Divorce Basics Attorney in Round Rock, Texas

How does the divorce process work in Texas?

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When a client initially hires me or meets with me, I immediately almost 100 percent of the time give a client what I refer to as my divorce 101 spiel. So the divorce process in Texas begins when a petition is filed. Typically, the person who files a petition will then serve the other party and from that point, you have open divorce litigation. There are two parts of a divorce in Texas and ultimately, your divorce will end with a divorce decree. And in that divorce decree if you have children, you’re required to have a suit affecting a parent-child relationship in that decree, an order regarding that, and then, an order regarding a property division. The negotiation portion of the divorce litigation primarily discusses those two topics, the suit effect in the parent-child relationship and the property division.

In Texas, the suit affecting the parent-child relationship has three parts of it, a conservatorship part, possession and access, and child support. Child support also includes medical support of a child, which is how the child’s medical insurance and healthcare is going to get paid for. The decree, ultimately, the decree whether it’s come to by a negotiation or whether the decree is come to by court order, the court ordering it, will have those three portions in it.

And then, on the flip side, you have the property division, which is also contained in the divorce decree. In Texas, typically, starts out with what we call a 50-50 property division of the community assets and debts. And your community assets are anything that was acquired while you were married and so, when we’re talking about a 50-50 property division what we’re talking about is the bottom line being each party gets 50 percent of the community assets and debts. Now that can be affected by a host of factors and the court can surely decide that that’s not what we call fair and equitable, which in Texas that’s the standard is what’s fair? And so, you can see how that could be modified or changed throughout the divorce litigation.

Now there are a couple of ways that you get to a court order, one of them is through negotiation, which often involves mediation or some other alternative dispute resolution, which can be informal settlement. Typically, we don’t do arbitration but t’s becoming a more popular way of deciding divorces. But typically, it’s either informal settlement or mediation and I think I’ve talked to some of the other attorneys in the office and we all agree that if it’s possible to come to an agreement by a negotiation, that’s definitely best for your life and probably for your family.

And so, the other way that you can achieve a divorce decree or get a court order is the court orders it. You go to court and you explain your case to the judge through your attorneys or not through your attorneys if you don’t have counsel, and the judge decides. And the judge usually listens to a few hours of testimony and makes some pretty sweeping decisions about how much time you’re going to be spending with your kids and who’s going to have what retirement accounts and the house and that kind of thing. Which, you know, we definitely are prepared for litigation but it’s a last resort, it’s where we end up last.

So that process getting to a divorce decree can take at minimum, typically, 60 days. In Texas you have to wait 60 days to get your divorce decree stamped by the judge if everything is by agreement or I mean some divorces last two, three years if there’s complex property issues or complex child custody issues where there’s third parties involved in those decisions.

Austin, TX family law attorney Jessica Houghtby explains how the divorce process works in Texas.

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