Divorce Information

The filing for Divorce / Pre-Divorce Considerations / Timing / Preparing Yourself

Divorce in Texas is commenced with one party or the other filing a Petition for Divorce, which is usually coupled with a request for Temporary Orders, and if needed appropriate Temporary Restraining Order or Protective Order.

As a general rule, once a divorce in Texas is filed, there is a mandatory 60 day "waiting" period prior to the entry of a final decree. Once the final decree is entered, there is generally a mandatory period of an additional 30 days following the entry of the decree before either party can remarry. Careful planning is necessary to assure the divorce moves forward without delay but more importantly, without prejudice to your rights.

Before the pleadings for divorce are filed, careful consideration must be given to preparing yourself, legally, evidentiary, financially and emotionally. Care must be taken to locate, assemble, and preserve documents, bank account records, credit card statements, and other personal and financial information to assure a complete analysis of the parties assets and liabilities. Preparing yourself for the divorce is critical, the assembly and preservation of documents prior to filing for divorce ensures that the proceedings go more smoothly for both parties. Showalter Law Firm works closely with its clients to prepare them for all of the legal hurdles a divorce entails. The firm has the skills and expertise to suggest the key actions you can take prior to filing for divorce to protect yourself, your finances, and your children before the entry of temporary orders.

Temporary Restraining Orders

Upon a parties request, or on the Court's initiative, Temporary Restraining Orders can be entered during the initial pendency of divorce proceedings. The Temporary Restraining Orders can be issued "Ex Parte," without notice to the other party, and served with the divorce petition. The purpose of the Temporary Restraining Orders is to ensure that one party or the other does not destroy or conceal evidence or property, conceal the child, or make disparaging remarks concerning the other party. Most courts in Texas that enter Temporary Restraining Orders enter them as "mutually binding" that is, the Orders apply to both parties mutually and equally. The purpose of this is to keep the peace in a situation that could otherwise be very contentious. If Temporary Restraining Orders are issued, or you are served with Temporary Restraining Orders, you must take the specifics of the Orders seriously. Your violations of these Orders can subject you to civil penalties, including contempt of Court. If you received a Temporary Restraining Order when you are serve with the divorce pleadings contact legal counsel immediately.

Protective Order

Protective Orders are generally issued in family law cases where there are allegations of family violence, including prior law enforcement involvement.

Protective Orders are not entered by the Court as often as the Temporary Restraining Orders. The reason for the cautious entry of Protective Orders is that violations of Protective Orders have criminal penalties. If you are served with a Protective Order, contact competent legal counsel immediately.

The application for a Protective Order requires detailed and specific sworn legal pleadings. Showalter Law Firm possesses the skill and expertise to present these complex pleadings on your behalf.

Waivers

If the parties agree to the divorce and desire to proceed amicably through the process, the responding party can "waive" being served with citation, but this must be done with care. If you are ask to sign a "waiver," consult a competent lawyer immediately. Waivers can be drafted to simply and only remove the requirement of personal service, or alternatively can be drafted very broadly such that your waiver may constitute the only notice you get of the divorce proceeding prior to the entry of a Final Decree. If this happens you may be left with no input, discussion or negotiation in the proceedings, and more importantly the terms and conditions of the Final Decree. Therefore, if you are presented a "Waiver" to execute during a divorce proceeding do not execute the document until you fully understand it by discussing it with a competent legal team. It is better to delay the process by a few days to assure your protection than move forward in a rush and face substantial problems later.

Mediation, Arbitration and Mini-Trial

Prior to trial of family law cases the Court's routinely order the parties to attempt to resolve the issues in mediation. A mediator is a neutral third party who does not represent the interest of one party or the other. Each party will be allowed to present their positions, argument, legal authority and evidence supporting those matters. The mediator does not render a decision. Rather, the parties collaboratively work to develop a Mediated Settlement Agreement. The agreement will cover all areas of the case, such as: conservatorship, possession and access, insurance, child support, property division and transfer, distribution of debts, and contingent plans for resolution of future disputes. If the resolution of the case during mediation is successful, the parties prepare a "Mediated Settlement Agreement" jointly that is executed by both parties and their counsel. If the formalities of a family law mediation are satisfied, the settlement agreement becomes binding, enforceable, and irrevocable upon its execution. The agreement ALSO generally provides directions as to which party will prepare the final documents, and establishes an entry date for one of the parties to "prove up" the divorce and the Final Decree. The cost of the mediation is generally split between the parties equally.

In a small percentage of cases if the parties cannot resolve by agreement or mediation the parties may opt to submit the matter or limited specific matters within the divorce to arbitration or a form of "mini trial." In those cases the parties present their evidence and arguments to the presiding officer of the arbitration or mini trial, who after considering the evidence and arguments, will enter his judgment. This process can be used in areas where the parties have specific legal arguments as to one or more limited questions in the divorce which do not require a full trial. The parties generally split the cost of these proceedings.

Trials and Appeals

A small percentage of cases simply cannot be resolved by agreement, mediation, or other alternative procedures. Those cases must be presented at trial. Trial of a family law case is unique because jury can only render a binding verdict in limited areas. In other areas the verdict of the jury is only advisory to the presiding Judge.

If the results of the trial are adverse to one party, the matter may be appealed. The appeal is much like other civil cases, is very complex and requires a legal team who has represented clients previously in appellate proceedings.

The association of counsel to represent your issues and be prepared to present your case at trial and any possible appeal is critical. Showalter Law Firm is experienced in jury and non jury trials as well as the related appellate proceedings in many areas.

Drafting the Final Decree and Closing Documents

After the resolution of the divorce proceeding and all the related issues, the Final Decree and related documents must be drafted. There are many documents that must be prepared in addition to the Final Decree, including: the Wage Withholding Orders, Medical Support Orders, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders for the division of certain types of retirement accounts, a multitude of legal documents necessary to cause the transfer of real property and property such as automobiles, as well as any agreements incident to the divorce which may be executed confidentially between the parties and binding as a contract but not filed with the Court. The Agreement Incident to Divorce is often utilized to protect the privacy of the parties and the division of their assets. Documents relating to the assumption of any purchase indebtedness i.e. home mortgages and the like must be prepared. Once the documents have been prepared they are exchanged and reviewed by opposing counsel for completeness and compliance with any agreements to the resolution of the divorce. The development and drafting of the final documents is a complex process requiring the association of qualified counsel.

Contact Our Offices In Richmond, Texas

Call us at 888-627-4042 or send an email with a brief explanation of your family law legal needs today.