There are six typical phases which average divorce cases may go through:
- Initiating the divorce – Consists of filing the Petition of Divorce and serving the other spouse with the papers.
- Standard Temporary orders (if necessary) – These are orders meant to preserve the couple’s property during the divorce proceedings.
- Discovery of evidence – Discovery includes disclosures about property, retirement plans, and other financial matters.
- Settlement negotiations – This step involves negotiating who gets what in the divorce, including child custody, property (physical and financial) and outstanding debt.
- Trial (if no settlement) – If you and your spouse can reach a mutual agreement about property division, child custody, and other divorce-related issues in an uncontested divorce, then you will not have to go to trial. This is the most cost-effective way to end a marriage. However, if agreement cannot be reached, then your divorce will go to trial and a judge will make decisions for you. Trials can be costly and time-consuming, so many people try and reach an agreement, often with the help of mediation.
- After trial / settlement – A divorce decree is a court order that legally ends a marriage. The divorce decree will include all the terms and conditions of the divorce, such as child custody, property division, spousal support, and more.
Note: Texas law prohibits a divorce decree from being entered until at least 60 days have elapsed from the date the divorce petition was filed. This “cooling off” period is, of course, just a minimum period of time. Typically, even uncontested cases take 90 to 120 days. Contested divorces, in which the parties do not agree as to how the issues in their case should be handled, may take several months or longer. Settlement negotiations may take many months, and in some cases, the parties simply cannot agree on a settlement and must go to trial.
Although each divorce case takes on its own unique personality, these basic steps occur in one form or another in most divorce cases. Speak with divorce lawyer Cesar A. Montalvo to get more personalized feedback on how your particular case is likely to progress.