While not every divorce can be done in sixty, seventy or eighty days, some can. For this to be possible you and your spouse will need to understand how this can be done and if your circumstances will allow for this to occur. If you have not done so already I recommend going back to read through yesterday’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC so you can learn how a divorce can be achieved in relatively quickly fashion. We will pick up where we left off in yesterday’s post by detailing more essential steps to getting the quick divorce that you desire.
What needs to be included in your Final Decree of Divorce
Just because you and your spouse are in agreement in a few, key areas of your divorce does not mean that your divorce will wrap up quickly as a result. Indeed, you all will need to do the work (or likely your attorneys will) to create a final decree of divorce that puts a bow on any outstanding issues in your case. Children and property at the top of the list of items that are going to be argued about in your divorce. This should come as a surprise as these are basically the only two categories of subject matter that will come up in your case.
We discussed issues related to children yesterday so we will jump right into a discussion on property today. Your Final Decree of Divorce will need to go over issues related to dividing up community property related to your case. Any property that was purchased or acquired during your marriage, as well as most forms of income earned, are considered to be community property. This means that, no matter which spouse earned the income or purchased the property, the asset is considered to be jointly owned by each of you.
As a result of this joint ownership you and your spouse will need to determine what is to be considered community and what is to be considered separate property. Once you have done this property will need to be divided up in some form or fashion between the two of you. Some property, like businesses, real estate and your home, are not able to be divided up as easily as a silverware set or jewelry. If you all anticipate that there will be issues in dividing up property then it is unlikely that your divorce will be as quick and easy as you may have liked it to be.
Uncontested or contested divorce
I speak with potential clients on occasion who will come into our office to discuss their particular divorce circumstances with me and will detail how their divorce is likely to be considered uncontested. What each person thinks uncontested means is an important question to ask, however. Uncontested means that every issue of your case has been agreed upon. No outstanding issues, no barriers to drawing up a Final Decree of Divorce that takes into consideration all of the issues related to property and children. Put a bow and some signatures on it and have it ready for the judge to sign on the 61st day.
Unfortunately most divorces are not truly uncontested. There are usually a few issues that are still to be resolved after the divorce petition has been filed. If for no other reason than the issue may have slipped the mind of you and your spouse or you both may have been wholly unaware of the issue’s existence and importance to your divorce. If you can resolve these issues (with or without the assistance of an attorney) then you are much more likely to wrap your case up in relatively quick order.
You can also look to whether or not you had to serve your spouse with your original petition for divorce or whether he or she was willing to sign a waiver of service. For a more detailed explanation of these concepts I recommend that you go back and read yesterday’s blog post, but for the purposes of this section I will note that a waiver of service is signed by the non-filing spouse in situations where he or she is willing to waive their right to be personally served with the divorce petition.
If your spouse signs your waiver of service it will need to be filed with your court. This shows an intent, in most cases, to not fight or haggle over issues and rather settle on them instead of moving towards a contested divorce. Even if you have to serve legal notice upon your spouse he or she may still be willing to proceed on a virtually uncontested basis by not filing an Answer within the twenty day (give or take a few extra) time period. You may then proceed on a default basis and have a judge sign your order without consultation or further notice to your spouse.
Bottom line: either get your spouse to agree with you to the terms of your final decree of divorce, draft a decree and have him sign within sixty days in order to get to the courthouse on the sixty-first day with a decree ready for the judge’s signature. In the alternative, you can have your spouse defaulted into the divorce if he or she was properly and legally served with notice of the divorce and chose not to file an Answer. Either way works and can lead to a 61 day divorce in Texas.
Finalize your case with a brief hearing before the judge
A prove up hearing is the final step in finalizing a divorce- contested or uncontested. In most counties in Texas this hearing will occur early in the day before the judge calls his or her contested docket of cases. You and your attorney will appear in person, in court (if you are the filing party) and will show the judge your decree. Your attorney will then ask you a series of yes or no questions that will show the judge that you are aware of what the decree includes and that all items were negotiated upon fairly and with knowledge of your spouse (unless it is a default-divorce).
Your spouse will not attend this hearing and it is basically a formality. Once your judge is satisfied with the order he or she will officially divorce you and your spouse. The order will likely be signed by him or her later that day once the day’s docket has been called.
Want a quick divorce even if you and spouse don’t agree on everything? Mediate
Mediation is the key to getting a relatively quick and painless divorce. Even if you and your spouse do not agree on everything you can mediate your case and achieve great results. Mediation is the process whereby you and your attorney, and your spouse and theirs, will agree upon an independent, third party attorney to intercede and attempt to help you all resolve any outstanding issues in your divorce.
Each party will attend mediation at the mediator’s office. You will be in one room and your spouse in the other. The mediator acts like a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth between each of your rooms to discuss settlement proposals, counter proposals and other issues related to your case. If you all settle on all issues a mediated settlement agreement will be drawn up that allows one of the attorneys (usually the party who has filed the divorce) to draft a decree based on the agreements contained in the MSA.
This is the most realistic path towards a quick and relatively pain free divorce in Texas. Wishing your spouse into a reasonable person probably won’t work. Hoping that he or she does not respond to your petition isn’t either. Mediation is a reasonable and highly successful path to your divorce goals.
Questions on divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you are interested in speaking to one our licensed family law attorneys please contact our office today. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week where we can answer your questions and go over your specific situation to help you problem solve and strategize for your upcoming family law case.