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Final steps of a divorce in Texas

A divorce can feel like it takes forever to finish. If you have ever heard the saying time is relative, then you know exactly what I am talking about. Even if the divorce has only taken a few months it can feel like the whole process has dragged on for much longer. This is evidenced by the desire of many people to speed up the process and quickly resolve the divorce at all costs. It is important to note that the beginning of a divorce is just as important as the end when it comes to the overall direction a case takes. Do not let up on the gas, so to speak, even if you have reached the end stages of a divorce.

I think this is especially true if you are a person going through a divorce who does not have an attorney. The reason being is that your attorney will be able to help you manage the process but also understand how close to the finish line you are. Think about someone who has run a marathon. That person would probably be disappointed if he or she lunged for the finish line 100 meters before the finish of the race rather than 1 meter. That is what you should try to avoid in your Case. Namely, being able to understand where you are in your case and what is expected of you at that stage.

If you do decide to move forward with the divorce case on your own then you have likely done so after making some mistakes throughout the life of your case and hopefully, you have now learned from them. Did you miss a filing deadline at the beginning? Fail to prepare adequately for mediation? Did you discover that drafting legal documents isn’t as easy as the online message boards would have you believe? If so then you can join the ranks of many people who have gone through a divorce without representation. The truth is that for most people it is much more difficult to manage your divorce without an attorney than with one.

There are a handful of steps that make up the final steps of a divorce. We will walk through each of those steps today and talk to you about what to expect and what is expected of you by the court. Understanding these expectations as well as what you need to have filed and prepared can ensure that you do not miss any filing deadlines. Finishing the case strongly will ensure that you can maintain your goals and accomplish whatever objectives you have set out for yourself. 

Final orders mediation

When it comes to preparing for the end of a divorce, many people hope that final orders mediation will be the nail in the coffin for their divorce. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the process of mediation, it is a process whereby you and your spouse will be able to mutually select a third-party mediator to oversee negotiations detailing the end of your divorce case on issues regarding property and child conservatorship.

Mediation is an attempt for you and your spouse to find a middle ground on the issues that have been impacting your life and divorce. It is assumed that to this point your spouse and you have had some trouble seeing eye to eye on many of these important subjects. Mediation puts you in a position where you have time and opportunity to work with one another on these issues to see if you can negotiate your way through to a settlement.

The mediator acts like a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth in between your room and that of your spouse. A mediator can communicate settlement offers, provide their interpretation of the circumstances, and will then allow you to decide on accepting certain offers or declining to do so. Big Nova steak one of the most important parts of mediation is to go into the process as prepared as possible. To not do so would be a major mistake as you will not have a better opportunity to discuss these issues with your spouse before a final trial period, for this reason, being prepared for mediation is incredibly important.

You need to be able to consider what the most important issues are in your case and what you can do to prepare to negotiate through those issues. For most divorce cases, those related to children and property are among the most important. or issues with your children, you should consider the possession schedule that you have created since the temporary orders phase of your case. if the position schedule that you and your spouse have been operating under has been working well then you may intend to continue that for your post-divorce lives. However, if some aspect of the schedule has not worked well for your children or you then this would be the time to voice your opinion and negotiate for a change.

You should also be prepared to either show what your net monthly income is if you expect to be the parent who pays child support or come prepared to negotiate on child support if you are the parent who will be receiving child support. Hopefully to that point, you have requested discovery of your spouse’s income to be able to verify what he or she makes. Child support is a subject that can be modified after divorce comes to an end, but it is better to get the subject right in the first place. if you are going to argue that the needs of your child require you to ask for an increased amount of child support then you should have your reasoning for this well thought out and provided to your spouse.

If you are negotiating over conservatorships questions in mediation, specifically for which parent will become the primary conservator of the children after the divorce then you should understand that, but you all had agreed to in temporary orders mediation or had handed down by a judge in a temporary orders hearing is likely what your final orders will look like. If your spouse was named as a primary conservator for the children as a result of a temporary order hearing in that arrangement has worked well for your children then you should not expect that a court would necessarily change that arrangement unless it has been shown that you or your spouse have been incapable of filling that obligation to this point.

On the other side of things, is a subject matter related to Community property division. Texas is a Community property state. This means that all property in existence at the time of your divorce is presumed to be owned equally by you and your spouse. This does not mean that the Community property is owned 50% by you and 50% by your spouse. For either, all property owned but you and your spouse will be owned fully by you and your spouse with a few exceptions. The notable exceptions are property owned by either of you from before your marriage or property that you came to begin owning during your marriage due to inheritance or gift.

From the very beginning of your divorce, you can begin to prepare for the negotiation on how Community property will be divided in mediation. To begin with, you can inventory your property by going around your home and taking photographs of each room, closet, and drawer so that you know about the physical property you hold. In addition, you can begin to access any online accounts for investments, retirement savings, and bank accounts. To inventory this property and then estimate its value would be the main method of preparing for mediation. 

going into mediation with multiple plans in place as far as your case is concerned is a wise idea. There is no sense in arriving at mediation with only one method of accomplishing your goals. Rather, if you think there are multiple ways to arrange a division of your community estate then you should go into that process with a plan in mind. Being intentional about how you negotiate is probably the most important way to avoid making mistakes and to keep yourself focused on avoiding one of the other final steps in a divorce, a trial.

Trial

To begin with, we should be specific to note that a trial is not necessarily going to be a step of your particular divorce case. Relatively few divorces involve a trial. A trial would occur only if you and your spouse are unable to settle inside of mediation or outside of mediation the outstanding issues of your case. Any issues that are not settled in mediation would be taken to a trial and put before a family court judge. The judge would be able to if your rulings are based upon the evidence submitted at trial.

Needless to say, there is a significant amount of risk attached to a divorce trial period for one, if you do not have an attorney then you are heading into a trial without a great deal of knowledge on how the case can proceed or what the outcomes maybe. Preparing for a trial is not necessarily like preparing to do a book report or other assignment for school. Rather, it is an independent process that requires a certain degree of knowledge and skill to do so diligently. Instead of being able to settle your case outside of court with your spouse you are now relying upon a family court judge to make decisions for you, your spouse, and your family. There is risk associated with this process And you may be better off negotiating with your spouse even if you do not necessarily see eye to eye on every issue of your case.

However, if you are not able to settle your case with your spouse then a trial will conclude the divorce case for the most part. It is the opinion of the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan that hiring an attorney is worth it if only to have a lawyer available to assist you at trial. Being able to introduce evidence, make objections, and possibly respond to objections in addition to presenting evidence or all skills that inexperienced family law attorneys should possess. While you may have studied many aspects of a divorce case, it is unlikely that you will be able to prepare adequately for your case regarding this particular subject. As a result, hiring an attorney to help you in this stage of your case can be the difference between a good and a bad outcome.

Drafting a final decree of divorce

Once you have either attended mediation or a trial your case may feel like it is over with period however, there are still some steps that you need to manage successfully before you can truly say that your case has come to an end. Once you have court orders or a mediated settlement agreement you will need to be able to take those orders and the mediated settlement agreement and then draft a final decree of divorce. In a typical scenario involving parties in their attorneys, it is the petitioner and their lawyer who will be in charge of drafting the final decree of divorce. You all will need to work together to ensure that the final decree of divorce encapsulates the nature of your case very well. 

For example, you will not be able to simply copy down the mediated settlement agreement within the final decree of divorce. Rather, you will need to take your settlement agreement and then utilize language in the final orders that a judge can sign off on. The more specific the language you can use and the fewer questions there are regarding your language the better off all parties will be. The last thing you want to do is put yourself in a position where there is ambiguous language in your final decree of divorce. The ambiguous language that could be taken to mean multiple different things is a recipe for disaster. One of the reasons why is that a family court cannot enforce ambiguous orders. Therefore, you should aim to make sure that your final decree of divorce is as specific and clear as humanly possible.

Once you and your spouse have gotten to the point where you feel comfortable with the language included in your final decree of divorce you both can sign the document. Once you have signed the final decree of divorce you should contact the court about any additional steps that are needed for the judge to review & the document. In most cases, this will be a short hearing before the judge known as a prove-up hearing.

The proof appearing and completing your divorce

The final step of edited works in Texas would be to attend a prove-up hearing before the family court judge. A prove-up hearing is more or less a formality. This means that this is an uncontested hearing that you would attend if you and your spouse can reach an agreement on the language utilized in your final decree of divorce. The prove-up hearing would be most likely early in the morning on the uncontested docket for the judge. You can contact the court clerk to determine when this docket is held and any necessary documents that must be brought with you to court. A wage withholding order for child support, qualified domestic relations order regarding splitting up a retirement fund as well as any other paperwork relevant to your specific divorce should be filed with the court in advance with copies available while you are in the courtroom.

On the other hand, if you and your spouse are unable to arrive at mutually agreed upon language for your final decree of divorce then you will need to file a motion with the court to enter your final decree. At which point, you and your spouse would be able to attend a contested hearing with the judge to discuss any issues you may have with the language of your court order. You can make an argument to the judge as to why your language is preferable and see what he or she has to say on the matter. However, by this stage of the case, it is more likely that you will have to approve up hearing.

Once the judge reviews your final decree of divorce you are nearly divorced. The judge would ask you simple questions about the contents of the final decree of divorce and then agree to sign the document with any changes he or she has made. From there, you should request certified copies of the document from the clerk of your court for your records. 

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 consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of divorce our child custody case.

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