Twelve Things to Know About the Divorce Process

Many people see the “writing on the wall” long before they contact an attorney’s office seeking a divorce.  Before you contact an attorney, it can be helpful to know what to expect from the divorce process. Here are a few things that clients wish they had known BEFORE they contacted our office:

1. Obtain both you and your spouse’s financial documents to help your legal team start your divorce process and get a clear picture of your financial situation. This includes any paystubs, tax returns from the last two years, retirement account statements, 401k statements, bank statements, credit card statements, car notes, deeds to home or land and titles to vehicles that either of you have. Getting copies of these documents prior to filing for divorce will save you time and money in the long run.

2. The more honest you are with your legal team the easier it will be. We are a very understanding group and have heard most things. If you don’t feel you disclosing something to us verbally, you can write it down in our “Sensitive Topics” document. Our attorneys prefer to know the “dirt” ahead of time, so they know what to do if the time comes for it to be disclosed to the court.

3. Once you have met with your attorney and retained the firm, your legal team takes over your case. Documents are drafted and filed with the court. Your spouse may be served, and we will request a hearing date. Your first hearing for Temporary Orders is usually within 2 weeks of the initial filing.

4. Your spouse may or may not hire an attorney to represent their interests. If they do, it’s much easier to work with another attorney than a person without the legal knowledge necessary to reach a fair and equitable agreement.

5. Have an idea of what will work for you and your family before your first hearing. You likely know how much money is necessary to maintain the status quo in your home and what is in your children’s best interest when it comes to a possession and access schedule.

6. Usually, your initial filing includes a request for Temporary Orders. Temporary Orders are the “rules to live by” until either a final agreement is reached through negotiation or mediation or until further order of the Court. These can address issues such as child support, spousal support, temporary use of the home and vehicles, and possession and access of the children. These can be done without going to court if the parties can agree or can be decided by a judge at a hearing.


7. The next step is usually an informal exchange of information and documents between parties, or a more formal exchange known as “Discovery”. Discovery is expensive, but you can make it less expensive by giving your legal team organized and clearly marked documents.

8. Discovery includes written requests for information including a “production and inspection” of documents. You can ask a total of 25 questions that you want the other party to answer thoroughly. You can also ask the other party to be “admit or deny” an unlimited number of things. You can additionally request the other party produce financial and other documents that will be relevant to the divorce.

9. Consider what your ideal outcome will be, and what the worst offer you would be willing to accept would be. This will give you some wiggle room for negotiation. Texas is a Community Property state which means nearly everything earned or acquired during the marriage will be split between you and your spouse, and not necessarily equally. Know what is important to your spouse and what they will be willing to negotiate on.

10. Mediation is where most cases settle. Parties attend with their attorneys in hopes of reaching a final agreement. Mediation is a long process and can take a full day if parties have a lot of issues to resolve. A mediator will go from room to room to hear both party’s concerns and offers and will present ideas of how to settle.

11. If mediation is successful, the agreement is submitted to the court for approval and upon approval the divorce is finalized.

12. If mediation is not successful, then the next step is a trial where a judge will hear and decide unresolved issues and will issue a Final Decree of Divorce.

A divorce can be done very easily if the parties are willing to set aside the emotions and anger and focus on the end result. Knowing that you have a very knowledgeable and caring legal team is priceless.