For many people, getting a divorce brings up images that we have seen in movies and television shows. I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about as far as the plot of these shows: a rich husband, a young wife, an ex-wife who feels disregarded in favor of a new bride, and several children who are irresponsible and whose lives are in disarray. Sometimes hilarity ensues. Often we walk away from the movie or television show, shaking our heads in frustration at the state of that family. This could never be one of our families.
The reality is that no family is perfect. As much as we laugh or shake our heads in frustration at what we watch on a screen related to divorce, our own lives can sometimes mirror those sad, funny, or frustrating scenes. Life is just that way sometimes. In reality, we want our families to always work well as a unit and for us to be able to act as a team. However, sometimes those goals and aspirations come barreling headfirst into a wall. What we don’t know is if the problems in our family life and marriages can be salvaged. Sometimes they can be. Unfortunately, not every marital issue can be sorted out due to patience, time, and communication.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are starting a divorce, you should not feel alone. It can feel like you are all by yourself in terms of your problem. Nobody knows precisely what you are going through or how you can get out of the mess she finds herself in. What is going to happen with your children? Is your relationship with your kids ever going to be the same after the divorce is over? How about your retirement savings and other property? How can you salvage those and not have something horrendous happen to your annual property after having gone through a divorce?
That brings me to another point I’d like to discuss regarding divorces. It would help if you were careful about the advice that you take on from those around you. Now, I am not saying that you should ignore the good-natured advice provided to you by others. There will undoubtedly be friends and family members who seek to provide you with information to help you in your divorce. However, there will also be people who fall into the misery loves company category. Anne wants nothing more than to share with you their horror stories about divorce for no apparent reason.
These are the folks that you need to be wary of. Receiving information about divorce is never a bad thing, necessarily. Communication is vital to divorce or any other life event you are going through for the first time. You can use the information to provide you with context, prepare you for upcoming events, and even two provide you with advantages should the situation arise. However, Be careful of the sources that you take in your information from. That does not mean you should be rude or dismissive towards people. However, the bases you take and rely upon for information need to be trustworthy and experienced. Unfortunately, most of the people we come across in our daily lives who have gone through a divorce have the perspective of what they have gone through. These folks do not know your circumstances, your life, or probably even you or your spouse all that well.
This is where I would like to discuss an important subject related to Texas divorces with you all today. Those scenes from television shows and movies that we have discussed so far today are essential in the sense that they provide us with much of the context and information that we encounter regarding divorce. Unless we have a close family member or friend who has gone through a divorce, then movies and television shows are probably the most likely way that we have two come across information about divorce. The trouble that we run into is that these depictions are done for entertainment rather than to provide substantive knowledge. With that said, we can still understand and utile eyes the resource of this blog to better ourselves and prepare for any eventuality.
Before we discuss mediation in earnest, I would like to give you a brief overview of what a divorce looks like in Texas. We will begin by discussing the initial documents you and your spouse filed, a short timeline of events, and finally, end up by discussing mediation. The better you can be prepared For each stage of a divorce, the better you will be. If you have any questions about the material discussed in today’s blog post, I recommend that you contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We would love to set up a free-of-charge consultation for you with one of our experienced attorneys. We offer consultations at both of our office locations and via video.
An overview of Texas divorce cases
When it comes to getting a divorce, the process generally works the same for everyone; while your family may have specific circumstances and factors that others do not, the general approach you all will file is the same. A divorce in Texas begins with an original divorce petition. The original petition is a short and straightforward document that names you as the filing party, your spouse as the responding party, and any children under the age of 18. Within the original divorce petition, you will also ask the judge for any relief you are seeking.
Your original divorce petition Must be served upon your spouse. Service is the essential way To provide notice to Your spouse about the divorce that has been filed. You cannot simply point the divorce petition and then expect your spouse to know about it without having provided notice to them through service. If you file the divorce and never serve your spouse, you can expect nothing to happen in the case. Likely, you will receive a notice in the mail or electronically telling you that your lawsuit will be dismissed unless you proceed with service in the following stages of a case. Many courts will only allow your chance to sit, but no action hasn’t been taken for six months before holding a hearing to dismiss the case.
The method that is employed by most people, and is preferred by the court, when it comes to service is personal service. This means that you will hire A private process server or have a sheriff or constable pick the paperwork up from the courthouse And then locate your spouse indirectly hand it to them. You would inform the process server or constable of where your spouse is likely to be at what time. Typically, people try to avoid serving their spouse at work or another public place where it can be an embarrassment.
There are alternative ways to serve notice to your spouse about the divorce for those of you wondering. It does not ruin your chances of getting a divorce if you cannot serve Your spouse personally. For instance, if you show a judge that you have been diligent in attempting to help your spouse personally but have been unsuccessful in doing so, you can petition the court for alternative means of service. Posting notice of the divorce in a magazine or newspaper, posting the divorce on the courthouse steps, or even utilizing the mail to do so and posting the divorce on their last known address are methods that could be employed in your divorce if you are not able to serve your spouse personally.
Bear in mind, however, that there are risks to alternative means of service. For instance, it is much easier for your spouse to obtain a new trial if they legitimately do not come across your notice that was served in a newspaper or a magazine. The state of Texas wants to provide every person an opportunity to participate in their divorce or any other civil case for that matter. For this reason, a court will look favorably upon an explanation that your spouse legitimately did not know the divorce was going on. If you get a default judgment in your divorce, then beware that that default judgment can come back to you in the form of a new trial being granted if service was obtained using an alternative method.
Once your spouse is served with the divorce papers, they have 20 days 2 file an answer to your original petition for divorce. A solution is a legal pleading that will confirm receipt of the petition and allege any defense set forth to the claims in your petition for divorce. The answer, just like the petition, does not have to be a long document. Frequently, if you are the party that needs to respond to a divorce petition, you could file a counter-petition wherein you can allege specific claims and ask for relief of your own.
Once the original divorce petition has been filed an answer has been received, the divorce can begin. You can go in a couple of different directions at this stage of the case. Either you or your spouse will likely contact the other to set up mediation. This mediation will occur before a temporary orders hearing period; temporary orders are the initial phase of a divorce case. It will allow your family to begin to transition into living in separate households, sharing custody of your children, and generally speaking, adjusting to life different from your spouse. Not only that, it will allow both sides to prepare your case for either a trial or for final orders mediation.
There are two different types of mediation: temporary orders mediation in final orders mediation. Mediation involves you and your attorney selecting a mediator with the opposing attorney and your spouse. The purpose of mediation is to determine whether or not you and your spouse can settle your issues outside of court rather than attend either a temporary orders hearing or a trial. You can look at going to court as a place of last resort for your case. However, most family courts in Texas require that you and your spouse attempt to get your chance at least one time before attending either hey temporary orders hearing or trial.
This is because the courts in Texas are always overburdened with family cases and because mediation is so effective at settling claims and helping people reach equitable conclusions. The burdening of the court system with family law cases is not something that really should enter your mind, but it is a reality for the family court judges. I have seen family court judges to order people to attend mediation multiple times before allowing them to set foot in court for a temporary order hearing or trial. I have had judges in some instances that I have worked on go so far as to stop temporary orders hearing midway and ask us to step into the hallway to see if we can work on any settlement agreement informally. This is the extent to which many family court judges will go to allow cases with more significant needs to be heard.
Additionally, nobody knows you and your spouse in the circumstances better than either of you. No matter how long a temporary orders hearing or trial lasts, you all are much more likely to negotiate your way to a worthwhile settlement, and you are to get there in a trial. The trial can be seen as a place of last resort for you and your family. There is nothing wrong with having your case heard before a judge but do not expect it to result in the best possible outcome for your family. Usually, that occurs in mediation.
In most cases, when you are ten temporary orders mediation, you will be tasked with determining temporary issues related to child custody, conservatorships, child support, and the basics of running separate households during a divorce. You will not be asked to do anything with your family home to decide whether to sell it or divide Community property. Temporary orders mediation is intended to help you and your spouse gets through your case’s initial stages and avoid the need for an interim order hearing.
With that being said, you need to be aware that what ends up happening in a temporary orders hearing or mediation usually looks a lot like what final orders do. This means that you should not go easy in temporary orders mediation with the thought that you can correct any mistakes for negotiating more aggressively for final orders. Once orders are created for temporary orders, you are more likely to see mirrored for last orders. This means you need to be just as prepared for temporary orders mediation as you do for final orders mediation.
Temporary orders mediation results require you to come in with a household budget showing your income and outgo. If you are requesting quick spousal support for the duration of your divorce, you need to be justified in your asking for it. For example, if you expect to be paid temporary spousal support, you need to have a solid basis for having asked for it. Next, you need to be sure that your spouse has the money in their budget to pay you this temporary support. Again, you may be the most deserving person in the world when it comes to quick spousal support, but if your spouse does not have the money in the budget to pay it to you, then there is little use in asking.
For final orders, you should be prepared to come in with a proposed Community property division, including how you see your Community property states being divided and any other considerations retirement savings and your home. Preparing for temporary orders mediation should give you some perspective on how to prepare better for final orders mediation. Working with an experienced family law attorney is best to prepare for both last orders and temporary orders mediation.
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 how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. I appreciate your interest in our law office. We hope that you will join us tomorrow as we continue to share helpful and relevant information about the world of Texas family law.