Divorce raises a number of complex issues ranging from alimony and child support payments to custody and property disputes. There are so many factors at play that many people don't even think about the first step: filing for divorce. If you're wondering how to file for divorce, experienced divorce lawyers in towns like Sugar Land, TX know how divorce works and are here to help you.
Ask Divorce Lawyers: How Do I File for Divorce?
Step 1: Talk to a Divorce Lawyer in Sugar Land, TX
Before you file for divorce, it is imperative that you take some time to talk to a divorce attorney in Sugar Land, TX. Most people are unaware of how Texas divorce law works. Your lack of knowledge may lead to you walking away from a divorce with less than what you are entitled to. By getting quality legal representation, you ensure that your next steps are done properly. Never underestimate the complexity of the law.
A divorce attorney will sit down and hear your case to best determine how to proceed. You will ultimately need to present a suit to the court for dissolution of your marriage. However, this is more than a simple piece of paperwork. How you file suit can dramatically affect the way your divorce unfolds.
Step 2: Present a Suit for Dissolution of Marriage
In order to file for divorce, you must present a suit for dissolution of marriage to your local court. Texas state Family Code outlines this process and explains how you can file for divorce in Texas. Specifically, Title 1, Subtitle C., Chapter 6 explains all of the processes involved.
In these statutes, the state defines the terms and conditions for a divorce. If you need a divorce in Texas, you need to have been married in Texas or one of the two parties must currently reside in the state to request a divorce from a state court. It also specifies certain cases where dissolution is granted automatically, for instance, if you found out that your spouse was already married in another state.
Grounds for Dissolution
For most people, the most important part of the process will be to choose the grounds for filing for divorce. The same family code gives a number of reasons why someone could file for divorce. However, since Texas created a “no-fault” divorce system, the most common reason is “insupportability”. Often called irreconcilable differences, this method is used when only one party wants a divorce or when no other grounds are applicable.
The no-fault option was added back in 1997, which is relatively recent compared to other states' laws. Since then, several cities in Texas have the highest divorce rates in the nation. If you choose to file for divorce on one of the at-fault grounds, like adultery or cruelty, you will be expected to prove your claims in court.
Step 3: Aim to Reach Agreement
Rather than take your case to trial, it would be best to try to reach a mutual agreement with your spouse. If you both have divorce lawyers, they can sit down together to discuss these terms on your behalf. However, reaching an amicable agreement can be very difficult given all of the factors involved. Dividing properly fairly, determining child support and alimony payments, and dealing with custody issues make agreements hard to reach.
If you believe you will not be able to reach an agreement, you may want to ask your lawyer to request that your case remain closed, especially if you are prominent figures in the community. By default, Texas keeps divorce case records open to the public. If you are concerned about this, you could ask for your case to be sealed, which a talented lawyer can do.
Step 4: Prepare Your Case
If your divorce has to go to trial, then you will need to prepare your case. For instance, if you have a dispute over child custody, you will need to prove why you can provide a better environment for your children. Likewise, if you've filed for divorce on at-fault grounds, and your partner does not readily admit fault, you will need to produce evidence to sustain your claims.
Your lawyer will help you organize your case and can present it to the court in the best light possible. Experienced attorneys can help you find other arguments to use in court that you might not have thought of yourself.
Step 5: Present Your Case to the CourtThe court will set a date for your divorce trial. There, your attorney will present your case and you may be asked questions during the process. You will have already practiced for this, so your trial should go smoothly. Once the court renders a decision, you may have the opportunity to appeal if you are not satisfied.
Filing for divorce is never easy, but with the right support around you, it can be a much calmer process. Never go it alone in a divorce: always seek the help of experienced lawyers.