our law office that it is almost always a good idea to hire an attorney to represent you in your divorce. You don’t fill your cavities, do you? Do you even change your car oil? Then why would you want to get a divorce without the aid of someone who works in that field? Saving money is a valid concern, but a divorce is a relatively inexpensive procedure considering how costly the mistakes can be down the road.

However, if you do not want to hire an attorney, you should know the following bits of information as you begin your divorce case:

  1. Always have copies of the documents filed by you and your spouse. It is an excellent idea to do so because you can better keep track of the updates in your case and know exactly what is at issue.
  2. While you’re at it, have a specific place for all documents associated with your case. Do not mix up court documents with insurance paperwork or school tuition bills. You probably have a lot of paperwork at home relevant to your divorce, but only a few of them will be from the divorce itself. A file cabinet probably isn’t necessary for a relatively simple divorce. A binder or file folder should work just fine.
  3. When your divorce is over, you should ask the court clerk to obtain a certified copy of your final divorce decree. This is the document that you will need to transfer accounts from your spouse to you (or vice versa), and it may be necessary to change your name if you are a woman who has requested that to be done.

Final thoughts on Texas divorces

I can’t tell you how many people come to talk to our attorneys without first thinking through the long-term effects. Divorcing your spouse is a serious matter and something that should not be entered into without a great deal of consideration beforehand. Have you attempted to reconcile with your spouse? Have you sat down and talked through the issues that may be pushing you towards divorce? If not, it may be wise to take a step back and reconsider.

If you are a person of faith, your church or another house of worship likely has counseling available for you. So long as your spouse is willing to attend counseling or therapy, it would help if you tried to do so. Go until it is apparent that those sessions are no longer productive. If your spouse is not willing to attend therapy, that is a sign that your marriage is headed towards a divorce.

When hiring a divorce attorney, thorough research is vital. Meet with multiple attorneys to ensure you find the right fit. Remember, you’re interviewing them, so they should educate you on your case’s issues clearly. If you’re confused by their explanations, consider hiring someone else. Ultimately, your divorce is your responsibility, and you must understand the decisions’ impact on your life. Finding the right attorney is crucial for a successful outcome.

Conclusion

Navigating the middle phase of a divorce in Texas involves crucial negotiations for both temporary and final orders. It dispels the misconception of divorce solely entailing contentious courtroom battles. By understanding the significance of this phase and when temporary orders go into effect, couples can engage in productive negotiations, aiming for mutually agreeable resolutions. This proactive approach fosters smoother transitions and ensures effective legal representation, ultimately streamlining the divorce process and minimizing unnecessary conflict.

Questions about divorce in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material that we covered in today’s blog, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week here in our office. These consultations are an excellent opportunity to meet with an attorney and to learn about your case. We offer feedback on your specific situation and allow you to ask questions about anything you would like to know.

It is a privilege to represent clients in our area, and we do so with a great deal of pride. Our attorneys work in every courthouse in southeast Texas and have been doing so for years. Thank you for your consideration and for spending some time with us today.

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At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

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