What is the Process of Getting a Divorce in Texas?

If you’re thinking of initiating a divorce or you’ve been served with divorce papers, you’re facing life altering changes and a very stressful time.  You need a divorce lawyer who is on your side and also someone who can be a trusted advisor.  One who listens to your concerns, understands the difficulties you’ve been living with and can turn that understanding into a view of where you’d like to be in the future.

Michael Von Blon has handled hundreds of divorce cases in his 30 plus years of practice in Houston.  Mike is Board Certified in Family Law with the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; this means that Mike has the distinct experience that many lawyers don’t possess.  Many clients will never have to step foot into a courtroom for a contested hearing. In these cases, Mike uses his first-rate negotiating skills to arrive at a settlement that’s in your favor. If a negotiated settlement isn’t possible, Mike’s long history of trial experience will ensure that you have the best representation.

Mike has handled many types of divorce matters, from amicable separations to contested divorces, divorces with modest asset portfolios to high net-worth estates, and high conflict divorces where custody of children are involved.  Most importantly, you’ll have a lawyer who’ll listen to you and work with you to develop a strategy to deal with a difficult situation. You’ll feel a sense of relief knowing that you can get through the proceedings and move on with your life.

Are You Thinking About Divorce and Don’t Know How to Proceed?

After marital counseling has failed, what steps do you need to take to prepare for divorce?


BEFORE telling your spouse you are going to file for divorce, you should do the following:

  1. Make sure your email account is secure.  If not, obtain a private email account that is password protected from your spouse.

  2. Make a list of all bank accounts, investment and retirement accounts, and confirm you know your user ID and passwords to access the accounts;

  3. Research names of board-certified attorneys, and meet with at least two. You want to be comfortable not only with their legal knowledge, but also with their ability to listen to you and represent you in the manner you deem appropriate. That attorney may also give you advice that is vital for you to follow prior to filing for divorce.

  4. Hire the attorney that meets that criteria.  Out of over 100,000 attorneys licensed in Texas, only 7,200 are board certified in some specialized area of law, which means even less are board certified in family law. 

When Do I Know My Divorce is Final?

The bottom line when it comes to divorce is the entry of a Divorce Decree. If you and your spouse, with the assistance of your divorce lawyers, can come to an amicable split when it comes to the house, the kids, the investments and the debt, then it can take as little as 61 days. In Texas, there is a mandatory 60 day waiting period after you file for divorce.

Ending a marriage doesn’t have to be a long drawn out and costly process. In fact, many of these matters never end up in court. It really depends on your willingness to work with your spouse to iron out all the specifics, and your spouse’s willingness to do the same.
 

What Can I Expect When Going Through a Divorce?

The following are the general stages in most divorce proceedings:

  • Filing of the divorce petition

  • Attending mediation, which is mandatory in most cases and/or preparing for a hearing to obtain temporary orders

  • Discovery stage

  • Attending mediation prior to a final trial

  • Trial, if mediation is unsuccessful

Filing the Divorce Petition

Without a doubt, a lot of serious thought has been put into your decision to file for divorce. Surprisingly, the act of filing for divorce is quite simple. First, you’d research and find an appropriate lawyer to represent you, and second, you’d discuss your intentions with that attorney. You’ll likely have conversations with your lawyer to advise them of the details of your marriage and what you’re looking for when you move on from married life.

The lawyer would then draw up the divorce citation, file it with the court and serve your spouse with the citation. “Serve” is a legal term which describes the physical step of ensuring that the divorce citation is delivered and put in the hands of your spouse. Most likely, your lawyer will use a “Private Process Server”, a person or company, to ensure that your spouse receives the citation in a way that is acceptable to the court. It’s the critical first step in your divorce.

Mediation and Obtaining Temporary Orders 

Most courts will require you to go to mediation prior to allowing a court hearing for temporary orders.  What are temporary orders and why do I need them?

Temporary orders are signed by the judge and are designed to remove the uncertainty of issues that arise while your divorce case is pending.  Temporary orders may determine:

  • Who has the primary care of your children?

  • What amount of parenting time the other parent has with the children?

  • Who pays child support? What is the amount of support?

  • Who gets temporary use of the marital residence?

  • How are bills to be paid, and by whom, while the temporary order is in effect? and

  • Whether certain injunctions should be imposed.

 

In some cases, you’ll need a specific injunction to prevent your spouse from behaving in a certain manner. For example, if your spouse has an addiction to alcohol or other drugs, you might want an injunction preventing him or her from having unsupervised access to the children, or from at least driving the children. Another example might be if your spouse has a dual citizenship and you are fearful the he or she might flee out of the country with the children, then you might want an order enjoining him or her from traveling internationally with the children.

You need temporary orders so that each party to the divorce action knows what is expected of them, to minimize confusion and distrust, and to provide as much stability and certainty for your children as possible during this traumatic stage in theirs and your life.

If your attorney is unable to informally obtain an agreement with your spouse’s attorney, then you’ll attend mediation with your attorney. The attorneys, through their experience, often choose a third-party mediator who they believe is best suited for the issues and personalities involved.  The mediator is usually a family law attorney who has additional training as a mediator.  In most mediations, you and your attorney will be in one room and your spouse and the other attorney will be in another room, with the mediator going between rooms attempting to facilitate an agreement. You may never see your spouse during mediation.

If you’re successful at mediation, then there will be a “Mediated Settlement Agreement” signed at mediation by all parties and their attorneys.  It’s important for you to understand that this is a binding and irrevocable agreement that you can’t back out of. Once that is done, a court order will be drafted that expands upon the agreement into an enforceable order which is then presented to the Judge for signature. 

 

If mediation is unsuccessful, then you will proceed to a court hearing on a date to be determined thereafter. At this time, each side will be allowed to call witnesses and present evidence deemed important and relevant to the issues identified at the temporary order hearing. However, unlike a final trial, most courts severely limit the time allowed to present evidence to support whatever relief you are requesting the judge to grant you in an order.  That is why you need an experienced family law attorney.  Once the hearing is concluded, the judge will issue the temporary orders that will be in effect during your divorce case.

Discovery Stage

Once the temporary orders are entered, your case enters the discovery stage.  This stage is designed to narrow the issues, to get the other side to commit to a certain position so they can’t change their position at trial, to reveal weaknesses in the other side’s case and to generally get your case in a position so you’ll prevail at the final mediation or trial on the major disputed issues.

 

Discovery can be in many forms.  It may be directed to:
 

  • Obtaining financial records to prove the values of an asset;

  • Determine who the owner is of an asset;

  • If a party wasted assets on a significant other or on gambling;

  • Whether one has an addiction issue;

  • Determining fault in the break-up of the marriage; and/or

  • Issues relative to which parent is most suitable to have primary care of the children.

 

With all of this information in hand, you and your attorney can then develop a strategy for your divorce trial. This is why it’s critical that you speak to a divorce attorney like Mike Von Blon, an attorney with experience in and out of the courtroom.

Attending Mediation or Trial

Once the discovery stage is completed, you will be required to attend mediation. This mediation can be more intense and last longer than the first because the issues now being addressed are any issues that have not been resolved and that may potentially have life-long ramifications.

 

These may include:

  • Who has primary care of the children? Commonly referred to by lay persons as “Who has Custody”, although that term is not really a legal term;

  • What parenting time a parent may have with the children;

  • Amount of child support to be paid;

  • Whether spousal maintenance is to be paid and, if so, what amount and how long will the payments be in effect;

  • How the assets and debts are to be divided?

 

In order to finalize the dissolution of marriage, the judge needs to approve an agreed divorce decree, if an agreement was reached.  If not, then the judge will render an order after hearing all the testimony and reviewing all the evidence. Your lawyers will draw this decree up for you.

 

The judge will then need to verify that;

  • You or your spouse meet the residency requirements;

  • Your spouse was properly served with the divorce citation;

  • That you were in fact married;

  • You are the biological parents of the children or they were adopted (and that neither spouse are the parents of a child born outside of the marriage relationship during the marriage) and

  • The divorce decree has all the necessary provisions.

 

Once approved by a judge your divorce is final.  Hiring the right attorney will give you peace of mind as you make your way through the divorce process. Call family lawyer Michael Von Blon today to discuss your circumstances 713-681-5288 or send a message on the contact form.

DISCLAIMER

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

The LAW OFFICES OF MICHAEL P. VON BLON proudly serves clients throughout Texas, including Houston, Pasadena, Galveston, Beaumont, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Baytown, Texas City, League City, Pearland, Richmond, Conroe, The Woodlands, Rosenberg, Katy, Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Waller County, Austin County, Montgomery County and Washington County.

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