While divorce can be difficult, it can also mean a new beginning for you. Our attorneys can help you.
Although many people will get a divorce sometime in their lifetime it can be difficult to determine how to get a divorce. Some divorces are very simple, but a divorce can also be a very complicated lawsuit.
A divorce action is potentially five lawsuits in one:
- (1) a suit for the dissolution of the marriage
- (2) a suit for division of property
- (3) a suit for spousal maintenance
- (4) a suit affecting the parent-child relationship
- (5) a suit for any interspousal or third party tort or contract actions.
Resolving all issues requires some looking into the future. It is best for the final Decree of Divorce to address as many matters as possible to avoid the necessity of future litigation. Also, some issues cannot be modified later so they must be resolved correctly in the original suit. For these reasons, it is often best to get the help of an experienced family lawyer.
Filing for Petition
The party filing for a divorce must file a Petition. The filing party is referred to as the Petitioner. The Petition is a document that states the names of the people that are getting divorced, jurisdictional claims, the grounds for divorce, whether there are children involved, property division issues, and the relief sought. This is the document that gets the divorce started. The document is filed in the county where either party has lived for at least ninety days. Also, one of the parties has to have lived in Texas for the past six months.
There are three no-fault grounds for divorce:
- (1) insupportability
- (2) the spouses’ living apart for three years and
- (3) the respondent’s confinement in a mental hospital for three years.
Additionally, there are four fault grounds for divorce:
- (1) cruelty
- (2) adultery
- (3) the respondent’s conviction of a felony
- (4) the respondent’s abandonment of the petitioner for one year.
After the Divorce is Filed
After the divorce is filed the clerk will issue a citation which must be served upon the other party, referred to as the Respondent. This gives that party notice of the pendency of the divorce. The Respondent may then file an Answer to the Petition. In this document the Respondent will claim any defenses to the action, any denials of claims in the Petition, and any claims the Respondent has against the Petitioner.
After these initial pleadings are filed there may be a hearing for temporary orders. This is when a court enters orders to stabilize everything during the pendency of the divorce action. The temporary orders generally focus on preserving property and, if children are involved, the temporary orders state with whom the children will reside, when visitation will occur and how much child support will be, if any.
During the next phase of the divorce the parties will conduct discovery. During discovery the parties are required to produce documents to each other and may even give depositions. Property is valued and home studies may be conducted if custody of children is an unresolved issue. How much discovery is needed depends on how involved the case is.
Settlement and Trial
During this phase of the case, many divorces will settle. Settlement occurs through a number of methods. Collaborative procedures provide the parties with a team of professionals which may include legal counsel for each party, a family counselor, a financial advisor, and any other professionals needed to resolve the issues involved. Many cases also settle through mediation. This is a process whereby the issues are discussed and a mediator works with both parties to try to reach a settlement of the issues. The vast majority of cases settle during the discovery stage through informal settlement discussions as the parties focus on what is really important for them. The remainder of the cases go to trial.
A divorce must be on file for at least sixty days before a divorce can be granted. How long it takes to get a divorce after the sixty day waiting period is up to the parties. Whether the case is settled or goes to trial the end of the divorce comes with the filing of a Decree of Divorce. This is the document that resolves all of the issues. This document is very important and should be drafted very carefully by a skilled divorce lawyer. It takes a certain amount of future thinking to anticipate what all situations might arise and how they should be resolved. The more precise the Decree of Divorce the less likely future litigation is.
Divorce can be difficult not only in the steps it takes to resolve with the legal system, but also emotionally. It can be good to have someone on your side that has been through the battle many times before. If we can help in any way, please do not hesitate to call us. With our phone consultation one of our expert attorneys can talk to you about how to make this an easier process so that you can move on