What Is The Process Of A Divorce In Texas?
The State of Texas offers its residents the option of obtaining what is called a “no-fault” divorce, which means that you don’t have to state or prove any specific grounds (such as family violence or abandonment) against the spouse to justify to the court the need for a divorce. Many people are not aware of this, which is why it can be helpful to speak with a Texas lawyer who can explain what is required to file for divorce. Some divorces are easy and with no conflict. Some divorces are full of conflict and drama. Divorce can be highly emotional and stressful. Thus, there are many issues that will need to be dealt with, both of immediate concern and future planning, items such as property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support. The formal divorce process in court starts with the filing of the papers in the County and asking for the divorce as well as asking that the court take up any other items that must be dealt with either immediately or upon divorce, such as name change, property division, child support and custody. The spouse must be notified of your filing by either being served or by presenting a waiver of service of papers of divorce for the spouse to sign and file in court. Texas requires a two-month waiting period before an order of divorce can be signed. That time can be extended if unresolved issues must be dealt with. A decree or written order of divorce must ultimately be presented to a judge who is qualified to grant the divorce. This is done thru a written request called a motion for a trial on the merits. Most divorces that are contested do not require a jury, but some do go thru a jury trial when factual issues must be decided. A judge will sign a final decree of divorce which is supposed to dispose of all of the issues that you originally requested to be decided as well as any issues that the opposing spouse may have requested to be decided. After 30 days, the divorce decree or order becomes final and generally the subject areas of the decree can only be changed by modification of the order which is a separate process.
How Does Mediation Compare To The Court Process In Handling A Divorce?
When compared to the court process for handling a divorce, mediation has benefits and drawbacks. Mediation is a way for both spouses to maintain control over the decisions they make about their family, children or property. Mediation is a non-binding informal process whereby a neutral person (called the mediator) gets both sides together with or without attorneys and seeks to find common ground and agreement between the parties over one or all open issues. The process of successful mediation can result in less legal expense than the court process because it does not require hiring and paying an attorney to resolve contested matters thru the court process and results in charges to the client by the hour. However, mediation doesn’t work for everyone, especially when there are a lot of high emotions or bad actions involved. Mediation requires that both parties work in good faith to each other and the mediation process to resolve disputes and conflicts. Sometime, that is not possible. In fact, the process of mediation can sometimes work against the interest of the uninformed clients by allowing for certain mistakes to be made with regard to property or custody arrangements. However, an added benefit of mediation is that it can be beneficial if you wish to have privacy of your divorce matters as mediation results and information exchanged during mediation is confidential.
While divorce mediation without lawyers can work for some relationships, it is oftentimes better to have an experienced attorney on each side who is fully informed in divorce law and familiar with all of the issues important to you. Sometimes, when one spouse is not playing fair, it takes a divorce lawsuit to actually make one side or the other see that there are judges and attorneys who are watching and protecting the innocent spouse from bad or harmful conduct. The benefit to a lawsuit related to a divorce is that there is a judge who is not there to be a neutral, but rather who acts to decide contested issues and who becomes familiar with your disputed issues that must be resolved. If you ever need to address a disputed issue in the future regarding that same spouse, then there may be a judge who has knowledge and past experience working with your situation which may work in your favor. Also, with a contested hearing or trial involving your family matter, there may be a court record of any bad conduct or evidence that may assist you in protecting your rights in the future. A mediation will not have any record of the process or any evidence to establish any of your rights or violations of your rights or agreement as the mediation process is strictly confidential.
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