If you are considering filing for divorce and separating from your spouse, or have received service of divorce, it is important to understand how Texas law applies to your situation. The dedicated Flower Mound divorce attorney from Mims Ballew Hollingsworth | Family Law will take the time to learn about your unique situations to identify your goals, and determine what options are available for us to help.
Knowing what types of divorce are available in Texas, and some useful information about the process, will make your consultation with a local Flower Mound divorce lawyer more fruitful and valuable, so read on to learn more.
There are three kinds of divorce in Texas, with the facts and the circumstances of your situation, and your goals, determining which kind of divorce will best fit. A resource to consider is Texas Law Help, which has a guide explaining divorce in Texas. According to Texas Law Help:
The kind of divorce that you proceed with will also determine the amount of time the process takes, and the potential costs linked to the process.
Divorce in Texas can be completed through an agreement. You and your soon-to-be former spouse agree about all the key issues in your relationship, from the division of property and spousal support to child custody or visitation arrangements. Both spouses must be willing to sign the divorce forms for this pathway to work for your situation.
Through this pathway to divorce, a Final Decree of Divorce detailing the specifics of the separation of property and responsibilities must be signed by both spouses. In this manner, the involvement of the court in the decision-making process is removed, and your privacy is largely supported.
A divorce by default may be filed when your spouse is served, and they fail to file an answer or otherwise appear in court. This pathway can create complications down the line, and when you have assets and important issues to address, it is best to come to an explicit agreement that covers all your concerns.
A contested divorce happens when:
In order to complete a contested divorce, the case must be set for a final hearing, and it is required that your spouse is given notice of the hearing a minimum of 45 days prior to. According to Texas Law Help, “(i)t’s important to talk with a lawyer if your case is contested”. When a divorce is contested, the parties may be required to provide one another with information and documents based on initial disclosure requirements.
The divorce process begins when one spouse files an Original Petition for Divorce with the court. The filing spouse is the “petitioner”, while the spouse against whom the divorce has been filed in the “respondent”.
Unless a divorce is agreed upon, the petitioner must have the respondent served with the following:
The drafting and filing of your Original Petition for Divorce in addition to other documents requires an understanding of the process, and a local Flower Mound divorce attorney can help ensure everything is completed and filed correctly to get things moving.
To be a proper service must meet relevant Texas laws and requirements. Service Happens through either:
There are a broad variety of requirements and steps that must be
The most effective and straightforward way to process your divorce is through an agreement, as this maintains your privacy, and keeps the court out of the decision-making process regarding you and your former spouse’s futures. Through effective negotiation and legal advocacy with your local Flower Mound divorce attorney from Mims Ballew Hollingsworth | Family Law, a divorce agreement can often be reached when otherwise a divorce would have been contested.
To learn how we can help, reach us by phone at 817-476-7964, or visit our site to request a consultation.
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In Texas, there is a 60-day waiting period before a divorce can become final (unless an exception is granted due to family violence. Even if both spouses agree on everything, there must be at least 60 days from the date you file with the Court until the date the Court grants your divorce. If you and your spouse have an agreement, the divorce attorneys at Mims Ballew Hollingsworth can help you finalize your divorce on the sixty-first day after filing. This is the fastest possible outcome.
If you and your spouse do not have an agreement before filing, the time it takes to finalize your divorce depends on many factors including: whether children are involved, whether is there a business to value, whether discovery is needed, and the amount of conflict between spouses. Most cases reach a final resolution through an agreement at some point, but if your case goes to final trial, it can often take more than a year to resolve (especially in larger counties where court dockets are backed up).
While some contested divorces can be resolved in a few months, others can take years to finalize. If your divorce involves significant contested issues (i.e. which parent the children will live with, whether one spouse will receive alimony, who will be awarded the marital home), it is best to plan for anywhere between six months to eighteen months to get to the finish line.
Being the first to file a case (the Petitioner) provides strategic advantages throughout litigation. At trial, the Petitioner makes their opening statement first, calls their witnesses first, can delay the other party (the Respondent) from speaking until after all the Petitioner’s evidence is presented, and in closing arguments speaks both first and last.
While the Petitioner and Respondent have the same rights and often share the same burden of proof, filing first can certainly help with persuading the Court. Letting the Court know your side of the story first can help when it comes to decisions such as why your children should live primarily with you, why you deserve alimony or why the other party does not need it, or who gets to keep the marital home. If there are facts harmful to your case, filing first allows you to get in front of these and take the sting out of the Respondent’s argument.
Aside from benefits at trial, filing first provides an opportunity to send a message to the Respondent and direct how the case proceeds. Your first filing can indicate a desire to be amicable or can let the other side know you are prepared to fight. Your first filing can also be used to obtain a restraining order or set a hearing before the Respondent even knows a case is filed. Even how you notify the Respondent can impact your case, whether it is with a formal process server at their place of employment or through providing them the opportunity to avoid this scenario and voluntarily accept the filing.
Texas is a community property state. This means when you file for divorce our Courts assume that all property you and your spouse have is owned by the marriage and can be divided. However, if you can prove separate property (e.g., what you had before marriage, gifts you received during marriage or inheritance), then you will have property that the Court cannot take away from you in a divorce.
When property is divided, the Court does so in a manner that the Judge deems “just and right,” considering the rights of each party and any children of the marriage. This does not necessarily mean an equal division between spouses. What one Judge believes is “just and right” may differ from what another Judge right across the hall in the same courthouse believes.
At Mims Ballew Hollingsworth, one of the first things we do in your divorce is finding out what property exists for division. We work with you to obtain information on homes, bank accounts, vehicles, business interests, retirement, stock accounts, debts, and separate property claims. If you are concerned your spouse may be hiding assets we will work with you to find this information and ensure all property is accounted for.
After determining divisible property, the next step is valuation. With some assets, it is not as straight forward as looking at an account balance. Business interests can be difficult to value, home prices are constantly changing, and there may be certain tax implications (capital gains) that need to be assessed.
The process of determining what property is divisible and assessing values can be extremely complex, especially in high-asset divorces. The divorce attorneys at Mims Ballew Hollingsworth are experienced in dividing high-asset estates and will work with you and financial professionals to protect your financial interests.
A contested divorce or family law case does not require costly litigation in a public courtroom. You can resolve contested issues through alternative dispute resolution, such as collaborative law, mediation, or arbitration.
These alternatives are often more cost-efficient when compared to going to court, and can result in a faster resolution to your case (in large counties it is not uncommon to wait over a year before having a final trial due to the court’s docket).
Alternative dispute resolution methods, including mediation, are also confidential and do not take place in a courtroom that is open to public viewing. This can be beneficial for divorces and family law cases involving high-profile individuals (e.g. athletes, celebrities, politicians, etc.) or topics of a sensitive nature (i.e. business trade secrets or high-asset divorces).
Collaborative law is a confidential method of resolving a divorce or child custody case where parties work together through joint sessions with the help of specially trained professionals to assist with resolving financial and parenting issues. The focus is on finding mutually beneficial solutions and sharing information that would normally be kept confidential during litigation. Collaborative law is unique and may not be right for everyone, but for some, it is an effective method to lessen conflict.
Just because your divorce or child custody case is contested does not mean it needs to become high conflict and involve costly public court hearings. The family law attorneys at Mims Ballew Hollingsworth can talk you through these options and develop a plan for resolving your case in through alternative dispute resolution.