Our priority at The Law Office of Gloria E. López is to be there through the entire process of your divorce
Our goal is to educate and advise you so that you make the best decisions for you and your family. There is so much that goes into the divorce process such as: conservatorships, child support, medical support, division of community property, and division of community debt.
A divorce can be finalized by mutual agreement of the parties, through mediation, or after trial.
Filing a divorce is a very difficult decision. For many, a divorce comes with fear, resentment, and sadness. In fact, a lot of these emotions can affect your judgment during a divorce. In addition to the emotional side of a divorce, there are a lot of financial consequences that may arise. This is exactly why you need to contact Attorney López to obtain a consultation. She will protect you and guide you during the entire divorce proceeding.
Uncontested Divorce vs Contested Divorce
An uncontested divorce requires that both parties be 100% in agreement with everything related to the Divorce Decree. This includes: the reason for the divorce, conservatorship, child support, medical support, possession and access, and distribution of property and debt. Should the parties disagree on one or more of these issues; the divorce will become a “contested divorce.” An uncontested divorce is the cheapest and fastest way to obtain a divorce.
Stages of a Contested Divorce:
In order to obtain jurisdiction to file a Petition for Divorce you must have lived in Texas for a minimum of six (6) months and ninety (90) days in the County where the divorced will be filed. It does not matter where the marriage occurred. A Petition for Divorce is potentially five lawsuits in one:
(1) a suit for the dissolution of the marriage,
(2) a suit to divide the property of the marriage,
(3) a suit for spousal maintenance,
(4) a suit affecting the parent-child relationship, and
(5) a suit for any inter spousal or third-party tort or contract actions.
The Petition for Divorce includes important information regarding the marriage, community property, separate property, child “custody”, child support, child medical support, and spousal support. The Petition does not need to include specific evidentiary facts; however, one must plead grounds substantially in the language of the statute. Texas law requires that a petition for divorce remain on file for a minimum of sixty (60) days prior to finalizing the divorce.
A Temporary Restraining Order is usually requested with a Petition for Divorce. The Temporary Restraining Order is an order signed by the Judge without notice or hearing. The usual purpose of a Temporary Restraining Order is to maintain status quo (i.e. to “freeze” everything until a hearing can be held so that a judge can listen to evidence and make his or her decision).
During the pendency of a suit for divorce, the parties may request relief relating to the property of the parties and protection of the parties from the court, and the court may grant such relief as deemed equitable and necessary. On the motion of a party, after notice and hearing, the court may render an appropriate order, including:
- Temporary injunctions for the preservation of assets and protection of the parties;
- Temporary orders for spousal support;
- Temporary orders for the payment of community debt;
- Orders for interim attorney’s fees and expenses;
- Discovery orders and an order setting the deadline for the filing of the parties’ sworn inventories;
- Order for appraisal of assets;
- Orders for temporary conservatorship of the child;
- Orders for the temporary support of the child;
- Order retraining a party from disturbing the peace of the child or another party;
- Orders prohibiting a person from removing the child beyond a geographical area identified by the court;
- Orders for payment of reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses;
- Orders for psychological evaluation of the parties, relative to the issues of conservatorship and possession of the children;
- Orders for preparation of a social study, relative to the issues of conservatorship of, possession of, and access to the children; and
- Orders for appointments of representative for child in a conservatorship dispute.
Discovery is a process where each party is allowed an opportunity to ask questions and request documentation from the other side. Discovery allows a fair division of property as it forces each party to disclose all assets and liabilities. The permissible forms of discovery are:
- Request for Disclosure;
- Request for Production and Inspection of Documents;
- Requests and Motion for Entry on and examination of Real Property;
- Requests for Admissions;
- Oral and/or Written Depositions; and
- Motions for mental or physical examination.
Most counties require the parties to attend Mediation prior to commencing Trial. In some cases, the Court requires the parties to attend mediation prior to ANY hearing before the Judge.
Mediation is a process where the parties and their attorneys meet with a neutral third party (mediator) to see if the parties can come to an agreement. Everything that is said at mediation is confidential. During Trial neither party can testify about what was offered or said at mediation. Usually, the mediator will have you and your attorney in one room and your spouse and spouse’s attorney in another room.
The mediator will shuttle back and forth trying to understands the facts, conveying offers, and offering suggestions. If the case is settled at mediation, the mediated settlement agreement is irrevocable and binding and not subject to change. If a party signs off on a mediated settlement agreement and has regrets, they are still bound by the agreement.
The Court is obligated to follow the terms of the mediated settlement agreement and enforce said agreement (with narrow exceptions). If the case is not settled at mediation, the mediator can only write the Court a letter stating the parties reached an impasse.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement at mediation, the parties will have to go to trial. In Texas, you can request a Jury Trial or Bench Trial. A Bench Trial is held before the Judge (No Jury). The Judge will ultimately render a decision based on the testimony and evidence offered at trial.