Asking about how long it takes to get a divorce in Texas can be a tricky subject to get into. While there are deadlines in a typical Texas divorce case, there are no special rules that determine when a case is complete. The specific circumstances that you and your spouse are dealing with will make the difference in how long your case will last. With that said, this is still a reasonable question to ask. Most important to you at the beginning of your divorce will be the fact that you do not want your case to take any longer than it must.
In a typical Texas divorce, you or your spouse will file an original divorce petition and then serve notice of the divorce petition having been filed upon your spouse. From there, your spouse will file an answer in the divorce. Now your case can truly be said to have started. However, numerous situations can arise both at the beginning of a divorce and during the case itself which can delay the completion of your case. While some of these factors are beyond your control, many are not.
As a result, we will spend some time today discussing what factors you can avoid decreasing the length of your divorce case. At the same time, we will talk about different circumstances that may arise in your case and how they can contribute to the overall length of your divorce. Ultimately, the actual length of a divorce is not incredibly important in the long run. True, it may feel like your divorce is taking forever but in reality, it is more than likely that your case will take a few months to finish from start to end. However, the key part of a divorce is what you do with the time while the case is active to protect your property and your relationship with your minor children. Everything else is just details.
The other important aspect of a divorce case that bears some mention here is that you and your family could stand to use some advice and perspective when going through with the divorce. There are so many factors to consider in a divorce case when you think about your children, your property, and everything in between that you may not have the level of expertise needed to fully think through the issues and make decisions that are in your and your children's best interests. With so much going on in a divorce case you need to know where you can turn to find helpful advice and information.
We recommend that you contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today to learn more about the divorce process in Texas. We can provide you with information based on the specific circumstances that you are facing. Whether your question is about the potential length of your divorce or a specific question about child custody, we will take the time to give you information that can better assist you in preparing for your divorce case.
If your divorce case has already been filed, then our attorneys can work with you to begin representation once you express a desire to move in that direction. Typically, at the beginning of a divorce, you don't have much time to lose when it comes to preparing your case, hiring an attorney, and answering the divorce petition of your spouse. When time is of the essence and experience matters, you have no better resource in Southeast Texas than the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. A free-of-charge consultation with our attorneys over the phone, in person, or via video can make a tremendous difference both for your family and for your divorce case in general.
The minimum amount of time for a Texas divorce
When it comes to getting a divorce in Texas there is a minimum length of time your case can be expected to take. From the date on which you or your spouse file the Original Petition for Divorce, you can expect that your divorce will take at least 60 days to complete itself. This is done to allow you and your spouse to think long and hard about the decision that you have made to get divorced. You may want to move away from the divorce process and instead try to reconcile your marriage. How the two of you work towards a reconciliation during those sixty days can give you a pretty good indication of whether you two are going to be able to set aside your differences and communicate through your problems.
Otherwise, the main exception for this 60-day minimum length of divorce in Texas is regarding family violence being an issue in your home. Specifically, if your spouse has been charged with a crime involving domestic or family violence within the past two years before the divorce is filed then you may have an exception to be able to complete your divorce sooner than 60 days. Hopefully, this is not an issue that is relevant to your case even if it meant getting the timeline sped up.
Before you assume that the 60-day waiting period for divorce is going to be spent with you twiddling your thumbs, you can guess again. However long your divorce takes will be dependent in part on how well you and your spouse can set aside your differences and work together on the issues that are impacting your marriage. Some of these subjects will be relatively simple to negotiate through. All it takes is a willingness to do so and getting on the same page regarding the pertinent subject matter. For example, a division of your retirement benefits may be simpler to achieve than you would have thought if the two of you can only take the time to look at both of your retirement accounts in detail.
However, there may also be subjects that are more difficult for the two of you to sort through in terms of negotiation. An example of this would be if both you and your co-parent are dead set on becoming the primary conservator of your children. The primary conservator of a child can determine the primary residence of the child, meaning that your child would live with you during the school week. This gives you more possession time with your child and typically means that you will also be in a position where you hold superior rights when it comes to being able to make decisions on behalf of your child.
In a situation like this, you can expect that there is going to be a great amount of pushback from your co-parent. In this type of situation, you may not be able to negotiate a possession order without the assistance of the courts. The more involved you are family court judge must be in terms of appointing experts to analyze the situation and make recommendations to the judge, the longer you can expect your case to take.
If your mind is focused on the issue of the length of your divorce, then you should be doing everything in your power to make sure that you can negotiate through the simple issues of your case without much resistance. If you know in advance that there will be a certain issue that is going to take some intervention either by the court or by a mediator to help you and your spouse work through, then you should not bang your head against the wall and try to force an agreement on those subjects. Rather, if you can work through the subjects where you know a settlement can be achieved by communicating directly with your spouse then that is the more efficient way to negotiate.
Avoiding the issues in a divorce that can prolong your case
As we mentioned at the beginning of today's blog post, there are certain issues in a Texas divorce that you cannot avoid. Other times, there are some pitfalls and traps that you can walk right into which will delay or indefinitely prolong your case. In this section of today's blog post, we are going to talk about what are some issues that you can work to avoid in your divorce that can keep the length of your case to a minimum.
A divorce case can be prolonged simply by not trying to negotiate with your spouse. You may have this idea in your mind of what a divorce is like. Constant trips to court. The judge banging their gavel, etc. The reality of your divorce is likely to be something not at all like this. Most of the divorce is down-time, relatively speaking. You may have some deadlines to respond to discovery requests and things of this nature but otherwise, the case is not something that requires active work every single day by you or your attorney.
Other than, we should say, regarding negotiations with your spouse. This is where you can make a huge difference in your case if you are motivated to do so. You can and should work with your spouse during these moments of relative calm to see if you can arrive at a settlement or at least move in that direction whenever possible. Assuming that you will be able to wrap everything up in mediation may come back to haunt you if there are details that need to hammer out in advance.
There are two good examples that I wanted to share with you in this regard. The first has to do with a possession schedule for your children. If you and your spouse are trying to figure out how to determine a possession schedule for your children, then you can utilize these months of downtime effectively to do so. Figuring out all the “small” details can make a tremendous difference for you in the big picture. Where will drop off and pick up occur? Do you need to change the times for each based on your schedule or that of your co-parent? What are the holiday schedules going to look like?
In a busy divorce case, these are the sort of issues that may get pushed to the back burner in favor of the topics that seem to be "on fire" that day. However, these seemingly simple questions need answers sooner than later. If you and your spouse can at least begin to discuss them in the setting of informal negotiations, then you will leave less to discuss at mediation. That is where you all can engage in the topics that truly need detailed negotiation in a controlled setting. Deciding the small details on "pick up and drop off" can be done informally during the case.
Next, if you know that you have a complicated financial issue to discuss regarding community property then you should do so during the divorce itself. You may be a small business owner who is going to have to decide how to divide up the small business in the divorce. If not, you may try to leave the business alone and instead focus on dividing up other assets that are more simple and less cumbersome to deal with. Whatever the case, you should be negotiating on these subjects during the divorce, as well.
Valuing a small business can be complicated in and of itself. There are multiple methods for valuing the business so you and your attorney should reach out to your spouse to see what their thoughts are on this subject. If you can agree to a single method to value, the business then you all can avoid a situation where experts have to be hired to perform an analysis on value using multiple methods. This can decrease the cost and length of your case.
Who you hire to represent you in the divorce can impact the length of your case
Something to bear in mind is that the attorney that you choose to represent you matters in connection with the length of your case. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are proactive in representing our clients. We do not take days off when it comes to trying to move the ball down the field for your case. The information I just provided you with as far as not taking days for granted and using every opportunity available to negotiate a case? That is what we do every day for our clients.
You will not have to call your attorney with our office and ask him or her what they have done on your case. We will work with you to communicate updates and let you know what we could be working on as a team. Instead of twiddling our thumbs and waiting for mediation, we will actively negotiate your case using the time available to us. This allows us to avoid delays and reach settlements on important issues sooner rather than later.
When you are meeting with a new attorney it can be important to try and determine how well that attorney will communicate on your behalf with the opposing party and their lawyer. Yes, this sounds like a tricky thing to try and determine from an initial consultation, but you can learn about the attorney's perspective and habits when it comes to these communication issues by asking questions of him or her. Try to determine if the lawyer seems interested in being able to negotiate in this manner if he or she shrugs their shoulders and seems content to wait until mediation to try and solve the major issues of your case.
You may also have updates that you need to provide your attorney with throughout the case. This would be a normal experience for a person in your position. When you want to give an update on something to your lawyer it can be frustrating for you to not be able to reach him or her. Family law attorneys are frequently in and out of the courtroom during the day in addition to attending mediations and other commitments on behalf of clients.
With that said, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan take seriously the need to be able to communicate with our clients. Our attorneys always take phone calls when we are in the office. We do not direct calls that we could otherwise take to voicemail or a paralegal. If your attorney is not available to take a phone call, then he or she will call you back within one day of your call. In the meantime, your paralegal will be able to provide you with information and send messages to your attorney until he or she can call you back. These safeguards can save you money and time- and decrease the length of your case.
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 opportunity for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.