The 4 Basic Stages of the Process
Although the divorce process in Texas has many different facets – property division, child custody, alimony, etc. – and each of those facets is complex in its own way, the whole process itself can be broken down into a few simple steps. In this post, we’re going to identify and discuss the 4 basic stages of the divorce process. Any given case might have more steps than these 4 discussed here, but breaking down things in this way should give our readers a good sense of the general pattern of the divorce process.
#1: Original Petition
This is where everything really begins. Although there is a lot of preparatory work involved – the consultation, research, etc. – the original petition is the real “starting point” of a divorce. Here in Texas, this petition is referred to as the “Original Petition for Divorce” and involves a mandatory court filing fee. After this document is filed, you will be assigned a case number, and then you will be required to serve the other party (the “respondent”) with notice of the petition.
#2: Service of Notice to Respondent
The original petition initiates the process, but the process itself cannot move forward until the other party is properly served with notice of the petition. Service of notice is something which most readers will be familiar with, as this aspect of the divorce process has been popularized in various media. Texas family law has certain technical requirements when it comes to the proper method of service. For the sake of simplicity, we can say that simply telling the other party about the petition is insufficient. Basically, the other party has to actually receive a copy of the petition, or sign a waiver which states that the notice has been received.
#3: Court Hearing
After the respondent has been properly served with notice of the petition, the next step is to have a hearing on the issues of the case. Every divorce will have its own issues. The hearing is where these issues will be openly discussed and litigated so that the parties can reach a reasonable agreement and move forward. The parties will need at least one hearing to settle their issues, but often they require multiple hearings. Or, if they choose to employ a mediator, they may avoid the courtroom altogether and resolve issues via mediation. The key point is that the parties will need to eventually come together to settle any disputes they may have.
#4: Final Divorce Decree
After all the issues of the dissolution have been resolved, the court will deliver a final decree which crystallizes all the outcomes of the process. This means that the various agreements pertaining to custody, alimony, child support, and so forth, will be resolved and put into place. Many states require a “cooling off” period which imposes a minimum amount of time before the decree can be issued. In Texas, this period is 60 days, and so no divorce process can be quicker than 60 days. Some local jurisdictions also impose additional time requirements on top of this statewide minimum.
Contact The Divorce Concierge for More Information
As mentioned, every divorce will be unique, and so divorces may take quite a bit longer than others. Some divorces will have more or less paperwork depending on the issues involved. But this discussion should give readers a good aerial view of how the process works. For more information, contact The Divorce Concierge today.