Divorce in Texas: Where to Start

You just got served divorce papers, what happens next?

Divorce in Texas is really two lawsuits mixed in one. First, is the divorce lawsuit itself when the marriage ends, the marital estate, and divides the assets and debts. Second is the SAPCR or ‘suit affecting parent child relationship’ which deals with the conservatorship and other issues relating to the children.

Divorces happen essentially in three stages;

  1. The early temporary orders stage
  2. The discovery stage
  3. The resolution stage

The early temporary orders stage of Divorce

Stage 1. The first weeks of a divorce can be tumultuous.  The parent fighting over who lives where, what the schedule for the children will be, child support if any, and how the bills will be paid while the divorce is pending. In some cases, this can go easy if the parties agree to cohabitate or agree on who leaves the house.  Sometimes this stage is ugly to say the least. Without orders in place parents will sometimes yank kids from school, keep them from the other parent and lock each other out.  Spouses will start stashing and hiding money from each other and really throw rocks at each other in a court setting.

Its key during this time to keep a cool head and stay goal oriented.  Everything you do now can be used as evidence for or against you when the judge is making the temporary orders.  How you behave will have significant consequences in court.  I would also point out that in cases where you have children, how you treat your co-parent now can set the tone for how it is in the future.

If you’re getting divorced and in this early stage you need to be as organized as possible. You need to provide your attorney with a concise timeline of events, relevant exhibits, financial documents, and any witnesses they may need to litigate the case.  There simply isn’t much time to prepare for temporary orders hearings so the outcome is heavily dependent on the work of the client.  The more work you do to help the attorney prepare, the more likely you get a favorable outcome.

The discovery stage of Divorce

Stage 2. After the dust settles from the first round at temporary orders, now the information gathering or ‘discovery’ stage is set.  This can be very quick and easy or excruciatingly long and tedious.  It depends on your claims.

Regarding your custody case, this is the time where your custody evaluation will be done, or the amicus attorney will be gathering information. The children may be seeing counselors or therapists.  If you’re in a custody battle, you need to be working with your custody evaluator and/or amicus attorney to get them all the relevant information before they write a report or make recommendations to the court.

Regarding your divorce and property battle, this is the time for depositions, discovery, exchanging sworn inventories, and investigating potential reimbursement claims.  Its important to comply with all discovery requests and assist your attorney in gathering all the information necessary to divide your marital estate fairly and litigating all of your claims thoroughly.

The length of this stage varies wildly depending on need. If custody isn’t an issue and the assets are relatively straightforward, then this can be very short. If custody is requiring an evaluation, therapists and other professionals and/or there are significant issues regarding reimbursement claims then this process can take a very long time.

The resolution stage of Divorce

Stage 3. Your case can come to a resolution one of three ways. You can just come to a settlement with the other side informally. You can attend a formal mediation. Or you can go to trial to a judge or a jury depending on the issues.  The outcome of any of these routes depends greatly on the preparation and work done during the discovery stage.

The overall message is that in order to have good results in a divorce case you need to keep a cool head and be goal oriented, do the work to stay organized and help your attorney prepare, and follow the court orders.

Contact a Helotes TX divorce lawyer at Fiegle Law to represent you today.

Beauregard Driller Fiegel

Attorney, President

Beauregard Fiegel was born to Lt. Col. Driller Fiegel and Sondi Lynn Fiegel, MBA-HCM, RN, LSSGE on March 31, 1985 in Ruston, Louisiana. He graduated from Warner Robins High School in Warner Robins, Georgia in 2003. From there he went to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He graduated in 2007 with two separate undergraduate degrees; a bachelor’s of arts degree in Philosophy with a concentration in Religious Studies and a bachelor’s of arts degree in Political Science with a concentration in Political Theory.