Divorce is the most stressful situation, legal or otherwise, that most will ever face. I have been divorced. The stress and uncertainty can be overwhelming. I understand your concerns. Let me take this chance to explain the process.

A divorce is a public lawsuit to dissolve a marriage

When you file for divorce you are asking the court to dissolve your marriage, and address and resolve all property and custody issues. The pleadings are on file at the courthouse and most are available to the public.

Grounds for divorce

Texas allows for “no fault” divorces on the basis unsupportability. That is, a discord or conflict of personalities destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation. There are also statutory grounds that may be pled including:

  • Adultery
  • Cruel treatment
  • Abandonment (for at least one year with the intent to abandon)
  • Long-term incarceration (more than one year)
  • Confinement to a mental hospital for at least 3 years
  • Living apart for at least 3 years.
Who can file for a Texas divorce?

Texas law requires that before a party may file a divorce they must be a resident of Texas for 6 months, and a resident of the county in which the case is filed for 90 days.

How does a divorce begin?

Divorces begin with the filing of a “petition” with the district clerk. The petition will state the names of the parties, identify the children, and list the grounds for divorce. Dallas and Kaufman have standing orders for each divorce case. The orders address limit behavior of each party while the case is pending. For example, a common restraint is that the parties will not terminate the utilities at the house, destroy mail, or threaten the other party.

How long does a divorce take?

Depends. Texas requires a 60 day “cooling off” period before a divorce can be finalized. If the parties reach a settlement quickly there is no reason a divorce can not be finished soon after the 60 day deadline. On the other end of the spectrum a contested or complicated divorces can take many months, or years even.

Temporary Orders Hearing

Courts recognize that parties can not wait months, or years, to settle custody and property issues. Therefore, a temporary orders hearing may be necessary. If the parties can not reach an agreement on these important issues then the judge will rule on who gets what, while the case is pending. At a temporary orders hearing both parties present evidence and the judge decides who gets custody, who pays child support (and how much), who gets the house, and who pays the bills. Many TO hearings are held within 30 days of a divorce being filed.

On Settlement

As your attorney I am your agent. I want what you want. Your goals, are my goals. However, my happiest family law clients are those who have finalized their case. All settlements take compromise, and I advise my clients to factor in the benefit of finality when deciding to accept an offer. I never press my clients to take a bad offer, but I can tell you when there is little to be gained from further litigation. Sometimes the best move is to finish and move on with your life.

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