Your divorce will be just as unique as your marriage was, and there is no telling what direction it will take once you begin the process. The basics of the divorce process in Texas, however, are the same for everyone, and better understanding this process may help your divorce proceed more smoothly.
One of You Files
The petitioner in your case is the person who files the Original Petition for Divorce with the court, which begins the divorce process. The other spouse becomes the respondent, and he or she must be served with a copy of the divorce papers. If you and your spouse are in agreement in relation to pursuing the divorce, the spouse who is the respondent can sign a waiver that bypasses the need to be served.
The Standard Temporary Restraining Order
The spouse who files for divorce can, at the time of filing, request that the court issue its standard Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), which is a court order that tells both sides not to disappear marital assets before they are divided equitably between you upon divorce, and that requires both sides to treat one another civilly.
A primary component of your divorce involves financial matters, and it is very likely that you and your divorcing spouse will need to exchange information and documentation related to your marital financials. This is known as the discovery phase. Once both sides are satisfied that they have all the necessary information, the settlement phase of the divorce process begins.
Now, you and your divorcing spouse can get down to the business of settling your divorce terms. The terms that must be resolved remain the same in every divorce, and they include (as applicable):
The division of marital property
Child custody arrangements (called conservatorship in Texas)
Alimony (called spousal maintenance in Texas)
When it comes to negotiating terms that you are both willing to sign off on, you have options that include:
Reaching compromises between yourselves (with the professional guidance of your respective divorce attorneys)
Allowing your respective divorce attorneys to negotiate terms on behalf of each of you
Attending mediation – at which a neutral third-party who is a professional mediator will help you find common ground and hammer out terms you can both live with
If you have any terms that remain unresolved after you have exhausted these options, you’ll need to have the court address them.
At trial, the court will rule on those terms that you have been unable to resolve between yourselves. On matters that relate to your children, the court is always guided by their best interests, and – overall – the court will take wide-ranging factors into consideration in making determinations on your behalf.