How a Texas Divorce Case works

The Beginning- The Initial Filing

After hiring a divorce attorney in a contested divorce, an Original Petition for Divorce is filed on your behalf. Your case is then randomly assigned to a District Court or County Court at Law (if your county has one) in the county in which you live. The Bloodworth Law Firm, P.L.L.C., handles contested divorces all over the State of Texas, however, we concentrate our practice in several Southeast Texas counties: Montgomery County, Walker County, Harris County, Polk County, San Jacinto County, Trinity County, Grimes County, Madison County, and Leon County, Texas. After the Petition is filed, a copy of the Petition is served on your spouse by a process server. If your spouse files the Original Petition, you must file an Answer as well as a Counter-Petition. It is usually of little legal consequence which party files first.

Temporary Restraining Orders

The Bloodworth Law Firm, P.L.L.C., will also advise to serve a Temporary Restraining Order on your spouse when the divorce case is filed. This is a common practice. In fact, many courts have adopted 'Standing Restraining Orders' that become effective the moment a divorce or child custody case is filed, whether you ask for a Temporary Restraining Order or not. A Temporary Restraining Order, or TRO, is not the same as a criminal 'protective order', and does mean there has been any misbehavior by you or your spouse. A TRO is a series of prohibitions that require both parties to maintain the current status (status quo) of their conduct toward each other. Both parties are enjoined from destroying any property or documents that may be relevant in the divorce, changing the children's school or daycare, making any large or unusual purchases, selling any major assets, destroying the other spouse's clothing, cherished possessions, or sentimental items, among other restrictions. The purpose of the TRO is to prevent one spouse from making any large changes without the consent of the other spouse. The Bloodworth Law Firm, P.L.L.C., will always try to keep the process as simple as possible. Filing a TRO helps to prevent bad conduct and contributes to a peaceful resolution of the divorce.

The Temporary Orders Hearing

If you and your spouse cannot agree on who should live in the house, where the children should live, who should pay what bills of the household, a Temporary Orders Hearing may be necessary. In a Temporary Orders Hearing, which is designed to be short, a judge will hear from the parties and possibly other witnesses which are necessary for the judge to make a temporary ruling on issues like use of property, temporary child custody, spousal and child support. The temporary orders ruling the judge makes is not final, but will only remain in place until the divorce is finalized or if circumstances change significantly. Many people can come to a temporary agreement without having a temporary order hearing, some courts, especially those in Montgomery County, require that the parties attend mediation before a Temporary Orders Hearing. Many times, parties who request a temporary order hearing, have discussions at the courthouse while awaiting their turn for a hearing and reach agreement on all the issues in their divorce case. Some judges will allow the parties to testify as to the terms of their agreement and take that testimony 'under advisement'; then when the necessary 60 day waiting period is over the judge may sign a Final Decree of Divorce that has been prepared, circulated, and signed by the parties and their attorney's. In this way, many times parties who asked for and attended a Temporary Orders hearing get their divorce faster than people who just file for divorce and do not request temporary orders.

Discovery

For many divorce cases, especially those who have a 'high net worth estate', 'discovery' is a critical portion of the contested divorce process. Trial by "ambush" is not allowed in Texas, unless you fail to exercise your right to 'discovery'. A smart lawyer doesn't ask a question at trial that he doesn't already know the answer to. The way the lawyer gets those answers is by doing 'discovery'. During the discovery process both sides can ask questions, in writing(Interrogatories) and in person(Depositions), and request documents from the other party. Your lawyer will work with you to prepare your documents, if they are requested, as well as review and explain the documents provided by your spouse. By conducting discovery, and spending valuable time examining the information provided, you and your attorney can many times obtain documents, papers, and things to be used as exhibits at trial. Many times, you discover valuable information, in the discovery phase, that dramatically increases your opportunity to win at trial. The discovery phase allows for a 'just and right' (fair) division of property as it forces parties to disclose all assets and liabilities. If you, for whatever the reason, do not spend the time and money on the discovery phase, you may be unable to determine if the settlement offer made to you is "fair" because you cannot determine if a 'deal' is really a "good deal" for you if you don't know the total that was available to be included in the deal.

Mediation

Many courts require mediation, as part of the process of divorce. Mediation, is a process where a neutral third party, called a mediator, who has specialized training in resolving disputes, will help the you and your spouse reach an agreement. Your attorney will be present during mediation to protect your legal interests and help you negotiate effectively. Agreements reached during the mediation process are binding and enforceable. If the parties agree to make the mediated settlement agreement irrevocable, then when the Irrevocable (Unchangeable) Mediated Settlement Agreement is signed, neither party can change his/her mind. This is why you will probably want to conduct the 'discovery' aspect of your case, and take your time to make certain you are fully aware of the full impact of the agreement and are prepared to live with it.

Final Trial

In the event the parties cannot reach an agreement; a final trial be held. At the final trial, all the issues and evidence will be presented to a judge or a jury for a decision. William Douglas Bloodworth II, is a very experienced trial lawyer who can help you effectively present your side of the story, to a judge or a jury. Mr. Bloodworth, is comfortable in the courtroom, and is not afraid of any one. William D. Bloodworth II, is an accomplished public speaker, trial strategist, and has successfully battled some of the largest law firms in the nation, obtaining very favorable and satisfying results for his clients.