Going through a divorce is, for many people, one of the most difficult emotional processes. That’s why we are committed to ensuring the legal aspect of the divorce process is made easy for you. We understand there may be a lot of stress on you as you deal with the filing of a divorce, which is why we will compassionately serve you and work tirelessly to fight for what you deserve. Whether you have received divorce papers or you are the one seeking a divorce, we are here for you, to take the stress upon ourselves and make this difficult time a little bit easier on you.
Experienced family law attorneys should support you by standing beside you throughout the entire divorce process, and at the Law Offices of Carroll & Hinojosa, PLLC, we believe that support should begin by making sure you understand the entire legal process of divorce. You need to understand what the process looks like, the timeline for a divorce, what your family law attorney plans to do for you, and what possible outcomes could look like in terms of property division, child custody arrangements, etc. Let’s begin with a look at the divorce process.
The first step in the divorce process is the filing of a Petition for Divorce. The original petition is filed with the Court and also served upon the other spouse (in family law, the other spouse is often called “the other party” or “the responding party” and refers to the non-filing spouse); its purpose is to give notice to the State of Texas and to the other party that the filing spouse is requesting the Court to order the termination of the marriage relationship. The Petition is a very short and concise document, often thought of as a “bare-bones” document. Sometimes, a responding party might think that the petition is invalid because it includes so little information, but this is a simple document and, generally, it is valid despite its bare appearance. After the petition is filed, the Court will issue a citation that must be attached to the petition and served jointly upon the other party to start the clock for the required waiting period. You may have heard before that a divorce takes 60 days to be finalized. This is the standard waiting period, but that’s only in a straightforward divorce without any complicating factors. So, assuming there are no factors in your divorce that require more time to resolve, such as the Court requiring the parties attend mediation, for example, spouses must wait 60 days after the filing of the petition before the Court can grant the divorce.
The requirement for service of process can be met by either actual service upon the other party or by the other party waiving service. The responding party can waive service by signing a document known as a “Waiver of Service” which is then filed with the Court by the filing party. If a party does not think the responding party will be likely to waive service, the filing party should serve the other party with process. Service of Process is when a copy of the petition filed with the Court and a copy of the citation issued by the Court is physically delivered to the other party. The personal delivery is generally carried out by a process server, but can also be accomplished by a constable or similar public officer. However, while there are multiple options to use for service, the party seeking the divorce is never permitted to serve process upon the responding party. The Citation is what the District Court Clerk will issue to notify the other party of the suit and the need for an answer to be filed the first Monday after the expiration of 20 days from the date of service. The responding party must be sure to file an answer before the deadline in order to avoid the court entering a default judgment against it and granting the request of the party who filed.
Oftentimes, before a divorce is finalized, there are matters that must be determined immediately, such as who will have access to the house and primary possession of the kids. In such instances, the Court will enter Temporary Orders that determine who has access to what. Temporary Orders can also be used to prevent spouses from spending funds from a joint checking account, destroying any personal property of the other, and other harmful acts to property until a final division order has been issued. If you have a matter that needs to be resolved before the divorce will be finalized, it is critical to hire a family law attorney early on in the divorce process to ensure your rights and desires are fought for at any hearing on Temporary Orders.
Discovery is another important step in the divorce process. The court will allow a set period of time for Discovery to take place, a time period which parties should use to find out relevant aspects of the other party’s life, assets, business profits, personal property, etc. There are five allowable forms of discovery under Texas law: Depositions, Interrogatories, Requests for Production, Requests for Admissions, and Requests for Disclosure. Discovery is often a very useful means of gaining evidence in the divorce process and while it is often expensive, it is almost always necessary in a contested case.
When the divorce decree is signed by the judge, this is not necessarily the end of the divorce proceeding. Either spouse has up to 30 days to file an appeal, which means the divorce is not technically finalized until the 30 days after the signing of the divorce decree. This means there will be effectively 90 days between the date of the filing of the petition and the date when the divorce is truly finalized—which means at least 90 days must have elapsed before a spouse can legally marry again.
A contested divorce will require more steps and usually more hearings during the process than a noncontested divorce. Discussing the specific circumstances of your divorce with an experienced family law attorney can help you understand the legal side of the divorce process more fully and lay out what your best options are as you proceed. We are here if you have any questions or need some guidance during this time.
Since 1998 the Law Offices of Carroll & Hinojosa have been provideing comprehensive to the people of San Antonio. In the almost twenty years of service the firm has grown from providing primarily criminal and family law representation, to handling business, estate-planning, probate and injury law. With multiple lawyers and a full complement of support staff, Carroll & Hinojosa is large enough to take care of the needs of most of the needs of the good people of San Antonio, and small enough that we can still provide a personal touch. We understand that people call us with serous needs. Our clients don't become just another number to us. Call now to speak with one of our attorneys about how we can help you with your legal matter. If we can't help, we can probably help direct you to someone who can.