Are you thinking about filing for divorce? Has your spouse already served you with divorce papers? Either way, it is in your best interest to consult one of our divorce attorneys immediately to learn more about divorce proceedings in general and what you can expect during your divorce. The law firm of ALSTON & ENGELHAUPT, PLLC offers complimentary consultations for people facing divorce. Call now to schedule your free consultation.

General Overview

The most common questions about divorce are: "How long will it take?" and "How much will it cost?"
Simply put, it depends. Every divorce is unique, and the time and cost involved in your divorce will fluctuate based on your personal circumstances and needs. Regardless, the law firm of ALSTON & ENGELHAUPT, PLLC is committed to keeping your costs as low as possible. When appropriate, the firm and its experienced divorce attorneys will assist you in cost-saving techniques such as mediation and settlement negotiations. Plus, there is no cost associated with your initial consultation.

Divorce Facts

Types of Divorce
There are two types of divorce: contested and uncontested.
Uncontested divorces occur when the divorcing spouses agree to all terms and conditions regarding the division of their assets and liabilities, as well as custody and child support if they have children. If you and your spouse can agree on all of these topics, then you will probably have an uncontested divorce.
Contested divorces occur when the divorcing spouses are unable to agree on all terms and conditions regarding assets, liabilities and children; the divorcing spouses must therefore negotiate or litigate their disagreements. If you and your spouse currently do not agree on all of these topics, then you will have a contested divorce.

Children and Divorce
If you have children that will be affected by your divorce-i.e., you and your spouse have children together or your spouse adopted your children-then the Court will also issue orders regarding rights and duties (called conservatoship),  visitation, and child support. Divorcing parents can negotiate their own terms, adopt the Texas Standard Possession Order (SPO) and child support guidelines, or take their case to the Court. At the end of the divorce, the Court will sign an enforceable order called a "Divorce Decree" that includes all the terms and conditions regarding your property, debts and children.

Divorce Timeline
Texas has a minimum 60-day waiting period before a divorce can be finalized; thus, your divorce will be pending for no less than two months. Divorces involving contested issues (i.e., child support, custody and property disputes) will most likely cause your case to exceed the 60-day waiting period.
Divorce cases (like most family law cases) can be split into three time periods: (1) pre-trial proceedings, (2) trial proceedings, and (3) post-trial proceedings. Your case may experience delay in one, some, or all of these areas. Once the court renders a final order, timely post-judgment motions and/or appeals will continue to extend the length of your case.

In conjunction with the deadlines and waiting periods mentioned above, divorces generally proceed as follows (not including post-trial and appellate action):

  • Petition filed: One of the parties files a petition for divorce (this party is called the "Petitioner"):
  • Service of Process: The Petitioner has the other party (the "Respondent") served with the divorce suit;
  • Answer/Counterclaims filed: The "Respondent" files an answer and/or counterclaims;
  • Mediation, Temporary Orders Hearing: Both parties attend a temporary orders hearing if they cannot agree on all terms (Note: temporary orders will vary depending on whether children are involved. Some courts require the parties to attend mediation before conducting a hearing on temporary orders.);
  • Obtain Temporary Orders: Court adopts agreed temporary orders or renders temporary orders after hearing;
  • Discovery, Settlement Negotiations, Second Mediation: Both parties should submit discovery requests to their opponent and engage in negotiations for agreed final orders. (It is typical at this point for the parties to go back to mediation);
  • Preparing for Trial: if settlement negotiations fail to resolve all issues, the court will set the matter for trial and provide each party with notice (both parties should continue trial preparations and complete discovery);
  • Trial: The parties and their respective attorneys attend docket call and trial, present arguments and evidence;
  • Judgment: At the conclusion of trial, the Court will recite orders based on the parties' presentations of arguments and evidence;
  • Prove-Up: Either party and his/her attorney attends this final hearing wherein the Court adopts the final decree of divorce and grants the parties' divorce.

Issues Typically Arising in a Divorce Proceeding

There may be several issues that must be resolved on a temporary and/or permanent basis during your divorce. Who will live in the house while the divorce is pending? Which car will you drive before and after the final order? Who will have primary custody of the children, and who will pay child support? These are just some of the many questions you and your spouse will face when obtaining temporary and final orders.

Once your divorce proceeding begins, you and your spouse will have the chance to agree on every issue relevant to your case. In most cases, the court will adopt the agreement of the parties whether the agreement is for temporary or final orders.

If you are unable to agree on some or all of the issues, the court will decide for you during a pre-trial hearing or at trial. The attorneys of the law firm of ALSTON & ENGELHAUPT, PLLC will help you negotiate the best agreements possible and, where no agreements can be reached, zealously present your position in court. Call today to discuss your case with an experienced divorce attorney that can help.

For more information about family law in Fort Bend County, Harris County, Galveston County and Brazoria County including Sugar Land, Missouri City, Stafford, Richmond, Rosenberg, Fresno, Clear Lake, League City, Webster, Friendswood, Pearland, and the Houston metropolitan area, or if you require a family law attorney, please contact us.