When facing a divorce or related legal matter that is rife with emotional elements, you feel isolated and alone. You need an attorney who will not only dedicate his or her resources to resolving your problem, but also keep you informed. Our Arlington divorce attorneys can help.
Experience Matters in Determining the Best Outcome for You and Your Family
Making important, life-changing decisions is difficult when you are facing the end of your marriage. Our job is to guide you through the process and protect your rights. We also focus on the best interests of your children, particularly in child support and custody cases. Additional areas of our divorce practice include:
- Visitation and placement
- Alimony/spousal support
- Marital property division
- Contempt and enforcement proceedings
- Post-judgment modifications
Different Types of Divorces
In addition to no-fault and fault-based divorces, several different types of divorces can significantly impact the divorce process in Texas. What divorce option you pick might end up being the most determinative factor on the length of the divorce process.
A default divorce in Texas happens when one spouse files for divorce against the other spouse and the other spouse either:
1) refuses to acknowledge the divorce lawsuit or refuses to cooperate with any of the proceedings; or
2) the other spouse cannot be found and, therefore, cannot be served with the papers.
In default divorce cases, the missing spouse will have a specific timeframe to appear before the court and respond to the filing. If the disappeared spouse fails to appear or fails to respond, the court will automatically grant the filing spouse the default divorce by the end of this timeframe.
Mediated divorces in Texas allow spouses to attempt to resolve their issues before a neutral third party. Each spouse will retain an attorney, and both sides will work with a mediator to negotiate the divorce agreement.
This mediator will not actually make any decisions for the spouses or offer legal advice. Rather they try to get the parties to reach mutually agreeable terms and work through any lingering anger or hotly contested issues that will prolong the divorce.
However, mediation will only work if both spouses are truly on board with the process because it is a voluntary and generally non-binding option, unless there is a mediated settlement agreement. Typically, both spouses will split the mediation costs. It is most appropriate for amicable splits or couples who want control over the separation rather than appearing before a judge.
Mediation can provide unique problem-solving alternatives that could be unavailable when the couple goes to court.
In a collaborative divorce, the spouses will retain lawyers experienced in collaborative law to help resolve the divorce and enter into a collaborative law participation agreement that outlines the rules that must be followed.
Each spouse and their individual attorneys will meet multiple times to reach a final agreement. The spouses will typically retain other experts such as accountants, asset appraisers, financial advisors, child advocates, and divorce financial planners. This process can be significantly more costly and time-consuming given the extra number of third parties involved that demand higher fees due to their professional experience.
A potential issue with a collaborative divorce is when the spouses fail to reach a settlement, which requires the collaborative attorneys that represented them to withdraw from the case, circling the process back to square one. In this situation, the spouses wind up wasting months getting nowhere, prolonging the process, spending thousands on legal fees, and producing more anger and frustration along the way. It can also be less confrontational and more creative than a traditional divorce proceeding.
Litigation can be a time-consuming process in a contested divorce. Divorce attorneys will represent each spouse and potentially bring the case to court if a settlement cannot be reached.
There are three different types of divorce litigation, with each one gradually increasing the expected time it will take to end the dispute finally:
- First, a negotiated settlement is where the attorneys will engage in negotiations to avoid an emotionally taxing trial and keep the terms of the settlement confidential.
- Second, spouses can decide to submit the dispute to an arbitrator of their choosing that will typically issue a binding and not appealable. This route might be chosen after failed mediation or collaborative divorce so the parties can reach a quick compromise while the main issues have been fully discussed and negotiated.
- Finally, in 2020, 27% of divorce cases ended up being decided at a bench trial, which is by far the most expensive and grueling process possible. This is where you can expect a divorce to take 12-18 months to complete, given the legal system’s reputation of handling things slowly and the possibility that it might be difficult to drag the necessary parties into court. Litigation will also be costly due to mandatory court fees, travel expenses, expert fees, and legal costs.
As mentioned in the second option under litigated cases above, arbitrated divorces in Texas are similar to mediated collaborative and litigated divorce cases. Similar to mediated and collaborative divorce cases, both spouses retain lawyers and work towards an amicable agreement with one another.
However, similar to litigated cases, the arbitrator will have the final say and the power to force the spouses to compromise on certain situations, even if one or both spouses object. Arbitration proceedings can sometimes run like trial proceedings, albeit more informal.
At Your Side Until Your Divorce is Finalized
Our attorneys will meet with you to determine what your immediate family law needs are currently. If collaborative law is not for you and litigating your family law matter in court is necessary, our attorneys are experienced in family law litigation. Our attorneys will fight aggressively for our client’s interests. We use mediation to help settle some or all of the issues in our client’s case while minimizing the financial and emotional impact of divorce as much as possible. Our divorce attorneys will inform each client of his or her rights and options so that the client is better able to make informed decisions while going through the family law process.
While we see value in mediation and collaborative law, we also understand that many divorce-related disputes can only be resolved through trial litigation. We pride ourselves on being respected trial attorneys who will fight for our clients in the courtroom.
What is the Divorce Process in Texas?
Texas has a mandatory waiting period of sixty days, so sixty-one days, if there are no waivers, is the fastest possible finalized divorce a spouse can receive. However, it is estimated that divorces will typically take between two months and a year, as the process is usually more complicated than talking it over a bit and filing some papers. The average divorce process in Texas involves several steps that can take varying amounts of time.
First, the filing spouse must go through a pre-filing process that involves determining whether filing for the divorce is the right move in the first place. The filing spouse may take time to make this decision and then gather information to file the divorce petition, usually with the help of a divorce attorney. The spouse must decide what they are asking for in terms of custody and division of assets.
Next, the spouse will file the petition and the mandatory 60-day period starts. The petition must be served on the other spouse unless they sign a waiver, which may consume time if one spouse chooses to be exceptionally difficult. After serving the petition, the other spouse has twenty days to respond to the case or risk the possibility of being defaulted and their spouse proceeding without them and finalizing the case.
However, Texas Family Code Section 31.008 states that a spouse may “waive the issuance or service of citation after the suit is filed by filing with the clerk of the court in which the suit has filed the waiver of the party acknowledging receipt of a copy of the filed petition.” This signature must be notarized, cannot be a digitized signature, and must contain the mailing address of the party who is executing the waiver. The main purpose of signing a waiver is to eliminate the requirement of being served. The waiver when filed in the court, puts that spouse before the court. Depending on how the waiver is drafted, it can waive rights and still require notice of future hearings and/or trials. A spouse can still hire an attorney if the desire, even after signing a waiver. An individual cannot sign the waiver until at least one day after the Petition for Divorce has been filed with the court. If you sign the waiver before then, you will have to redo it. Before signing a waiver of citation, you should always consult with an experienced Texas divorce lawyer to understand your rights and what you are waiving.
If the divorce winds up being contested, the spouses may spend several months to a year compiling evidence, doing discovery, attempting mediation or collaborative divorce, or engaging in negotiated settlements with their attorneys. During this time, a judge might issue temporary orders that last until a trial occurs, detailing child custody, child support, payment of debts, who will remain in the primary residence, and any child or spousal support.
Last, a final divorce hearing may occur over the course of potentially several days, and a judge will issue a final, binding decree ending the divorce process. Reaching this point is when spouses can expect the divorce to take longer than a year.
Contact Our Arlington Divorce Attorneys Today
While going through a divorce can be difficult, an experienced divorce attorney can help you every step of the way. Whether you are going through a mediated divorce, an uncontested divorce, a litigated divorce, or any other type of divorce described in this article, our attorneys here at Jackson, Landrith & Kulesz PC will be by your side to ensure you understand each step of the process.
This is a major and often extremely difficult decision for a spouse or spouses to make. It is crucial that while going through a divorce, you have an experienced Texas divorce law attorney by your side to help you understand the process and your legal rights.
Our knowledgeable divorce lawyers have years of experience helping our clients go through every stage of the divorce process. Contact us today for a consultation about how we can help you.