Nobody wants to go through a divorce. You may find yourself wanting to separate yourself from your spouse due to arguments, anger, violence, lies, and any number of other immoral and intolerable offenses, but nobody wants to have to go through months of a divorce case to do so. A magic wand that could be waved that results in the divorce would be much preferable. However, that is not reality, and the law in Texas has specific requirements that must be met to get a divorce.
Just because a divorce is necessary should not mean that it will have to take an exceptionally long time for it to be completed. This should come as a welcome relief if the length of the process you are about to undergo has been a concern of yours heading into the case.
Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will center around the subject of how to speed up your divorce case as much as possible. While you do not want to miss anything important, you also do not want to delay the process any amount more than necessary. I will note that some of you reading this blog will not have the short and sweet version of a divorce that I will lay out in this blog post. That’s ok. You want a divorce done well that protects your and your children’s rights- not a quick divorce that ends up hurting you in the long run.
Keep in mind that “speed up” is a relative term.
The fastest you can likely get a divorce in Texas is sixty days. From the date you file your Original Petition for Divorce to the date the judge can grant the divorce, you are looking at a two-month time frame. The reason for this waiting period is to give you and your spouse an amount of time to truly consider whether or not a divorce is right for you. You may be surprised to learn that I have had many clients who have used this period to reconsider divorce and attempt a reconciliation. I hope the same will be possible for you, but statistically (from my experience), this is unlikely.
Your judge can decide to waive this sixty-day waiting period if they believe your situation merits doing so. If your spouse has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence against you or someone in your household, for example, the judge may choose to waive the sixty-day wait. Again, this does not often happen (thankfully), and therefore you should fully expect to wait your sixty days before getting a divorce in Texas.
The purpose of this blog is to help you to get your case done in as close to sixty-one days as possible. You may not hit the nail right on the head, but I believe that with planning and some forethought, you can get it taken care of with minimal will delay.
What needs to be in place for you to get a divorce
At a bare minimum, you and your spouse must have two things in place to get a divorce: proof that one of you provided sufficient notice to the other that a divorce has been filed in Texas, and there must be a written agreement that shows a settlement of the issues related to your case. The written agreement is typically called a Final Decree of Divorce. It contains provisions related to a division of your marital estate as well as a breakdown of the rights, duties, visitation times, and possession details associated with your children, if you have any.
Notice and Service of your Original Petition for Divorce
Notifying your spouse of your Divorce Petition having been filed does not mean driving to her house and tapping her on the shoulder to let her know that you have filed for divorce. I mean, you must provide her with legal notice of the divorce. This is an entirely different subject altogether.
Legal notice means either having your spouse waive their right to be personally served with the divorce papers or going through the process of actually legally serving them. A waiver of citation allows you not to hire a private process server or constable to serve your spouse with your divorce petition formally. A waiver provides sufficient proof to the judge that your spouse has been legally notified of your divorce. Keep in mind that your waiver must include provisions outlined in the Texas Family Code and must be signed before a notary to be considered legally valid.
When a waiver is not an option, you must notify your spouse. Usually, waivers work when your divorce is relatively “open and shut.” If you and your spouse are not on speaking terms or have vast areas of disagreement in one area or another of your case, then you can bet that a waiver is not an option for you all.
As I mentioned earlier, the typical method for serving your spouse notices your divorce is via a process server or constable. These folks will pick up your divorce paperwork at the courthouse, go out to your spouse’s home or business, and physically hand it to them. Once this is completed, your process server will complete the paperwork stating the date/time/location of service and return it to the court. This proof of citation will be filed for your case, proving that your spouse has indeed been served with notice of this divorce case.
Your spouse is told within the paperwork that they receive that there is a limit of twenty days (and a few extra in most cases) to file a response or Answer to the Original Petition for Divorce. If they fail to do so, then a default judgment can be taken against him or them. A default judgment is a finalized judgment from the court that can be obtained without additional notification to your spouse.
Look at your circumstances to determine if a sixty-day divorce (or something close) is possible.
Once you and your spouse are both aware of the divorce, then you can move ahead to determine whether or not a relatively quick divorce is possible. You can make this determination by reviewing the circumstances and issues that appear in your case. If you all agree on virtually all the issues of your case, then you may be looking at a quick divorce. However, if you have a lot of unresolved issues, then a longer, more complicated divorce is likely necessary.
From my experience, issues related to children tend to slow down a divorce- with good cause. Your children are the most critical aspect of your life, and it will be no different in your divorce. If you and your spouse, for example, are not in agreement on which one of you will be caring for the children on a primary basis, this is a disagreement essential to any divorce case. Child custody, child support, the division of rights and duties, and other issues are inherent in a divorce case when minor children are involved. If you and your spouse are nowhere close to an agreement on these issues, then you have no realistic chance at a sixty-day divorce.
More information on how to obtain an efficient and quick divorce in tomorrow’s blog post
To learn more about how you and your spouse can avoid a protracted divorce, please come back to our blog tomorrow to read more. If you have any immediate questions, please consider addressing those to the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with one of our licensed family law attorneys. Scheduling a consultation is easy, fast and can help you solve and think through many issues associated with your case.