What Happens in a Divorce?
A divorce is one of life’s most difficult decisions. If you are considering filing for legal separation or divorce, it helps to know what happens during the process. You will want to consider whether you want to file for legal separation or divorce. This decision depends on many factors including how long you have been married, where you live, and what assets you have accumulated over the course of your marriage. Once you decide, there are several steps involved in the process.
You must fill out forms. These include the petition form, affidavits, financial disclosure statements, property division agreement, and child custody agreement. Your spouse may also file a response to your petition.
The court will set a hearing date. A judge will hear both sides present evidence and arguments. At the end of the hearing, the judge will make a ruling. Then, he or she will issue a written judgment.
If you choose to go to mediation, the mediator will help you reach a settlement. Afterward, the mediator will prepare a detailed report about your case.
Your attorney in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, will review the report and advise you regarding the best way forward. Contact us today at Thorntonesquirelawgroup for a free consultation.
Depending on the circumstances, your attorney will provide advice about filing for legal separation or divorcing. He or she may recommend that you wait until your spouse becomes unemployed or loses significant income before taking action.Filing the Divorce Petition
The first step in getting divorced is filing a legal petition asking the courts to end the marriage. In most states, a petitioner must show why the marriage should be terminated. This document is called a "divorce complaint." If the petitioner lives in another state, he or she must provide proof of residency in that state.
States usually require at least one party to reside in the state for some period of time before filing the petition. Some states require both parties to live there for a certain amount of time before filing the complaint. Other states allow either spouse to file the petition while living outside the state.
Residency requirements vary depending on whether it is a contested case or uncontested. Uncontested cases are those in which both parties consent to the dissolution of the marriage. Contested cases involve divorces in which at least one party objects to the divorce.
In contested cases, the petitioner must meet the residency requirement within three months of filing the petition. In uncontested cases, the petitioner does not have to establish residency. However, if the respondent lives out of state, the petitioner must notify him or her about the pending action.Asking for Temporary Orders
Divorce is often a long process. You might find yourself asking the court for temporary orders while you wait for a decision on your case. These temporary orders allow you to protect your interests during the pendency of the divorce. They do not affect the outcome of the divorce proceeding, nor does the court make permanent decisions about child custody, child support, or alimony. Instead, they provide protection for both parties.
Temporary orders are granted by the court without a hearing. This means that there is no formal presentation of evidence. However, you must present some type of proof that you are entitled to receive temporary relief. In most cases, the court will accept affidavits from either party stating what needs to happen. There is generally no requirement for written statements.
If you are requesting temporary orders, the court will require you to submit a sworn statement, called an affidavit, describing why you believe you deserve temporary relief. You will also need to describe the reasons why you think it is necessary to obtain temporary relief.
You can request temporary orders for child custody, visitation, child support, spousal maintenance, marital debts, spousal support, attorney fees, insurance coverage, health care coverage, retirement benefits, life insurance policies, real estate, and personal property.
The court will issue a temporary order based on the facts presented in the affidavit. Once the court issues the temporary order, you can apply to modify it within 30 days.Serve Your Spouse and Wait for a Response
When you filed for divorce, you had to give notice to your spouse about what you wanted to happen next. You gave him or her a copy of the papers and asked them to acknowledge receipt. This step is called serving your spouse.
You served your spouse by providing a signed acknowledgment of service form. A person who serves someone else must follow certain rules. For example, he or she must state his or her name, address, telephone number, and relationship to the person being served. He or she must deliver the paper personally to the person named in the summons and complaint. And he or she must keep a record of the date and method of delivery.
If you're lucky, your spouse will agree to cooperate and sign the acknowledgment form. But if you've been fighting over custody issues or property division, it's possible that your spouse won't respond. In that case, you'll have to prove that you did everything required by law to serve your spouse.
The court clerk will stamp "served" on the acknowledgment form. Then, you need to take a picture of the signature and send the photo to the court along with the acknowledgment form and a return envelope. The court sends the acknowledgment form back to you with instructions.
Once the court receives both the acknowledgment form and the photo, it will enter the information into the court records. The court will notify you when the acknowledgment form has been received. Once the court confirms that the acknowledgment form has been returned, the case moves forward.Step Four: Negotiate a Settlement
The next step in the divorce process is negotiation. This is where you and your spouse will sit down with each other and talk about what you want out of the divorce. You'll likely negotiate over some things, such as how much child support you're willing to pay, whether or not you'll keep certain assets, and how much alimony you'll receive. If there are still major disagreements, however, the judge will take over and make decisions regarding those matters.
In some states, the court will set up a settlement conference, where the parties and their lawyers will meet to discuss the case. During this meeting, the judge will ask questions and try to determine what issues remain unresolved. Then he or she will suggest ways to settle the remaining disputes.
If the couple cannot come to terms with the issues, the judge may choose to mediate the dispute. A mediator is someone outside of the family who helps facilitate discussions between the divorcing partners. Mediation is usually less formal than a full trial, and the mediator does not decide anything. Instead, the mediator helps the spouses understand one another better, and encourages them to find common ground.
Some states require mediation, while others don't. But mediation often saves significant time, money, and stress during the divorce process, and it's often a good option for most people.Divorce Trial
Negotiations and mediation sessions give couples the chance to work out their differences without having to go to court. However, if the negotiations don't work out, one party might decide to take his or her case to court. This is called filing for divorce.
If you want to save money and avoid the hassle of a trial, consider trying to negotiate a settlement agreement with your partner. There are several reasons why this might be better than going to court.Finalizing the Judgment
The final step of a divorce is signing the judgment of divorce or "order of dissolution." This document ends the marriage and spells it out in detail. Depending on where you live, there may be additional paperwork involved, such as court filings or a hearing.
If the parties negotiated a settlement agreement during the divorce proceedings, the filing spouse's lawyer typically prepares the judgment. Often, he or she does this without consulting the non-filing spouse. In some states, however, judges must approve any settlement agreements reached during the divorce proceedings.
If you go through a trial, the judge will usually sign the judgment once both sides agree on the terms. At this point, the judgment becomes legally binding.
A judge may ask either party to draft a proposed judgment, especially if one side wants to change something. Sometimes, the judge will decide what happens next. For example, the judge might set a date for a final hearing, schedule mediation sessions, or require the parties to submit financial information.
Once the judge approves the final judgment, the clerk of the court files it with the county recorder. Typically, this occurs within 10 days of the judge's signature.