What Is the Divorce Process in Texas?
The divorce process in Texas depends on the kind of divorce you’re talking about. For example, in some circumstances, an uncontested divorce might be the best way to go, for other people divorce mediation or collaborative divorce might be best. For others, the only way to get restitution is for a court to impose one, and divorce litigation would be the option these people would choose.
In this video, Fort Bend County Divorce Attorney Vonda Covington outlines the divorce process for the common types of divorce in Texas. This information is intended as legal education. You should always talk with an experienced divorce attorney for legal advice tailored to the facts of your situation.
Summary of the Divorce Process in Texas Video
– Hi, I’m Vonda Covington, and I want to talk to you about the divorce process in Texas, options for getting divorced and the process for each of those options. One of the things that you need to ask yourself is, how hard is it going to be to get an agreement once you guys have all the information that you need in order to reach an educated decision on whatever issues you have?
The Difficulty of Reaching Agreement May Determine the Divorce Process
There are a certain number of issues that need to be resolved in order to get a divorce. They get divided into property issues and parenting issues. If you don’t have kids, it simplifies it because you’ve got about half the problem. If you have kids, it helps if you really focus on what’s best for the kids, and getting through this process in a way that allows mom and dad to remain co-parents.
So all of that being said, what is the divorce process for getting divorced? The traditional divorce process is litigation, which is inherently adversarial. It’s me against him, and that’s just the way the system is set up. Now there are times whenever litigation is absolutely necessary. But because it’s so costly and because it’s so hurtful, I think it should probably be the last resort, rather than the first try.
Uncontested Divorce Process
In order of invasiveness, the least invasive way to get divorced is an uncontested divorce. Husband and wife reach an agreement as to all the issues that need to be resolved for a divorce decree to be written. One of them brings that agreement to an attorney, the attorney files the petition on behalf of that person, and then drafts the decree, drafts whatever other supporting documents need to be drafted, and drafts the waiver.
The attorney send all those documents to the other spouse. The other spouse reviews them, should probably take them to an attorney and go over them, and then if everything is the way it should be, if it represents the agreement, they sign it, send it back to the first attorney.
The first attorney and his client go down to the courthouse for a short hearing and prove up the divorce. So that’s when you’ve already basically got an agreement.
A lot of people will hire me to do an uncontested divorce for them, assuming they’re going to get an agreement. And they can often do that. It usually costs a little bit more, because I get involved in advising them as they’re working on an agreement. But in the end, they reach an agreement with their spouse.
We get a decree that both of them agree to, we get supporting documents both of them agree to, and then one morning early, my client and I go down to the courthouse and prove the divorce, that’s the uncontested divorce.
The Early Intervention Divorce Mediation Process
The next step would probably be early intervention divorce mediation, where the parties are pretty close to an agreement but they can’t quite, without some outside help, get an agreement. They go to a mediator, the mediator helps them get an agreement, and then one party hires an attorney to draft the documents, which is just like an uncontested. For more information about divorce mediation, please watch Vonda’s mediation video.
The Collaborative Divorce Process
So the next level of invasiveness, in my mind, would be to hire two collaborative divorce law attorneys, who can evaluate the case and see if it needs to go full-blown collaborative divorce or if a couple of settlement conferences would be sufficient.
The husband hires one attorney, the wife hires another attorney, we might have one joint settlement conference with husband and wife there. And then, we decide whether or not a couple of settlement conferences is going to be sufficient. A lot of times it is, and then you don’t have to go into the full-blown formality of collaborative law.
Next on that list would be collaborative divorce law. Husband and wife are nowhere close to an agreement. They can’t agree on much anything, but both of them would be very very happy to negotiate in good faith, and both of them prefer to reach an agreement than go to court and beat each other up. For situations like that, we have collaborative law.
Each party hires a collaborative law attorney, we get into the collaborative divorce process, and I’m not even going to begin to try to explain that in depth here, because that’s a whole different video.
But once we’re in the collaborative divorce process, we go through that process, reach an agreement, everybody signs off on that agreement, and then one or both parties goes and proves it up as in an uncontested divorce.
Litigation Divorce Process
If you can’t get an agreement in collaborative law or collaborative law is inappropriate for one reason or another, then to me the last stop is litigation. And there are times when litigation is not only appropriate, but entirely necessary to protect my client’s rights.
Many, many times, we can use other methods than litigation, but there are times when there’s just really no choice. With litigation in divorce, one party hires an attorney to represent them in court, the other party hires an attorney to represent them in court.
We usually start with temporary orders, that govern while the divorce is pending. Who’s going to live where, how are bills going to be paid, where are the kids going to live, how are the parenting issues going to be handled, what kind of parenting times do we arrange, all of that kind of stuff. Those are temporary orders, and brings you up to the time that the divorce actually is final.
Discovery Is Part of the Litigation Divorce Process
During that period that the divorce is pending, we also do formal discovery. In collaborative law, we gather all the documents, we get all the information.
In litigation, we do discovery in a process that is more work-intensive for the attorneys; it’s also work-intensive for the clients. And we try to make sure that we get everything.
So we do discovery, we send out written discovery, we don’t do that in collaborative law, but that’s how we get the information in a contested case that requires litigation. We may take depositions, we don’t need to do that in collaborative law, though there are times when we can, and that’s really not a no-no, it’s just not something that we often need to do.
Once discovery is finished in litigation, the court requires us to go to mediation, see if we can reach an agreement. If we can’t reach an agreement in mediation, we gear up for trial, and we go to trial.
Those are the different divorce processes that are available out there for people to get divorced.
Contact Us to Identify the Best Divorce Process for You
The best divorce process for you and your spouse depends on the facts of your situation and your ability to reach agreements with your spouse. Let the experienced, caring divorce attorney at Covington Law Firm help you evaluate those facts and the law to determine the best path forward. Call us at (281) 503-7373 or send us an email through our contact form.