If your spouse filed for divorce, you might find yourself unsure of what to do next. Whether or not your divorce took you by surprise, this can be a very confusing time. Here is what to expect.
After your husband or wife files for divorce and you have received notice, you have approximately 20 days to respond. Your response and the timeline of your divorce heavily depend on whether your divorce is contested or uncontested.
Filing a Petition
First, one spouse, the Petitioner, files a petition with the court requesting the dissolution of the marriage. This petition is typically detailed, containing any requests, such as alimony, child support, and child custody.
Responding to a Petition
Once the petition has been filed with the court, the other spouse, as Respondent, will receive notice. It is easiest to agree to accept service in writing, which will then be filed with the court. Your agreement allows the case to proceed.
Texas has “no-fault” divorce, meaning neither party has to be “at fault” for the marriage to end.
A contested divorce occurs when you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on one or more issues in the case. Contested divorces will take longer to resolve, and are more likely to end up in court.
A contested divorce begins with the respondent filing an answer disagreeing with some or all of the allegations. The response may also contain additional claims or requests for relief.
Contested divorces are more complex and require discovery. Discovery allows attorneys to uncover information that is pertinent to the divorce. The process of discovery involves interrogatories (detailed written questions), depositions, and expert witnesses.
Uncontested divorces still need answers filed with the court. Your attorney may request to extend the timeline to answer, allowing you and your spouse more time to come to an agreement. If you reach an agreement, there is no need for a trial.
There is no set timeline for a divorce, as it depends on many contributing factors.
Temporary orders may be set in place. Either party may obtain these orders by agreeing or petitioning the court. Temporary orders concern matters while the case is ongoing, including:
- Which spouse may live in the marital home;
- Whom the children will live with and where; and
- Payment of child and spousal support.
Temporary orders may also include temporary restraining or protective orders. These orders can limit personal contact between you and your spouse or prevent one or both of you from disposing of marital property while your case is ongoing.
In Texas, the very shortest time it can take to get divorced is 61 days. A judge may not enter a final judgment until after 60 days have passed since the Respondent was served.
If both parties cannot reach an agreement, you may participate in mediation before moving on to trial. Mediation allows both parties to come together in an informal setting in front of a mediator.
The purpose of mediation is to reach a signed agreement that the parties will present to the court to resolve the divorce. A mediation agreement is binding and will generally be enforced by the court.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the next step is trial.
Divorce trials may take anywhere from a day to several days to complete.
Going to trial can extend the divorce process. Your attorney will need some time to put together their argument and evidence to present to the court.
In divorce proceedings, the Petitioner presents their position to the court, along with any relevant evidence. The Respondent then responds to the allegations and evidence presented and presents their own evidence. The Petitioner then has a chance to rebut, or challenge, the Respondent’s evidence.
After hearing both sides, the judge will take the case under consideration and make their decision.
Finalizing Your Divorce
Once you have reached a mediation agreement or, if you can’t agree, after the conclusion of the trial, the judge will sign a document, called a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, finalizing everything. This document includes all issues in the case, like child custody, division of property, and alimony.
Divorces can often be emotional and overwhelming. Going through a divorce is never easy, no matter the circumstances. The support of a knowledgeable and experienced divorce attorney can make all the difference.
The Law Office of Ben Carrasco is ready to help you during this trying time. As a proud Austin native, I am always prepared to serve my Austin community. I take an assertive yet sensitive approach to every case. Being a solo practitioner, I handle every case personally with great care. Contact me today to schedule your consultation.