How can you speed up the divorce process a great deal in Texas? The best answer to this question to work with your spouse prior to filing for divorce in order to settle any outstanding issues that you will need to sort through. Everybody wants a quick and easy divorce. That’s what I hear most frequently during the free of charge consultations that the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC offers. Who can blame them? Divorce is not fun and divorces can be expensive. Why waste time and resources on them if you do not have to?
Not all divorces can be quick and easy but many can be relatively quick and easy. In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC we will discuss the factors that can lead to your divorce getting wrapped up sooner rather than later. While the vast majority of issues that you may face in your divorce cannot be gone over in detail here, I would like to touch on those circumstances and factors that could lead you towards a resolution in short order for your divorce case.
Time is relative in the world of divorce
Different people think of “quick” in different terms. Some people think of quick like a microwave- if it’s not ready in five minutes then it’s not quick. Other people think of quick like a sundial- everything takes a little bit of time, after all. In Texas, the fastest most people can get divorced is sixty days. That means within sixty days of filing your petition for divorce you would be able to present a Final Decree of Divorce to your judge that is signed by you and your spouse.
Beginning your divorce by filing a Petition for Divorce
The very first document that would be filed in your divorce case is called a Petition for Divorce. This document states some very basic information to your court: who you are, who your spouse is, if you have any children and the basis on which your divorce is founded. If you are asserting that your divorce is being filed due to abandonment, abuse or infidelity then go ahead and say so but just know that these type of divorces are not going to the “quick and easy” ones that I described in the opening to this blog post.
Ultimately that is ok. You don’t need a quick and easy divorce. You need a divorce that will tie up any loose ends in the marriage, divide community property fairly and will leave you and your children in good positions to move on with the rest of your lives. If it can be done quickly, that’s great. If not then that’s ok too.
Back to the topic of the Divorce Petition. You will file the petition in the county that you and/or your spouse reside. For most folks this is the same county, but the longer I do this job the more I find out that spouses don’t always live in the same county- not to mention the same home. You have the option of filing the petition in whatever county you live in or the county that your spouse lives in. Most folks will decide to file in their home county so that they can have “home field advantages” like less travel time and things of that nature.
Waiting is the hardest part (of divorce)
If you have filed for divorce then get ready to…wait. Your divorce petition will either have to be picked up by a process server or constable and physically served upon your spouse or your spouse will agree to sign a waiver of service. This waiver of service does just that- waives their right to be served formally with the divorce paperwork. Note that if you believe that your divorce is uncontested- i.e. that there are no outstanding issues to negotiate upon- that this is the better/faster option to choose.
Once your spouse is served or signs the service waiver you and your spouse will likely have to wait sixty days to go to the judge with your signed and completed final decree of divorce. The reason for this is because the state of Texas (through the Texas Family Code) mandates that you wait at least sixty days in order to make sure that a divorce is actually something that you want to do. If not, you have some time to cool off and make other plans. I have had clients on occasion tell me out of the blue that he or she has reconciled with their spouse. This is always great news to hear as nobody wants another person to get a divorce. But, I can tell you that this does not happen frequently.
Keep in mind that if your spouse has been convicted of a crime related to family violence against you or a member of your home this sixty day waiting period can be waived by the judge. However, you must file a motion to waive the sixty day waiting period and then have a hearing on the subject after providing your spouse at least three days of notice prior to the hearing date. I can honestly say that I have never had a divorce case that has wrapped up in less than sixty days.
61 days is a best case scenario
Another thing to keep in mind is that sixty one days is a best case scenario for most people awaiting a divorce. Not every case will be completed in this time. In fact, the vast majority of cases will take longer than sixty one days. It doesn’t have to be a long, long time after that but to get everything done that needs to get done in just two months is harder than it looks. Consider the fact that you and your spouse must have agreed upon every single issues in your divorce prior to an attorney drafting your final orders that encompasses all those agreements.
I mentioned earlier that if you and your spouse are on speaking terms and in agreement on the issues related to your divorce that a waiver of service may be signed by him or and returned to you. If this is the case you should file that waiver of service so that when you come to court later on the judge can see that this step has been completed. If not, your divorce will not be finalized on the day you attend court.
Not all spouses are ok with signing a waiver of service. On some level, other than saving time, you should wonder what is in it for your spouse? Unless he or she absolutely wants to get the divorce over with- at the neglect of any issue related to divorce- he or she should consider their options before signing the waiver. If you are in a position where your spouse has emailed or mailed a waiver of service to you then do not sign it unless you have spoken to an attorney first.
Requirements of the final decree of divorce
If you have children then orders regarding custody and child support will need to be included and accounted for in your final decree of divorce. Rights and duties (otherwise known as conservatorship) will need to be divided up between you and your spouse.
The other main issue of a divorce case deals with property. Any community property (property acquired during your marriage, for the most part) will need to be divided between you and your spouse as well.
Once you have an order that contains provisions for all these subjects you or your spouse will need to attend a short, uncontested hearing with your judge. If you have hired an attorney, he or she will go with you and ask you a series of yes/no questions that tell the judge that you have reviewed the document you are asking him or her to sign and that it includes orders regarding the children/property issues we just discussed.
Overall, it is possible to get a quick divorce but it is always advisable to have legal representation in doing so. Hiring an attorney will not slow your process down, but may actually help you avoid problems and allow your case to proceed without undue delay.