A petition for divorce will start the process. All lawyers must e-file petitions while non-lawyers can still hand file. All cases in Harris county are confidential for 30 days. Public access and thus online access can be made after the case has been on file for 30 days. If you think that your spouse is not going to want the divorce, then you should serve them with the lawsuit at the time the case is filed. Should you feel that your spouse is going to fight the divorce, then is it advisable to set up some rules or temporary orders in the divorce. Most cases are brought to trial within 8 months to a year. This would be the 1st trial setting. Some of the courts are so backlogged that it is sometimes several more months or even up to a year before you get to trial on your case. The 311th is probably the worst. Then the 309th. Both courts are known to reset you multiple times before you can have a final trial if you need more than 1/2 of an day. If you want a jury trial, then it can take up to a year before you get time with the court in both the 311th and 309th.
During the time from filing of the case until the case is brought to trial, you do what is called discovery. You pull records, develop a theory of your case with your attorney, and prepare for final trial. Discovery is expensive and time consuming. You may want to hire professionals to appraise business or to mental health evaluations. You will also get together a proposed property division and an inventory of the assets and liability of the community estate.
Prior to trying the case, some of your judges requires mediation. Mediation is a settlement conference. Rules of evidence do not apply at mediation. Mediation can be good if you are prepared and both sides act in good faith. Also, having a mediator who is a family law attorney also helps.
Should you fail to settle the case, well then you will bring your contested issues to Judge or Jury to decide. A decision will be made. Once you receive the decision, you may want to appeal that decision. This is another process for which can take another 1 year to complete.
Michael Busby Jr. is a divorce & family law attorney, who practices in Harris and Fort Bend Counties, Texas. He has been in practice for over 13 years and has tried over 300 cases. He is familiar with the policy and procedures of the Harris and Fort Bend County Texas Divorce Courts. Our office is open until 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for working folks.
Michael Busby Jr.
Visit me on the web at www.busby-lee.com