What to Expect in a Harris County Marriage Dissolution Case
Divorce’s moral acceptability rating recently hit an all-time high. More people might see divorce as a legitimate way to end a marriage, but that fact does not affect the emotional and financial issues most divorcing parties face. Sometimes, these issues are overwhelming. Knowing what to expect in a divorce case helps people make the best possible choices for themselves and their families.
Not all marriage dissolution matters follow this same outline, mostly because almost all divorce cases settle out of court. That settlement could occur very early in the process or literally on the courthouse steps. So, a Houston divorce lawyer must be more than an effective advocate. An attorney must be a good negotiator as well. That means knowing when to compromise and when to stand firm.
Initiating a Divorce Case
At least one party must reside in the county where the divorce is filed. This seemingly simple requirement causes some issues in sprawling urban areas like Houston. Many communities are partially in one county and partially in another one. A mistake at this point usually creates a costly delay.
Additionally, the filing party must give the non-filing party official notice of the action. Typically, this notice involves personal service. If the filing party does not know the other party’s address, the other party refuses to accept notice, or there other extenuating circumstances, service via posting or publication is available. A few judges, although not many, also allow service via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
The Temporary Hearing
Approximately two weeks after the non-filing party receives notice, the judge typically holds a temporary hearing. So, attorneys have little time to prepare for this critical hearing.
Temporary hearings are important because judges make important decisions regarding child custody, spousal support, and other issues. Once these decisions are made, it is rather difficult to undo them. Additionally, the temporary orders often are the blueprint for the final orders. So, aggressive representation at this early stage is often critical to a successful resolution.
Temporary orders usually contain personal protection provisions. Frequently, these provisions are generic statements that are rather bland. If the facts justify them, judges routinely add additional provisions, such as supervised visitation and no-contact orders.
As mentioned, most divorce matters include financial and emotional issues. So, divorce discovery usually covers financial and emotional matters.
Financial discovery could be simple and straightforward, such as an exchange of recent pay stubs. In other cases, financial discovery is much more complex. That’s especially true if anyone is self-employed and/or there is evidence that one party is concealing assets.
Emotional discovery usually involves a social services investigation. Judges routinely order such investigations if child custody is contested. The social worker’s recommendations are not legally binding, but they usually sway judges one was or the other.
Resolving a Divorce Case
Many divorce cases settle during mediation. A third-party mediator, who is usually an unaffiliated Harris County divorce lawyer, tries to facilitate a settlement. Most mediation sessions last a full day. If both parties are willing to make some compromises, mediation is usually successful.
Reach Out to a Diligent Lawyer
Divorce usually involves complex emotional and financial issues. For a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Houston, contact Lindamood & Robinson, P.C., Attorneys at Law. Convenient payment plans are available.