Hi there. I’m attorney Leslie Barrows and you’re listening to the Texas Divorce Lawyer Podcast with me Leslie Barrows. The goal of this podcast is to educate people in Texas about divorce. I want to be able to describe what divorce means, how it affects children, both young and grown and give my listeners a little bit of Hope – especially if they are about to start or are in the middle of divorce proceedings. Welcome to the podcast.
Host: Question number one today is: What is the overall process of divorce? And what will my case look like?
Leslie Barrows: When you are considering divorce, the first thing that you would do in order to start the lawsuit is petition for the divorce, which that starts the lawsuit and in the petition for divorce, you’re going to list the date of marriage and the date of separation and the reason that you want divorce. And so there are all kinds of different reasons and the main reason for divorce, generally is that just basically – you guys aren’t getting along and you wish to move on and not be with your spouse anymore. A lot of people will also allege a different reason maybe there’s been Family Violence or you have a protective order pending or in the works. Also, adultery is a big one, you know, maybe someone has stepped out of the marriage and had a relationship with somebody else. So you have to consider, you know what reason you want to list in your petition for divorce to start the process. And I know a lot of times if there’s Family Violence and police have never been called, there’s no police reports. Sometimes people will choose to not add that in there divorce because they don’t want to upset their other spouse. You also will list your kids’ names and their dates of birth and where they’re currently living and then if you are a wanting a name change, that’s something to that would be in the divorce and the petition – you pretty much will also always ask for attorneys fees and court costs. And I know that some people don’t want that in there, sometimes if you’re trying to work out an agreement with your other spouse, so will generally take that out if we’re going to have an agreed divorce but at this is something where we’re thinking it’s going to go to court. We’re going to put everything into our petition to make sure that we have all the bases covered.
You also want to consider whether or not you want to have a restraining order in your divorce. Now restraining order is a scary term because people think oh, well, that’s really going to once my husband or my wife receives this that’s going to really scare them and you know and cause a lot of problems in the house because you’re still living in the house. So what a restraining order does is that just make sure that the kids aren’t taken out of school that the financial accounts are not aren’t changed. You know, you are not cut off of credit cards. You can’t go in and change the beneficiaries of your will you can’t change the beneficiaries of your life insurance policy. So, there’s a whole list of different requests that we can make and that is just trying to protect you and your maybe finances or if you have a business together with your spouse just to make sure that nothing’s going on where you’re being cut out of the financials. That’s something that you really have to consider when you’re filing for a petition for divorce is whether or not you want to add a restraining order in there and it would be a temporary restraining order.
Now the next step once you file the petition for the restraining order, you’re going to consider whether or not you want to have a temporary orders hearing. So a temporary orders hearing is a hearing that would be at the courthouse and they would be heard by the associate judge. If you’re in Tarrant County, if you’re in Denton County, you could be going before the District judge. So that’s something where you would have a temporary orders hearing and you need to have a date and make sure that date and that notice of hearing was all in your petition for divorce. You’re TRO which is a temporary restraining order and you’ll have a notice of your temporary orders. So all of that information is going to all those documents are going to be served on the other side.
So I want to kind of go over what happens in a temporary orders hearing. That’s something where you’re going to have decisions on a temporary basis of who’s going to be living in that the marital residence sometimes you’re going to have to decide are you going to be able to cohabitate with your spouse or is this something where you guys are going to need to set up two separate households. Maybe one person stays in the house and then the other one gets an apartment if you if they haven’t already done that.
You’ll also need to check out what’s happening with the kids. If you have kids and your divorce who’s going to maintain who’s going to pay child support and what schools are they going to continue to stay in the same school district. So with children you want to make sure that everything pretty much stays the same with the kiddos. We want to we want them to not be involved in the litigation and not know about what’s going on. And that’s something where we want to make sure that the parents are talking to each other if they can. If not, we don’t want the kids to be involved in the court process. If you’re running a business with your spouse or you have your own business, this is somewhere during the temporary orders. This is something where you’re going to make sure that the business is continuing to run and that there is being some oversight of the financials and the accounts.
Child support and health insurance will be addressed regarding the whole family. Usually whoever is carrying the health insurance. You’re going to keep that going and continue to pay that. Child support will be ordered unless you’re doing a 50/50 or equal possession schedule with the children. You’ll also have spousal support. If you are entitled to spousal support on a temporary basis now that’s usually determined on your monthly budget how much it’s going to cost for you to stay in the house or stay and new place so that you could be eligible to have spousal support. So while those are all just some things that are decided at the temporary orders hearing and that you want to make sure that you’ve listed all of those, you know different requests in your original petition for divorce that served on your other on your spouse.
Then the next step is once there’s been serviced on your spouse. They’re needing to file an answer and usually – I mean pretty much 90% of the time they go in and get a their own attorney. Then that attorney reaches out to us and says, hey are there any agreements we can make and if we can’t make agreements on all issues, then we’ll continue to go to our temporary orders hearing and have the judge decide our issues that we can’t resolve. Now if you’re going to a temporary orders hearing you’ll definitely need to help out and make sure that we have all the witnesses, that we have tax returns, we have paychecks. That’s a big thing that we need to make sure we have all of our financial information and how much is it cost to run your household will need to know how much you’re paying for your mortgage and how much it’s costing for the kids and if they have tutoring if they have special needs we know these are all things that we need to account for and prepare for our temporary orders hearing.
We will also need to make sure that all we have at least three years of tax returns. So that’s something that we need to make sure that that that’s done and that those are exchanged with the other side. After temporary orders hearing you can go in and they’ll be a new an order a temporary order and that will stay in place until the next time you would go to court or the next time you would be in. The temporary orders hearing after that you draft. Basically, we would have an order and that would lay out all of the decisions that were made at the temporary orders hearing for divorce
The next step usually is to get a pre-trial scheduling order and to go and make sure that all the dates have been set for final trial and you get deadlines to make sure that maybe if you need a custody evaluation, or if you have children, sometimes we have to get a custody evaluator appointed you’ll need to make sure that we get a mediation date. We have Discovery deadlines and a final trial. That’s something that’s really important. If you think that a case is going to drag on for a long time. You make sure that you have a pre-trial scheduling order from the court that gives us all of those deadlines.
And then of course there’s an option for doing Discovery. That would be something that is a case-by-case basis, you know are we going to send Discovery over to opposing counsel and maybe we would send a request for production of documents or request for admissions. And sometimes we have to do depositions. So it just depends on the case. The discovery is something that your attorney and just make sure that you have everything you need to make sure you make the best decision of whether or not you need to do Discovery.
You also need to make sure that you go to mediation if it’s court-ordered and mediators that are specialized in different kinds of cases. So it’s really important that you pick the right mediator for your case. If it’s a case where you have a business or you have some tax issues, you have a house and some a lot of assets, you need to make sure that you get a mediator that has the experience that you need to mediate your case and a lot of times our cases settle at mediation. So mediation is very is a very positive approach to resolving your issues and keeping your case and all your private information out of court. I highly recommend you know, making sure you select the best mediator.
Then once we go to mediation if the case doesn’t settle the case we continue on and we would go on to a final trial and front of the district court. So that’s something that has takes lots of time to get ready for you have to get witnesses, you have to subpoena the witnesses and get records. Maybe there are CPS records or school records may be mental health records that you’re going to have to get all this information it is very important for your trial and making sure that you have prepared all of your witnesses and then even prepared yourself because the judges want to hear from the other side and or both sides and they’re going to give you that opportunity to be heard and you have a right to a bench trial. Which that’s what we do a lot of times and that’s just in front of the district judge in a very few cases we go to a jury trial. So that’s something to that you can ask for but there’s not a lot of jury trials and family law honestly for divorces. So it’s a very expensive process and it is really sometimes unnecessary. And if you’re going to a jury trial for your divorce, just know that that’s really rare that you would do something like that. So that kind of wraps up in a nutshell the divorce process and starting with the petition then deciding on if you wanted TRO which is the temporary restraining order, then deciding to if you want to temporary orders hearing, then you want to make sure you get a pre-trial scheduling order that sets all those deadlines, and that’s really important. Then you need to decide whether or not you want to do Discovery and send out, you know request for production request for inspection of documents.
You’ll also go to mediation and prior to mediation, you’re going to have to do an inventory and appraisement and make sure that you have listed all of the assets that you you have and provide documentation to your attorney and that all that information is sworn to and goes over to the other side of the case. And then if your case doesn’t settle at mediation remember that you’re looking at trial, so all of this can take if you’re looking at a final trial you’re looking at about eight months you’d have to you’d start the process and you’re looking at maybe having to final Trial in eight months. That’s just given the different courts and how long you’d need for trial usually our trials and divorces take about a day. So sometimes if you have a lot of issues it could take more than one day, so that’s something to keep in mind.
Thanks for listening to the Texas Divorce Lawyer Podcast with me attorney Leslie Barrows, if you like my show and want to know more check out my website at barrowsfirm.com or please leave a review on iTunes, Spotify or whichever social media outlet you are listening on. Be sure to join me next time and thanks for listening.