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I’ve filed for divorce….so what happens next?

Perhaps the most frequent questions we encounter from clients shortly after filing for divorce are “How long is this going to take?” and “What happens next?”  Of course the answer to these questions depend upon how cooperative the spouses will be during the pendency of the divorce process.  In general, the more cooperative the spouses, the quicker the divorce process; whereas, the more antagonistic the spouses, the longer the divorce process.  While Section 6.702 of the Texas Family Code provides that, in most cases, a court cannot grant a divorce before the 60th day after the date the suit for divorce was filed, the reality is that most divorces are not easy enough to be ready for “prove-up” (i.e., finalization) by the 60th day after filing in the first place.

 

So what happens during those sixty days after filing and thereafter until prove-up?  In many cases, the divorcing spouses will need to have the court make “Temporary Orders” to be in place during the pendency of the divorce, especially if the parties have minor children.  The goal of having Temporary Orders in place is to allow for as much safety and stability as possible for the parties and the children while the divorce is pending.  Pursuant to Section 6.502 and Section 105.001 of the Texas Family Code, the court has the power to make temporary orders for the preservation of the property and protection of the parties as deemed necessary and equitable and for the safety and welfare of the children while a divorce suit is pending.  These Temporary Orders oftentimes include orders requiring payments to be made for the support of either spouse and/or the child(ren), payment of interim attorney’s fees and expenses, awarding one spouse exclusive occupancy of the marital residence during the pendency of the case, and in the case of children, orders for conservatorship of the child(ren) while the case is pending, including a schedule for possession and access, and in most cases, an order for the child(ren)’s residence to be restricted to a certain geographic area.  If the divorcing spouses are relatively amicable, then it is possible for the parties to agree on Temporary Orders without the necessity of a hearing.  Otherwise, a hearing is required for the Court to make such Temporary Orders.

 

But these are just Temporary Orders.  In order for the court to make a final order in a Final Decree of Divorce, the divorcing spouses will need to either settle all claims and controversies between them, or they will be required to appear before a judge (and in some cases a jury) for final trial if they do not settle.  This is why as part of the Temporary Orders, courts will oftentimes order the parties to exchange sworn inventories and appraisements of the real and personal property owned or claimed by the parties, along with a list of their debts and liabilities, so that the divorcing spouses can attempt to settle on the issues involving the division of property, debts, and liabilities.  To help facilitate settlement, courts will oftentimes order the parties to attend and participate in mediation as part of the Temporary Orders as well.

 

Navigating the divorce process is something that any divorcing spouse should consult with an attorney about.  If you or a close friend or relative are contemplating divorce, then the attorneys at McClure Law Group, PC would be glad to help you or those who are near and dear to you.  Please call 214-692-8200 or visit us at mcclure-lawgroup.com to learn more.