Protecting Your Rights & Simplifying the Divorce Process
Divorce is never easy for anyone involved, but by taking the right steps early on, you can drastically simplify the process. Don’t let other lawyers bully or scare you out of your rights! In the state of Texas, you still have options.
Starting the Divorce Process in Texas
In the state of Texas, the divorce process begins once either the husband or the wife petitions the court for a judgment of divorce. This early paperwork drawn up by your spouse’s attorney usually demands far more than is reasonable. When you see these ridiculous demands, act fast.
As the respondent, you have a limited amount of time to hire representation and respond to your spouse’s demands item by item. This list is known as a <strong<Counter-Petition, and it’s your first step towards receiving fair and equitable treatment in your divorce.
While you do have the ability to fight your spouse’s demands, the easiest way to protect your interests is to begin the proceedings and initiate divorce on your own, taking relevant documents and assets with you.
Issuing Ex Parte Temporary Orders
Depending on the circumstances and allegations at play in your divorce, certain restraining orders may be issued to ensure a fair discovery phase. These orders are strictly temporary and will expire after 14 days until your case is settled.
These may also be bolstered by other temporary orders regarding custody and property. Again, these orders do not necessarily reflect the outcome of the case and will vary depending on the specific details of your case. Having quality defense on your side early in the process can help ensure that any temporary orders are issued fairly and equitably.
Building Your Case
Just because you think your spouse’s demands are unreasonable doesn’t mean your judge will. Once you’ve countered their initial demands, you and your lawyer will work together to strengthen your case during the discovery phase.
During discovery, you and your lawyer will gather the evidence and documentation that proves your side of the story, and develop a strategy for any allegations and counter-arguments your spouse and their attorney might bring to court. This is where hiring a strong, aggressive attorney can really pay off. By making the smart, strategic demands, and avoiding being caught off guard, your chances of a favorable outcome increase significantly.
With all of your evidence in place, your respective attorneys will begin settlement negotiations*. While your lawyer is your main voice during this phase of the divorce, nothing is formally agreed to until you personally understand and approve the terms.
In order to avoid trial, many settlement processes will involve a mediator. This neutral third party has no legal authority. Instead, they may work with the attorneys to help balance out the compromises so both parties can reach the terms they feel more comfortable with. 95% of divorce cases are settled this way out of court, but sometimes the demands are just too intense for settlement to be possible – that’s when your case moves to trial.
*In Texas, Rule 408 keeps settlement negotiations out of evidence during your trial.
Taking Your Divorce to Trial
If the terms proposed during negotiation simply aren’t acceptable, that’s when we take your case to court and fight. More often than not, most Texas divorce cases are tried solely for a judge with no jury.
With less room to play to a crowd, it’s very important that your attorney is adept in a trial setting, and have airtight knowledge of the law. Juries may respond to flimsy arguments, but a judge most certainly will not. Every witness and every piece of evidence counts. It’s up to your attorney to make sure that every last element of your defense is chosen wisely and strategically.