Divorce is a complicated process, and the more you know before you begin, the better off you’ll be. At such an emotionally charged time, the last thing you need is to be blindsided by something you could have prepared for. To best protect yourself, take the time now to understand the important steps involved in a Texas divorce, and be sure to get a great Texas divorce attorney to help ensure the best possible outcome in your divorce.
Grounds for Divorce in Texas
Divorce in Texas requires that at least one of the spouses has been a resident of Texas for at least six months. He or she also must be a resident of the county where the divorce is being filed for at least 90 days. Texas allows for various grounds for divorce. For instance, when conflicts in the marriage are unresolvable, either spouse can state that the marriage is insupportable. In addition, at-fault grounds can be considered by the court in the division of assets and liabilities. At-fault includes abandonment for a year or more, cruelty, adultery, incarceration for more than a year, living apart for at least three years, and confinement to a mental hospital for at least three years.
Initiating the Divorce
One of the spouses begins the divorce when he or she files a divorce petition. This person becomes the petitioner. The divorce petition varies in length from case to case, depending on what’s being asked for. In some circumstances, such as abuse, a temporary restraining order will also be filed.
The petition lays out things like:
- The grounds for and the request for a divorce
- A request for division of property and assets
- A recognition of separate property
- A request for orders about children
- A request for temporary orders
The petition is typically not the place for allegations against the other party. Instead, it is a way to start the process in a civil way. Once the petition is filed, it can be amended until seven days before trial.
If formally served, once the respondent has received the petition, he or she is required to file a response. The divorce can’t be finalized until the petition has been on file for 60 days.
Temporary Orders in Texas
After the petition has been filed, the parties enter into temporary orders regarding their property, children, and debts. This is a time when a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) can be served. This TRO requires that the parties treat each other civilly and that assets do not disappear. It also prevents one party from stealing the other party’s mail, cutting off insurance as well as joint credit cards, and more. The TRO lasts for 14 days, so a hearing must be scheduled within that time. If you receive a TRO, follow the terms as requested or you could be punished.
If no TRO is filed, temporary orders still will be set in place to handle issues like who stays in the family home, who pays which bills, who has custody of the children, who supports the children, where the children live, etc. The temporary order may also cover issues in regards to hiding money, destroying property, incurring unusual debts, and more. One spouse could potentially be ordered to pay temporary alimony to the other spouse.
At this point, your divorce lawyer will need details about your monthly living expenses, debts, and income to determine temporary support amounts.
Discovery of Evidence
This is the time for gathering documents, filling out forms, and taking inventory of your assets and debts. It’s a lengthy process, but accurate information is vital for the final decisions of the divorce. Everything must be laid out on the table so that a fair division of property can take place. Hiding assets is not advised, as this could hurt your settlement or trial later.
During this time, you’ll need to produce bank statements, vehicle titles, loan information, insurance policies, real estate deeds, and more. In an Inventory of Appraisement, you’ll need to list all community and separate property and liabilities along with values and exact amounts. Your divorce lawyer will help you in this process.
In addition, formal discovery processes may happen in which your divorce attorney or your spouse’s divorce attorney will request documentations, requests for admissions, oral depositions, and more.
Texas Divorce Settlement
Settlement negotiations begin next. Your family law attorney will likely go back and forth with offers and counteroffers until agreements are made. A successful divorce settlement can save you the expense of trial. It can also save you from having your decisions made by a judge. However, your divorce lawyer should prepare for trial regardless.
Keep in mind you won’t get everything you want in your divorce. You will need to compromise. You can handle settlement in mediation with a neutral third party to guide the settlement. The divorce mediator can’t make any decisions in your divorce, but he or she can guide the discussion. Your family lawyer will join you in divorce mediation and help you make the best decisions. If both parties can agree on a settlement, one of the divorce attorneys involved will prepare an Agreed Decree of Divorce.
Mediation is the most favorable way to settle the terms of your divorce, as it costs less, takes less time, and is typically less emotionally charged than a trial. Plus, you have a final say in the decisions during mediation. In trial, that privilege is off the table.
If you can’t reach a settlement outside of court, your case will go to trial. A good divorce lawyer will work to settle, but will also be prepared for trial. Your case will be tried before a judge (rarely are divorce cases tried before a jury), and you will be called to testify as well as your spouse. Either of the divorce attorneys involved can request a deposition to question the other party in person with a court reporter present. The other party is under oath. In addition, attorneys can call witnesses to testify. When the trial is over, the judge will enter his or her rulings and orders.
The work isn’t done with the settlement or trial. You or the other party may file post-trial motions asking the court to reconsider the rulings.
In addition, your divorce lawyer will prepare the divorce decree and other documents. This decree lays out the terms both parties have agreed to as well as the provisions that are required by statute. It includes details about each person’s rights and duties involving the children, the disposition of property, and more.
Further paperwork will need to be filed. For example, an account will need to be set up with the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General if child support is ordered. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order will also need to be obtained if a 401K was divided. Likewise, there will be other paperwork necessary for other divisions and agreements.
You’ll Need a Good Family Law Attorney
Divorce is not really a DIY process. The paperwork, decisions, stipulations, etc. are very involved and detailed. In addition, it can be difficult to come to terms on important decisions with your soon to be ex. You need a good family law attorney on your side to help you through the negotiations, settlements, paperwork, etc. Ben Carrasco is a divorce attorney well versed in the whole Texas divorce process. Ben is also very thorough and prepared for any twists and turns that may come up along the way.
Need a Great Divorce Attorney?
Ben Carrasco is an experienced, dedicated family law attorney who will fight to win your divorce case. Call Ben today at (512) 320-9126 or request a consultation online!