How Texas Divorce Works
Guidance from an Experienced Austin Family Law Attorney
Please remember that each and every divorce is different. You should seek the advice of an attorney. Please do not take the following as specific advice particular to your situation. Please feel free to contact our office to schedule a consultation.
Residency requirements. Before filing for divorce, one spouse must be a domiciliary (resident) of Texas for six months and a resident of the county which you are filing for at least 90 days.
Filing of Petition for Divorce with the District Clerk of the county in which you or your spouse resides. In Travis County, your case will be assigned to one particular court with a 'rotating' judge to hear contested matters. In Williamson County, your case will be assigned to either a district court or one of three county courts at law (the same judge will hear all matters involving your case). The petition will contain certain information regarding marital property, children of the marriage, and the grounds for divorce.
Service (Delivering the petition to your spouse). This can be accomplished by law enforcement, a private process server, or, in amicable situations, having your spouse execute a Wavier of Service. If you seeking a Temporary Restraining Order, you will have to have the TRO and Petition personally served upon your spouse.
Temporary Orders hearing. Generally, there is a need for the court to set "the ground rules" during the divorce. Temporary orders may "freeze" the marital estate, determine which spouse shall remain in the family home, custody and access to the children, child support, and the maintenance of the marital estate (payment of bills, etc.) These temporary orders are just that - temporary - until superseded by further order of the court.
Discovery. Discovery is the process where the parties learn information relevant to the divorce. Common discovery methods are written questions (interrogatories), preparation of inventories, production and inspection of documents, and depositions. The discovery process assists your lawyer in your case, allowing for full disclosure of particular facts, such as income and liabilities of the parties, value of certain assets, and facts relevant to child custody and support. There are a variety of ways to conduct discovery, and each method is particularized for your unique situation.
Mediation & Settlement Negotiation. Once the discovery process is near completion, Travis and Williamson County courts mandate that you attend mediation. Mediation is the process where a third party mediator facilitates a possible settlement to the issues surrounding your case. On occasion, your attorney and your spouse's attorney can informally negotiate your case to an agreed resolution. These tools allow the parties to be in direct control of the outcome of their case, bypassing the court's involvement and minimizing the overall cost of the case.
Trial. If there is no agreement between the parties, then the case will be ultimately decided by a judge or jury
Prove up & closing documents. Once the divorce decree language is finalized and agreed upon by all parties involved, one party then attends court to "prove up" the decree - finalizing the divorce. Once the divorce is finalized, other closing documents must be prepared, such as deeds to effectuate the transfer of property and Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) to divide retirement benefits.
If you wish to file for divorce in Williamson, Travis or Hayes County, or Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown, Pflugerville, Leander, Buda or Kyle, Texas, please contact us as soon as possible.