On June 29, 2013
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A Texas divorce involves both the division of the parties’ property and, if children are involved, child custody and child support. Below is list of frequently asked questions regarding divorce.
How long will a divorce take?
The Court may not grant a divorce before the 60th day after the divorce is filed. In cases where a spousal agreement is reached, a divorce can be completed in approximately 60 days. In cases where the issues are contested and a final trial is necessary, a divorce may take several months depending on the complexity of the case.
How much will a divorce cost?
The cost of a divorce depends on the complexity of the issues and the level of hostility between parties. An estimate of the cost will be provided during an initial consultation. In all contested cases, work is charged using an hourly rate. A monthly itemized list of work performed on the case is provided to the client.
Can my spouse and I hire the same lawyer?
No. To avoid any conflict of interest, an attorney may only represent one party in a divorce.
What is separate property, and how does it differ from community property?
Separate property is property owned by a spouse before marriage, property acquired by a spouse as a gift or from an inheritance and/or any recovery by a spouse for personal injuries. Any property that is not separate property is considered community property. The Court may divide community property in the divorce. The Court may not award the separate property of one spouse to the other spouse in a divorce.
What are Temporary Orders?
Because there is a 60-day waiting period before a divorce may be completed and a contested divorce may take longer to complete, the Court may render temporary orders in a divorce. These hearings often take place shortly after the divorce is filed. After hearing from both parties, their attorneys and any witnesses, the Court can render a temporary order for child support, possession and access to the children, temporary possession of property, and spousal maintenance. The Court may make additional orders that it sees fit to preserve the parties’ property and protect the parties’ children. In most cases these orders stay in place until the divorce is completed.
What if I need to change my divorce decree in the future?
In most cases a division of property in a final divorce decree cannot be changed. The provisions regarding children in a divorce decree including conservatorship, possession and access, and child support may be changed at a later date if the circumstances of the parents or children have changed.
In a collaborative divorce, the parties strive to reach a fair settlement through a series of meetings (sometimes called joint sessions) between the two parties and their lawyers, and in some instances, neutral experts. The primary focus of these meetings is to identify the priorities, goals, needs and interests of the parties, and help them progress towards and create a settlement consistent with the parties’ determinations. The parties make their own decisions based on their own standards.
There is a parallel between collaborative law and mediation, in that both are facilitative processes. However, in collaborative law the parties are fully informed about the law and the consequences of various options and their advocates facilitate the negotiations.
The key document in a collaborative case is the participation agreement. It is a contract signed by the participants that sets forth the rules for the process. The parties and lawyers agree that:
- The lawyers will not litigate the case. If the process fails and litigation is the only recourse, the original attorneys must withdraw and the parties must retain new lawyers (the “disqualification” provision);
- Neither party will take advantage of mistakes by the other side;
- The parties will freely disclose all pertinent information and will not hide any material facts;
- What is said in the settlement meetings remains confidential;
- All experts will be neutral and hired jointly by both parties; and
- Everyone will behave courteously and in good faith.
The disqualification provision is a key element to a collaborative case. It ensures that the lawyers’ interests are aligned with the clients’ interests of reaching settlement by eliminating any incentive to take the case to trial. It also ensures that clients and lawyers work more diligently towards a negotiated resolution because there is a relatively high cost to ending the process prematurely.
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