Some of you who are beginning to read this blog post are doing so because problems in your marriage before the pandemic are now coming to the forefront of your relationship. If this is the case, then I truly sympathize and empathize with you. None of us have had an easy time going through this pandemic, and those who have experienced marital difficulties have more acutely felt the problems presented by the past 12 months than others. Hopefully, you and your spouse can navigate the choppy waters of marriage and work towards a resolution to remain married.
Probably the question that most people want to know an answer to before anything else in a divorce is how long the case will take to conclude. Keep in mind that a divorce is not an overnight process. While we may live in a microwave society where the things we want and need can often be given to us very quickly, a divorce is not one of those things. There is a process involved in getting a divorce, and there is little ability to jump ahead or to missteps along the way. I'm telling you to be patient with your divorce. That means being patient with yourself and being patient with the divorce itself.
For starters, your divorce will take a minimum of two months to complete from the date on which you filed your case. How do I know this? Am I a psychic or good at predicting the future? The reality of the situation is that I don't know anything about your case or your circumstances, but I know that divorces in Texas take a minimum of two months to complete from the date on which a divorce is filed. There is a 60-day waiting period to encourage parties like yourself and your spouse to reconcile the differences in your marriage and work towards successful reconciliation.
If you're wondering if I have ever worked with people who have been able to reconcile their marriage amid a divorce, I would tell you that I have done so, and I have known people to stay married even though they have filed previously for divorce. Keep in mind that everyone's circumstances are different, and you and your spouse both have to be on the same mind when it comes to reconciling your marriage period; however, to say that it is impossible or completely unrealistic for your marriage to be salvaged after a difficult process involving the filing of a divorce would be untrue. The odds would appear to be against you, but it certainly is possible.
Otherwise, you can expect your divorce to take at least two months to complete. As far as a maximum length for divorce, most judges will want your case to be concluded in one way or another within one year of filing the case. This means that you must either settle your case or attend a trial before the judge within one year of your case being filed. However, there certainly are divorces that take longer than a year to complete, and there are divorces that can be much shorter. When it comes to any matter related to family law, you should be aware that the facts and circumstances of your case are significant to determine a timeline.
How long your case takes will depend on what issues are at stake.
The more complex the issues are in your divorce will determine how long your divorce takes. A simple divorce involving you and your spouse, no real assets, in no children could be expected to take around two months to complete. Bearing in mind the two-month minimum for most divorces, all you all would need is to figure out what to do with car titles and the like while waiting on paperwork to be drafted and signed. Young people who own very little Community property and have no children typically find themselves with some more straightforward divorces. As a result, their cases tend to be much shorter in length typically.
On the other end of the spectrum are divorced involving complex property and debt circumstances and matters related to child custody determinations. Almost every person reading this blog either has Community property to be divided in a divorce or is the parent to a child whose issues will need to be dealt with during the divorce case itself. Because of this, you can expect your divorce case to take somewhat longer than two months but not necessarily much more in length.
For instance, if you and your spouse have children together, you will need to work through a divorce that involves creating a Visitation schedule on a temporary and full-time basis. Please do not underestimate how important it is for you and your spouse to adjust to living in separate households while parenting children together as a team during a divorce case. One of you will be named as the primary conservator of your children. This means that that parent will live with the children on a full-time basis. The other parent will be named as a possessory conservator with Visitation rights to the children.
This temporary phase of your divorce is important because you all will need to determine whether or not the possession and Visitation schedules outlined in your temporary orders will work on a full-time basis. If they do not work well, you all will need to spend some time negotiating a plan that suits your needs more readily. Bear in mind that there can be back and forth in divorce settlement negotiations, but typically, those are only talks until you get to final orders mediation. I have seen many divorce cases that stay stuck in the mud as far as negotiations are concerned, but once things get to mediation, the parties become more alert and willing to work with one another.
Issues regarding Visitation in a Texas divorce
be prepared to negotiate extensively with your spouse regarding visitation with your children. I will write about the subject in this blog post as if you were the parrot who has Visitation rights rather than as the parent with whom the children will live primarily. I think writing about the topic from this perspective allows us To talk about the subject from a more nuanced angle. The parent with Visitation rights typically tries to be more creative to allow him or herself more time with the kids.
For starters, if you are a father who wants to act as the primary conservator for your children, you will need to fight for that right. Often in a divorce, a dad will take a back seat to mom unnecessarily because he believes that he has no right or ability to have the children live with him full time. This is certainly not the case. If you have been an active and involved father in the lives of your children, then you have every right 2 continue to be a part of their life. The state of Texas encourages parents to be as much a part of their child's life as possible. Courts do not discriminate against men when it comes to custody decisions.
However, you can expect your wife to take issue with your attempts to be named the primary conservator. You should not expect to settle on this issue in mediation unless specific facts and circumstances of your case make that a possibility. For example, if drug or alcohol abuse on the part of your wife is an issue, you may have a leg up when it comes to being named primary conservator. Otherwise, many mothers expect to be named as primary conservators. It would be surprising for your wife to concede this point to you in simple settlement negotiations or even in mediation.
As such, you may need to head to the family law court to have a temporary order hearing on the subject if you want to be named as the primary conservator. I realized that temporary orders seem only, well, temporary, but I can assure you that they are important for the long-term future of your case. What is decided in temporary orders tends to also hold for final orders. With this in mind, you should not give up on pursuing your main objectives in a temporary order hearing, even if it means your case will take somewhat longer to complete.
When you and your attorney are in mediation, we'll need to figure out how to create a flexible yet enforceable Visitation agreement if you are not interested in becoming the primary conservator of your children. Understanding that you have more options the closer you live to your spouse, and your child is key to this discussion. If you choose to live close to them and can work out the kinks in your Visitation plan rather quickly after temporary orders mediation, then there is a good chance your case could go to final orders mediation sooner rather than later.
On the other hand, if your visitation plan experiences problems logistically, you all may need a longer trial period to determine what will work better for you to test runs for final orders. I have experienced first-hand many couples in your position Who thought they had arrived at a good middle ground for custody and Visitation in temporary orders but found some flaws in their plans in practice.
For instance, if you reside quite a ways away from your child and your spouse, then you may find that the pickup and drop-off times and locations may need to be altered during the case to suit you all the better for post-divorce life. this may cause a longer temporary order stage of your case than a couple who have arrived at temporary orders that are more suitable.
Whatever your specific circumstances are regarding visitation, you should be mindful that it is better to be aggressive and to stand your ground now in your divorce than to attempt to renegotiate your orders later on. I have worked with clients before who will tell me that they knew of people who go back and attempt to modify their custody or visitation agreements in the future. While modifying a court order is possible, it can be difficult to complete. The more sensible approach would be to attempt an order that reflects your circumstances the first time rather than rely upon a modification later on.
Attempt to find some middle ground as soon as possible in your case
I think people tend to work better with a goal in mind. Rather than beginning your divorce with no set goal, I would recommend that clients begin to focus on achievable goals from the very beginning of their case. For instance, If you want to have split custody of your children with your spouse, then that should be a focus of yours from the very beginning. Communicate that goal to your attorney so that they will know what you want to accomplish. You can hire an attorney and have that attorney have no idea of what you want to accomplish in your case.
This alone can cause you to lose precious time at the beginning of a case when you otherwise could have been working on accomplishing your goals. Other than the two-month waiting period after the divorce is filed, there is no set period for a divorce to take. What that said, you could wrap your divorce up in short order after this waiting period is concluded, but only if you have positioned your case in a way that a settlement is possible. Going back and forth with your spouse on matters that are not of great long-term importance is a surefire way to delay your case unnecessarily.
If possible, you should attempt to work with your spouse on the issues you want to focus on before your divorce is even filed. I have represented more than a handful of clients in my time as a family law attorney who has been able to come into my office with an agreement pretty much in place. However, it takes a couple who is willing to put their differences aside and arrive at solutions that are best for their family to accomplish a goal like this. It also takes you and your spouse to be intentional about arriving at the end of your divorce like it was the most desirable thing in the world.
From my perspective as an attorney, your lawyer can only drive you so hard to complete your case and start thinking about goals worth achieving. You are an attorney who cannot want the end of your divorce more than you do. You need to be able to develop a "why" as far as why it is that you want to get to the end of your divorce. Do you want to save money? Do you want to save your family? Do you want to save your sanity? All of these are worthwhile goals but are ones that you need to develop ahead of time. All of the efficiency and know-how of your attorney will not pay dividends unless you want to get to the end of your divorce as efficiently and effectively as possible.
It is certainly worthwhile for you to attempt to do everything you can to arrive at an equitable solution to your divorce sooner rather than later. As I have mentioned already in today's blog post, no one benefits from a long and drawn-out divorce. However, that does not mean that you should rush towards the end of a divorce to get it over with period your job, along with that of your attorney, is to thread the needle and find some middle ground between these two worthwhile objectives. Keep in mind that the judge at the end of the case will not ask you if everything worked out just like you wanted to or if you are satisfied with where you are at the end of your case. As long as your final decree of divorce he fair and based on the circumstances of your case, then they will sign your order. Nobody is going to hold your hand and make sure that the divorce turns out exactly as you want it to. That is your responsibility, and you need to be intentional about your goal setting even to know what you want to accomplish in the 1st place.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law 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 and the facts and circumstances that may be relevant to your case in particular.