Getting a divorce is not easy. I don't just mean that getting a divorce is difficult emotionally. actually, getting a divorce from your spouse is difficult to do. There is a process involved That must be followed specifically and cannot be deviated from. This is not something where you would be able to get some of the steps correct and then skip others and still get a divorce. Rather, there is a set process that you need to follow in order to get yourself divorced from your spouse. If you fail to follow those steps and understand the process, then you will not be able to get a divorce.
Not only will you not be able to get a divorce, but you will have wasted time and likely wasted money as well. I should also note at this point that getting a divorce is not free. No, that does not mean that you will end up spending your life savings on getting the divorce. However, it does mean that there is some money involved simply in filing for divorce. When there is money and just as importantly time at stake in your divorce you should be aware of all of the circumstances in play as well as what they mean to you as an individual.
Now, just because I mentioned that getting a divorce is not easy doesn't mean that it is overly difficult, either. The steps of a divorce can be learned and we're going to go through them today. The processes involved are not the same as creating a vaccine or building a spaceship. This is not rocket science. However, just like anything else there are steps involved in the process and aspects of a case that you need to be aware of. Let's spend some time going through the steps of a divorce and then identify where people can make mistakes when they attempt to represent themselves in a case.
The steps and stages of a Texas divorce
The first step to begin a divorce in Texas is to file an original petition for divorce. This original petition for divorce covers the basics of your case: the parties involved, the names of your children and their ages, why you are filing for divorce, whether or not any fault grounds are being cited as well as your position on community property division. These are the basics of your case Ann will act as the road map for you and your attorney as your case begins. An original petition for divorce can always be revised as an amended petition for divorce later in the case but to begin the divorce you must file an original petition.
The original petition for divorce is often times filed alongside a notice of hearing wherein you request a hearing date for temporary orders. A temporary orders hearing will cover the basic ground rules of your case in the event that you and your spouse cannot agree on them yourselves. Issues like dividing custody for the duration of your divorce, deciding who will remain in the marital home and who must find another place to live, how to divide up bills for the house and for the children as well as issues regarding spousal support and child support. Much of the time you and your spouse will be able to settle these issues for yourselves and temporary orders mediation but if you are not able to the judge will assign a hearing date for your case.
Once these documents have been filed with the clerk of the court where your case will be heard they must then be served upon your spouse. There are basically two methods to doing this. The first method would be to have a private process server pick up the documents and submit them in person to your spouse. The other method would be to have a constable or other law enforcement officer pick up the documents and do the same. A citation will be included with the original petition for divorce and any other documents that are filed that will be filled out by the process server or police officer once service is affected. The citation will be returned to the court and maintained in your file.
It is then the responsibility of your spouse to file an Answer to your original petition for divorce. The answer is the name of a legal document that accomplishes a few things. The first is that it introduces any positions that you take in regard to allegations contained in the original petition for divorce. Many times, a respondent will include with their answer a document known as a counter petition which allows your spouse to allege their own grounds for divorce and other offensive tactics in regard to the case.
An answer must be filed within 20 days of being served with the original petition for divorce. If your spouse fails to file an answer within this amount of time he or she could be held in default and potentially you could move forward with the divorce without him or her being a part of the process. However unlikely it is that your spouse will not file an answer You need to be prepared to move forward with your case in the event that no answer is filed. This is an advantageous position for you to be in and allows you to present your side of the case to the judge without any contradictory evidence being submitted by your spouse.
once your petition for divorce has been filed in an answer has been filed by your spouse in response to your petition all of the elements of a divorce are in place for your case to begin. The minimum amount of time in Texas for a divorce to take is 60 days from the date on which the petition for divorce was filed. exceptions to this rule exists for cases where spousal abuse or family violence is prevalent in the home. However, barring any circumstances like these being involved you could expect for your divorce to last at least 60 days.
The 60-day requirement reflects the Texas legislature's belief that under most circumstances it is better for people to remain married then it is for them to obtain a divorce. Public policy in our state reflects the belief that parents who are in an intact marriage tend to raise children better than parents who live in separate households and are divorced. The 60-day waiting requirement for divorce gives you and your spouse ample opportunity to think long and hard about whether or not you want to get a divorce and whether it is in your best interest for the divorce to occur.
The vast majority of a divorce case is spent negotiating with your spouse. Contrary to what many people think about divorce cases it is unlikely for your case to go before a judge for a trial. Yes, it is entirely possible that you will go before a judge for a hearing on matters here and there. However, it is more likely than not that your case will be settled in mediation. Mediation is a place where an experienced mediator, family law attorney and a client can oftentimes experience a great deal of success in helping parties arrive at settlements. However, the effectiveness of mediation may be mitigated if you do not have an attorney representing you.
finally, it is possible that your divorce case could end in a trial. A trial is a situation where both you and your spouse present evidence to a judge and make arguments regarding child custody and property division in your divorce. At the conclusion of the trial a judge would make a decision regarding the questions submitted to him as far as custody for children, child support, Visitation, possession, conservatorships and a division of your community estate.
The decisions by a judge will be written into a final decree of divorce as would any settlement agreements arrived at in mediation between you and your spouse. Either your spouse is attorney, or your attorney would draft the final orders Anne would submit them for review prior to all parties and their attorneys signing. Once those signatures have been obtained you would present the document to a judge where he or she would consider its validity and then sign it. This marks the end of your divorce case.
Where do costly mistakes arise most commonly in do-it-yourself divorces?
Now that we have gone through the steps of a divorce we can discuss where mistakes are oftentimes made by people who are not represented by an attorney or are represented by an attorney who is not an experienced family law practitioner. Please note that many attorneys will tell you that they are capable of handling a divorce but have, in reality, never handled a divorce case on their own. With that said, here are some areas of your divorce where you would be best served to be represented by an attorney in order to avoid costly mistakes.
The first area where it is important to actually have an attorney is at the very beginning of your case. A fairly high percentage of the clients at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan at one time handled their own divorce case without an attorney. These folks have experience with many people do in regard to self-representation in a divorce. Most people do not have the fundamental legal know how or the time to be able to work on a divorce adequately and maintain the other areas of their life. It is useful to have an attorney if for no other reason than that attorney allows you 2 focus not only on your divorce but on other areas of your life such as your children.
If you make mistakes in drafting documents, fail to draft and file the correct documents, or simply failed to move forward with the divorce despite your intent to do so this sort of mistakes can cost you both in time and money. Would I tell clients with some frequency is that while you can always make more money it is impossible to get more time added to your life. As such, you do not want to waste any time on getting your case started. If you know that you need to get a divorce, Then you should begin the process of getting a divorce in earnest.
Another area of a divorce where not an attorney by your side having can hurt you is at the very end. In mediation it is beneficial to have an attorney by your side because lawyer can help you to identify what are good in fair settlement options in which ones may not be as advantageous to you. While a mediator can spend time with you during the divorce to help you reach a settlement agreement the mediator cannot and will not give you legal advice. That legal advice can only come from an attorney and you will be at a disadvantage if you do not have a lawyer with you in your divorce case during mediation.
Finally, it is useful to have an attorney by your side when drafting in reviewing drafts of the final decree of divorce. Keep in mind that the settlement agreement in mediation is only worth so much if what you settled upon cannot be translated into enforceable court orders. As such, you will want to make sure that what you settled upon a mediation actually ends up in the final draft of your final decree of divorce. Luckily, attorneys like ours can actually represent you just in the drafting phase of final orders if that is your preference.
Questions about the material presented in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material presented in today's blog post then please do not hesitate to contact theLaw 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 the services that our attorneys and staff can provide to you and your family as clients of ours.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Dividing Property in a Texas Divorce - The Just and Right Division
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- What Wikipedia Can’t Tell you About Texas Divorce and Marital Property Division
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Kingwood Divorce Lawyer
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 ar Kingwood, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A divorce lawyer in Kingwood TX is 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 Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, 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.