Basic Divorce Process

This post contains general information about the divorce process, and not specific legal advice.

First, one person will file for divorce. It doesn’t matter who files – there’s no advantage.

Then, they’ll have their spouse served with the papers. If they want to avoid this step, they can give their spouse the papers together with what’s called a waiver of service. Do not sign this waiver before showing it to an attorney. Sometimes they can be sneaky.

Attached to the divorce papers will be something called “Standing Orders.” It’s important to read these carefully. They state important ground rules that you must follow during the divorce, relating to kids, property, money, harassing behavior, and more.

Next, one party can set a hearing for Temporary orders. These are the ground rules that will be in place until the final divorce decree is entered. In temporary orders, a court can order who gets to live in the house, who pays what bills, a possession schedule for the children, temporary child support, temporary spousal support, and more. Temporary orders are like a mini-trial on very short notice. They are extremely important because they can set up a status quo that can be hard to change later.

The next step is to exchange information. This is done through a formal process called discovery. Parties request documents and other information from each other. Then, the parties prepare and exchange what’s called an “Inventory and Appraisement” form. This lets everyone know what property is on the table.

Once the inventories are exchanged, it’s a good time to settle the case. This can be done through the lawyers, or through mediation. I’ll talk more about mediation in another video.

If a case settles, the lawyers will draft all the final paperwork, including the decree, any deeds or title documents, and any orders for the retirement plans.

The last step is to take the agreed decree down to the courthouse and do a “prove up.” Standing in front of a judge, your lawyer will walk you through a script stating the required legalese. The judge will grant the divorce and wish you good luck.

If there is child support, you’ll have to set up an account with the state to make and receive payments.

In the rare occasion that no agreement is reached, you will have to have a trial in front of a judge to divide the property and decide the kid issues. That complicated process is outside the scope of this video, but your lawyer will be able to help you.

This video was intended as a quick overview of the Texas divorce process. It is not intended as legal advice. If you have specific questions, please contact me at 972-769-2727 to set up a consultation.

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Emily Miskel

Judge Emily Miskel was appointed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott as the first judge of the 470th family district court of Collin County, Texas. She graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Law School and she is board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Find Emily on Google+, Facebook, and other social media.

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