Fort Worth Family Law Attorney Nathan Hatton Explains the Steps in Getting a Divorce in Tarrant County, Texas
While each case is different, and can take its own twists, turns and detours, below are general steps from the time to a party decides to file a petition to a final order.
- Filing the petition for divorce. The petition will include basic information about you, your spouse, your children (if any), as well as what you are asking the Court to do in your divorce.
- Giving your spouse legal notice. After the petition for divorce is filed, you must give legal notice to your spouse. Notice is usually given by hiring a process server who will deliver a copy of petition to them.
- Getting an initial hearing before a family law judge. Your divorce attorney will work with your spouse’s attorney to figure out what you and your spouse agree upon and what remains to be presented to the judge.
- Receiving temporary orders. Based on the hearing, the judge will issue a set of temporary orders that are usually close to the status quo. These orders will resolve issues such as where the children will live, what the visitation schedule will be, etc., and will provide a set of rules for you and your spouse to live by until the divorce is finalized.
- Answering questions as part of discovery. During a divorce, each party has the right to gather evidence from the opposing party in a process called discovery. The goal of discovery is to assure that you and your spouse have access to the same information so that you can negotiate a fair agreement or present your case effectively to a family law judge. During discovery, you may be asked to produce documents such as tax returns, bank records, brokerage statements, etc. You may also be required to answer questions under oath in a deposition.
- Giving feedback and making tweaks. While you and your spouse are living under the temporary orders, your attorney will gather feedback on what is working and what needs to be adjusted before the judge issues final orders.
- Bringing in a mediator. If you and your spouse cannot reach agreement with the help of your divorce attorneys, the judge will give you an opportunity to work with a mediator to try to come to an agreement to spare you the expense of a trial. It usually is beneficial to all parties to reach an agreement.
- Going to trial. Only a tiny fraction of divorce cases in Tarrant County reaches this point. The judge will hear any issues that have not been resolved and render a judgment.
- Finalizing the case. Besides a Final Decree of Divorce, there are usually other documents that need to be executed to finalize the divorce. These range from warranty deeds in order to transfer property to Qualified Domestic Relation Orders to divide retirement accounts.