Basic Steps: Family Law Case , Divorce Edition
So what are the basic steps in a family law case such as divorce, from start to finish and how do you get your head wrapped around this problem?
Make a decision and file
Someone has to make the decision, and someone has to file.
For example, filing the original petition for divorce that is the first step- it is often the hardest step because no matter how brief the union is, in my experience, I see numbers of clients, but no matter how brief it is, it's still a significant relationship with somebody that's not your parent, that usually you've made promises to in front of your your God, your preacher, your spiritual advisor, your family and your friends. So it's not insignificant, and it's a big decision.
Issuance of a citation from the county or district clerk where your case is filed
Then the response from the other side, and that response is going to include either a counter petition or is going to just be a generic. For example: " i'm in the lawsuit and i don't agree with anything that was filed i deny all and want strict proof of those allegations" and then what commences is the discovery process , which is where the parties ask each other questions back and forth, usually it's recommended, certainly I recommend doing an inventory an appraisement where the parties list their separate property assets, their community property assets, and all debts, so that way there are sworn statements as to what property is in the community estate
Negotiation and mediation can occur in that initial discovery process. Theres a 60-day cooling off period in the state of Texas, whereby not a lot of things can happen, temporary orders, discovery mediation, and negotiation. You cannot get divorced, you cannot get remarried for that 60-day process
Temporary orders hearing is a hearing at the beginning of the case, they call it a temporary order, but that might actually not be the most accurate word because depending on what happens at that hearing, that can really control not only how the case goes, but long term how things move forward, and even through like a final ruling, generally judges do not revisit their rulings on temporary orders and that is a very abbreviated window that's about 20 minutes per side and it's big stakes. Because whatever happens at that temporary orders hearing, might be the law of the case, all the way through final trial, so unless something drastically changes after temporary orders, that might be your one shot to present to the judge your best arguments for where things are in the case at that point. Temporary orders sometimes fall before mediation, sometimes after
Final: Not much to do after that except for final hearing and then preparing the final decree of divorce , which sets out parenting plans if there are any, necessary and property division matters, and then closing documents.