Divorce in Texas
Texas is what is commonly referred to as a “No Fault Divorce State”. That is, while there are several grounds on which a divorce could be granted by the courts, including cruelty, adultery, abandonment, etc., there is no need to prove any of these to get divorced. It is only necessary to prove that the marriage is “insupportable” because of discord between the parties to the marriage such that it has destroyed the legitimate marriage relationship and that there is no reasonable expectation that the parties would reconcile even if the Court did not grant the divorce. Accordingly, the burden of proof to get divorced in Texas is relatively low.
The lawyers at Tucker Law Firm, PLLC can help guide you through the decision making process to determine if it is in your best interest to seek a “No Fault” divorce or seek a divorce on other grounds. The lawyers at Tucker Law Firm, PLLC have the experience, judgement, and discernment to help you make the best decision for you and your family.
Following are several of the common stages involved in every divorce case:
1. Separation- Texas does not recognize legal separation. In other words, in Texas you are married until the Court enters a Final Decree of Divorce dissolving the marriage relationship. However, it is common for spouses to stop living as spouses prior to the filing of the divorce petition. This could mean that they are living in separate residences or separate parts of the marital home.
2. Filing of an Original Petition for Divorce - this is the document that starts the divorce process and is generally the first pleading that is filed in a divorce lawsuit. This documents contains the names fo the parties, the names and ages of any children of the marriage, a statement of the basis on which the divorce is sought as well as the basis on which the filing party seeks to have the marital property divided. The Original Petition for Divorce also will generally contain a request for the Court to enter Temporary Orders if that is appropriate.
3. Temporary Orders- Temporary Orders are orders that are entered by the Court to control the actions of the parties during the pendency of the divorce. These orders can dictate which of the spouses will be entitled to temporary use of the marital residence and other property, temporary custody of the children of the marriage and the payment of child support as well as any other orders that the court deems necessary to manage the conduct of the parties during the pendency of the divorce. As a general rule, especially if there are children involved, these orders are intended to maintain the status quo so that there is as little disruption of the children’s lives as necessary. In Montgomery County, generally all of the Family Law Courts require the parties to attend Mediation prior to having a contested hearing on Temporary Orders.
4. Mediation- Mediation is known as one of several types of “Alternative Dispute Resolution” processes. It involves the participation of a neutral third party mediator whose job is to help the parties reach an agreed resolution of their disputes. It is generally considered a preferred method of resolving disputes and is particularly useful in the Family Law context because it gives both parties some control of the outcome of their case and the orders that could effect their family for years to come. Although mediation is required in most cases, the parties are not required to reach a settlement in mediation and the mediator has no decision making authority. Whether or not to settle the case is left entirely to the parties and their attorneys.
5. Discovery- Discovery is the information gathering phase of a lawsuit, including a lawsuit involving Family Law. This is a process that is governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure as well as the Local Rules promulgated by the Courts in many Counties, including Montgomery County, Texas. The discovery process involves the use of statutorily authorized tools consisting of Written Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents and Tangible Things, Requests for Disclosure, Requests for Admission and Oral Depositions. The discovery process is generally the most time consuming and expensive phase of any litigation including Family Law. The lawyers at Tucker Law Firm, PLLC are experienced in the use and utilization of all of the tools of discovery and possess knowledge of the rules that govern those rules. We can provide you with guidance concerning the most cost effective means of obtaining information and use of the discovery process to ensure that you have the information you need to make informed decisions about your case while at the same time containing costs that could otherwise become uncontrollable.
6. Final Trial- After the discovery process is completed and generally after a second mediation, the case may be taken to trial before a judge or jury. As a general rule the Courts in Montgomery County will issue a scheduling order that sets a trial date and deadlines for all of the required steps of the pre-trial process. Trial before a judge or jury is often the most stressful and risky part of the litigation process. The lawyers at Tucker Law Firm, PLLC have extensive trial advocacy experience in managing and trying complex cases.
7. Appeal- In the event that the trial does not result in a favorable outcome for you, then there is always the possibility that the judge or jury’s decision could be appealed to a higher court. The appellate courts in Texas that hear Family Law cases include the Court of Appeals (specifically, the 9th District Court of Appeals for Montgomery County cases) and the Supreme Court of Texas. The appellate process requires strict adherence to certain deadlines and filing requirements. The lawyers at Tucker Law Firm, PLLC have the knowledge and experience to guide you through the appellate process.