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How Texas Divorce Works Guidance From Experienced Attorneys

How Texas Divorce Works

Guidance from an Experienced Austin Family Law Attorney

Divorce is always different, though some of the same rules may apply, divorce is a different process for every couple. Moreover, divorce can be one of the most difficult and complex legal situations someone can find themselves in because of the obvious personal stake someone might have in the case. Because of this it is important that you contact a lawyer you trust immediately following your decision to get divorced.

Divorce Timeline in Texas

In Texas, a divorce is not final for at least 60 days after a petition is filed. It typically takes about six months to one year or longer to finalize a divorce, depending on the complexity of the issues and the degree of conflict.

Always remember that divorce can only be filed if one individual participating in the divorce has lived in the state for 6 months and in the county for at least 90 days:

  • First Step - Filing of Petition for Divorce - This must be filed with the District Clerk in the county that where you reside. 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). Petitions typically have information, including: children, property, and reason for divorcing.
  • Second Step - Service - Commonly referred to as "being served", this is the legal process of informing a spouse that you are seeking a legal divorce in the marriage. If you seeking a Temporary Restraining Order, you will have to have the TRO and Petition personally served upon your spouse.
  • Third Step - Temporary Orders hearing - At times, the court sets "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 These temporary orders are just that - temporary - until superseded by further order of the court.
  • Fourth Step - Discovery - At the onset of a divorce a couple will be forced to take a complete inventory of their personal belongings and all relevant documents. Discovery typically involves questions to discover the full extent of the marriages assets and other relevant information. This becomes the most unique part of any divorce at it has to do with each couples unique situation regarding all aspects of the marriage. A qualified attorney will review all relevant materials, including matters involving children, and begin assessing the best method through which you may divide responsibility and wealth.
  • Fifth Step - Mediation & Settlement Negotiation - Once the discovery process is near completion, Travis and Williamson County courts order that you attend mediation. Mediation being the process in which outside legal counsel finds a common ground between the two parties to begin finalizing the divorce. At times, your attorney and your spouse's attorney can informally negotiate your case to reach an agreement. 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.
  • Sixth Step - Trial - If there is no agreement between the parties, then the case will be decided by a jury or judge.
  • Seventh Step - Prove up & closing documents - Once all parties that were involved in the divorce proceedings agree on the terms of the divorce, one of the individuals divorcing must go to courrt and "prove up" the paper work. Once the divorce is finalized, other closing documents must be prepared, such as Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) to divide the retirement benefits and deeds to begin the transfer of property.

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.