Divorces in Texas are a paradox. On the one hand, I would tell you that your divorce is unique and that nobody else’s before yours or after can match it in terms of circumstances and characteristics. On the other hand, despite how unique your divorce is it will still follow the exact same process as every other divorce in Texas.
The more I work with people going through divorces the more I come to the realization that while there are patterns that develop with these cases, for the most part, there is no way to utilize the same tactics, strategies, and advice and apply them the same way from case to case. That is what makes the job of a family law attorney both challenging and exciting- something new comes our way every day of the week.
In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC I would like to share with you some information on how divorce works from beginning to end. Yes, your case will look similar to this one. No, I cannot tell you for certain how your case to going to go in terms of its length, expense or outcome. For that kind of more educated guessing, I suggest that you contact our office today to set up a free of charge consultation. We can discuss these steps more in detail and apply them to your individual circumstances.
Expect your divorce to take at least sixty days to complete
Unless your marriage is one where family violence has become an issue you can expect for your divorce to take at least sixty days. The reason for this is that the State of Texas requires that a sixty day waiting period be applied to every divorce that is filed starting on the day of the filing. From there you have sixty days to cool your heels and decide if a divorce is actually what is best for you and your spouse. If it is and you all have a final order that is agreed to and signed by you and your spouse you can get divorced on day sixty-one.
Realistically, you can expect your divorce to take longer than this. The reason is that, while most divorces do not go all the way to a trial, most spouses are not in immediate agreement on every single issue in your case. Remember that you are attempting to sort out issues related to your children and your property in a divorce case.
If one of these issues doesn’t cause a disagreement between you and your spouse, odds are decent that the other will. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and it does not mean that your divorce is going to become one of those nasty cases that you hear about on television. However, it does mean that planning for a longer than two-month divorce is most likely necessary.
How to begin your divorce case
The initial filing in a divorce in Texas is an Original Petition for Divorce. Whichever spouse files it, either you or your spouse, will be known as the Petitioner in your case. The other spouse will be known as the Respondent. Most divorce petitions in Texas are fairly short-usually totaling three pages or less in length. The Petition tells the court that you are filing for divorce, the reason why you are (what grounds you are citing) as well as the names and ages of your children and what (if any) property will be divided in your case.
The petition is filed with the court, typically online. Along with the petition for divorce, you have two options when notifying your spouse that a divorce is being filed. You can hire a private process server or constable who will pick up the petition from the courthouse along with a citation that will instruct your spouse on their rights and tell him or her a deadline by which an Answer must be filed.
The Answer is the legal document that responds to your Original Petition. An Answer must be filed by 10:00 on the first Monday following the expiration of twenty days from when the Petition was served on your spouse. If he or she fails to file their Answer by this date they are in default and potentially you can secure your divorce without his or her input on the case. More on that later.
The other option that is less utilized in divorces is to have your spouse sign a Waiver of Service document and have that filed with the Petition in the records for your case. A Waiver of Service does just that- it waives any right your spouse has to be formally served with notice of the divorce lawsuit. This does not mean that future court-appearances or other deadlines do not have to be provided to your spouse, it just means that he or she acknowledges the divorce and is telling the court that he or she has been effectively notified of the proceedings.
Usually, a Waiver is only signed when you and your spouse agree on the issues to be decided in your case. This means that all issues concerning property and children should likely already have been settled on if you plan to have your spouse sign a waiver. Otherwise, it is unlikely that he or she would be willing to do so.
Amending an Original Petition
You are able to amend or change your Original Petition any time as long as it is done at least seven days prior to your trial date.
Often times people amend their Petition in order to allege additional grounds for divorce or correct any errors made in drafting the document.
Answers and Counter-petitions
Once your spouse is formally served with notice of your divorce petition, he or she must file an Answer. Your spouse will likely deny any and all of the allegations that you assert in your Petition. The most important part of the Answer is that it keeps you from getting a default judgment against him or her.
Under the laws of Texas, if you do not file an Answer within this approximate twenty day period following your being served you can draft your own final orders and then head to the courthouse on the sixty-first date without providing your spouse any warning of your intent to do so. An Answer does not have to be formally served upon you. If you have an attorney, your spouse’s attorney will send it to him or her.
The temporary orders phase of a divorce case in Texas
The longest period of your divorce case occurs in between the time that you file your divorce and when your divorce is finalized by all parties and the judge signs your Final Decree of Divorce. The temporary orders phase is just that- temporary. It works to ensure that you and your spouse are playing nice in the sandbox, so to speak.
This time in your case is spent getting used to doing the whole “joint custody” thing and to ensure that all bills are paid, responsibilities are met. A temporary restraining order is sometimes filed at the same time as your divorce petition which tells the judge that you are seeking specific temporary orders to be put into place immediately. These orders would be in effect, if approved by the judge, immediately but would be good for only two weeks. The thought is that you would attend a temporary orders hearing or mediation in order to make the orders permanent.
Questions about a temporary orders hearing? Stay tuned tomorrow for more information
If you would like to continue learning about this subject with us tomorrow then please do not hesitate to head back to our blog. We will pick up right where we left off today.
In the meantime, any questions about divorce can be addressed to the licensed family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We work with people in our community just like you to solve their family law problems and do our best to address your questions directly in a comfortable, pressure-free environment.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
If you want to know more about how to prepare, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “13 Dirty Tricks to Watch Out For in Your Texas Divorce, and How to Counter Them" Today!”
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- 6 Tips - On How to prepare for a Texas Divorce
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- Roadmap of Basic Divorce Procedure in Texas
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County