What Are The Steps in the Process of a Divorce in Sugar Land, TX?
Divorce proceedings can often get complicated. There are many steps involved in the process that spouses must undertake before they can get a final divorce decree. These steps often involve a lot of paperwork, deadlines, negotiations, and court hearings. Given that most people going through a divorce are suffering emotionally, the process can cause a significant amount of stress.
Going through a divorce alone, without a family law attorney, is something that we advise against. The process is often lonely and quite complicated for those with no legal support. Having an experienced divorce attorney by your side can make the process significantly easier and will ensure that your best interests are protected at all costs.
Sugar Land Divorce Attorneys
At Skillern Firm, we have been helping clients through divorce cases for over 13 years. Our divorce lawyers are highly experienced with all family law matters, including the divorce process, contested divorces, child custody, high-asset divorces, and more. We have a team of highly skilled and recognized attorneys that have won awards such as Enterprise.com Best Divorce Lawyers in Houston, recognitions as Super Lawyers, Top 10 Attorney in Family Law by Attorney and Practice Magazine, Top 10 Attorney in Family Law by America’s Best Advocates and Top 10 Under 40 by Nation’s Premier, National Academy of Family Law Attorney. Additionally the Firm received a Top Law Firm recognition from Best of the Best Attorneys.
In our family law firm, we treat every case with trust and compassion because we know how emotionally challenging divorce can be. Our divorce lawyers care about your future and want to get the best possible outcome for your case. Whether through divorce mediation or litigation, we will zealously advocate for you and protect your best interests. Our Sugar Land divorce attorneys are committed to your case.
Call our law firm today to schedule a consultation at 936-213-8479.
The Divorce Process in Sugar Land, Texas
The most common type of divorce in Sugar Land, Texas, is a contested divorce. During a contested divorce, couples do not agree on all divorce issues and must go through mediation or a trial to resolve these issues. However, before these issues can be resolved, there are several steps that a divorcing couple must take to begin the legal process of a divorce.
1. Deciding to Divorce
The first step in the divorce process is actually deciding to get a divorce. The decision to go through a divorce often comes after a lot of thought and unhappiness in your relationship. This decision is entirely personal, and we recommend speaking with your spouse, family, or friends about how you feel.
2. Hiring a Divorce Attorney
Once you decide to divorce, hire an experienced divorce lawyer as soon as possible. The earlier you hire an attorney, the easier the process can be. A divorce lawyer will talk to you about the divorce process, explain your legal rights, discuss the specific types of divorce, and help you file for divorce with the court clerk.
Your attorney can help you with divorce papers from the get-go, gather evidence for your assets, and help you throughout the entire process.
3. Filing The Divorce Petition
To initiate the divorce process successfully, you must file an Original Petition for Divorce with the District Court or County Court clerk and pay the filing fees. A copy of the divorce petition must then be served to your spouse unless they signed a Waiver of Service. Your attorney will ensure that the divorce forms are filled out and filed correctly.
4. Mandatory Waiting Period
Once the petition has been filed and served, there is a mandatory waiting period of 60 days. This waiting period applies to both contested and uncontested divorces. The aim of this waiting period is to ensure that divorcing spouses are sure of their decision before going through with the legal process. Once the 60 days have passed, a Judge can then sign off on a final decree.
During the waiting period, the other spouse must file a response to the divorce petition. If they do not respond to the petition within this 60-day period, the filing spouse can request that a default judgment be granted. A default judgment is when a Judge accepts all terms of the original petition and the other party loses their ability to oppose the terms of the decree.
6. Temporary Orders
A standard contested divorce proceeding will take at least 6 months to a year. However, there are important issues that need to be resolved before the final decree of a divorce, including the division of marital property, who pays the bills, who gets primary custody of the children, whether spousal maintenance payments apply, etc.
Temporary Orders are orders granted by a Judge in a hearing before divorce proceedings begin, that aim to resolve divorce issues temporarily. Often, divorcing couples must attend mediation before attending a Temporary Orders Hearing to resolve these issues together. A Judge may grant a temporary order for child custody, visitation, and temporary use of the marital home.
Temporary orders ensure both parties know what is required of them during the divorce case. It helps avoid confusion and provides some stability to divorcing couples and their children temporarily.
7. Discovery Stage
The discovery stage is when both parties obtain information and evidence about their assets from each other. Both parties are legally required to submit all information and documentation they have relating to marital assets, including retirement funds, stocks, real property, and savings accounts.
The aim of this stage is to ensure that both sides have the same information and that one party does not lose out in the final settlement agreement. The more evidence you have when entering the mediation stage, the stronger position you will be in.
Some things your Sugar Land divorce lawyers will do during the discovery stage include:
- Getting financial records of all marital assets and community property.
- Value determination of assets.
- Determining the owner of the property involved.
- Finding hidden assets.
- Determining if one spouse spent assets on gambling or other addictions.
- Gathering evidence to prove fault in an at-fault divorce.
- Assessing which parent should be awarded primary custody.
If you are going through a high-asset divorce and have significant assets and property, the discovery stage can go on for some time. Your divorce lawyers must assess the value of each asset, determine whether it is community property or individual property, and try to divide the assets equitably.
Once all documentation has been given to your divorce lawyers, you can then begin the mediation process. During mediation, divorcing couples work with a third-party independent mediator and their legal representatives to resolve divorce issues. Issues to be resolved during mediation include child custody, spousal support payments, property division, and visitation schedules.
The goal of mediation is to avoid bringing the case to trial. Depending on your marriage relationship and the issues that must be resolved, this process can take quite some time. However, a divorce attorney with strong negotiation skills can help speed up the process significantly.
If you can resolve all issues through mediation, you and your divorce attorney can draw up a court order outlining your final decision and move on to the next stage. However, if you could not come to an amicable agreement through mediation, your lawyer may recommend taking the case to trial.
9. Final Trial
Divorce cases that could not be resolved through mediation will go to family court. In court, both parties must present their case to the Judge using evidence and witness statements. Your attorney will argue on your behalf and present your case coherently to the Judge. They understand court proceedings, which can make it a lot less stressful.
The Judge must then decide on important matters in your divorce, including how the property should be divided, which assets are community assets, and which parent should get primary custody of the children.
Trials are a last resort in family law cases, as they can often cause damage to a family bond and harm the children involved. However, in some divorce cases, they are absolutely necessary. If it comes to it, the Sugar Land divorce lawyers at Skillern Firm will fight aggressively on your behalf in court and ensure that you get the best settlement possible for your case.
10. Final Divorce Decree
Whether resolved through trial, mediation, or as an uncontested divorce, the final divorce decree must be signed by a Fort Bend County Judge. The Judge must ensure that both parties meet the requirements for divorce under the Texas Family Code, including:
- At least one spouse has lived in the state for at least 6 months.
- You were legally married.
- You or your spouse were properly served with the petition, using a private process server or by signing a waiver.
- The decree has the correct legal provisions.
Once these requirements are met, the Judge will sign the decree, and the divorce is final.
Do I Need To Hire a Sugar Land Divorce Attorney?
There are many steps involved in the process of a divorce. Sometimes, people believe that opting for an uncontested divorce without an attorney is the easiest way to handle the process. However, what people forget is that a divorce decree is permanent, and it is extremely difficult to modify this agreement once signed by a Judge.
Because of this, we strongly advise all Sugar Land residents to hire an experienced divorce attorney if they are going through a divorce. If you have been married for a long time, have community assets, or have children involved, you need to make important decisions that will impact the rest of your life. If you have no legal experience, it is difficult to understand your entitlements and what you need to do to get a fair settlement.
A divorce attorney can help you by taking over the legal proceedings and dealing with them on your behalf. From the beginning, your lawyer will ensure that your best interests are protected. They will advise you on Texas divorce laws, spell out what you are entitled to, help you draw up a petition, act as your advocate during mediation proceedings, and help write up a final petition.
Regardless of the type of divorce you are going through, your divorce lawyer will help you every step of the way. Without the backing of an attorney, it is difficult to view a divorce objectively. You could lose out on assets and access to your children if you go through the process without legal representation.
What Are the Steps in the Process of a Divorce in Sugar Land, TX? – Contact Skillern Firm
Deciding to get a divorce with your spouse is an extremely challenging decision. Divorces are often full of sacrifice, loss, and emotions. The most important thing when going through this process is to ensure that you protect your well being and look after your best interests. Hiring a Sugar Land divorce lawyer can help ease the stress of a divorce, knowing that you are in expert hands.
The divorce lawyers at Skillern Firm have been helping Sugar Land citizens with divorce cases for many years. Our lawyers know how personal divorce is and we take the time to understand what makes each case unique. Our divorce attorneys will be with you through every step of your divorce, ensuring that your best interests are protected at all costs.
Contact a Sugar Land divorce lawyer at Skillern Firm today by calling 936-213-8479.