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The Texas Divorce Rulebook – Part 1

Divorce Rulebook Part 1Although divorce cases may seem informal at times, they are treated as serious lawsuits. In Texas, petitioners must sue their spouses for divorce and parties must adhere to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Texas Family Code, and local rules applicable to each jurisdiction. This blog explores some important technicalities of the divorce process. 

Those pursuing possession and access should always:

  • Attempt to co-parent to the best of their abilities. Courts strongly encourage that parties share the financial, educational, and logistical responsibilities of parenthood;
  • Participate in granted visitation unless prevented by an emergency;
  • Pay all spousal and child support on time; 
  • Nurture and improve relationships with their children; and
  • Put children first

Those pursuing possession and access should never:

  • Withdraw or relocate children from school without a spouse’s consent;
  • Involve children in the litigation, particularly avoid speaking critically of a spouse in earshot of children;
  • Consume illicit drugs or drink alcohol excessively;
  • Deny a spouse ordered possession, access or visitation; and 
  • Intentionally leave a stable occupation or purposefully deny financial opportunities with the intent of reducing child or spousal support obligations. 

To promote a positive imagine to the court, parties should always:

  • Punctually attend all required hearings; and
  • Request that attorneys keep them informed on the status of their cases and practice active-listening during hearings.

To promote a positive imagine to the court, parties should never:

  • Make large withdrawals or hide assets from a spouse. 
  • Send threatening text messages, emails or voicemails;
  • Make disparaging remarks about a spouse to their friends, co-workers, or employers;
  • Damage personal property of a spouse; or
  • Change passwords to joint financial accounts.

To promote a positive attorney-client relationship, parties should always:

  • Speak truthfully with counsel;
  • Avoid “back-seat litigation.” Parties should conduct thorough research and seek to hire the best representation possible. However, after doing so, trust that advocates know the best ways to accomplish objectives; and
  • Consistently update attorneys with relevant incidents, facts, and documents. 

To promote a positive attorney-client relationship, parties should never:

  • Contact judges directly. In the interest of fairness, such “ex parte communication” is strictly forbidden under most circumstances;
  • Directly contact a spouse’s attorney if represented. Attorneys are best equipped to field difficult questions, navigate complicated legal issues, and ultimately promote the best interests of their clients;
  • Sign legal documents without full understanding and approval; or
  • Post social media content that reflects poorly upon household, character, or friends. 

To avoid unfavorable legal positions, parties should always: 

  • Cooperate with and act empathetically towards a spouse;
  • Clearly outline ideal-scenarios, then formulate realistic sets objectives; and
  • Attempt to resolve minor conflicts without court intervention. Parties should respect judges’ time and avoid burdening the court system with numerous small complaints. 

To avoid unfavorable legal positions, parties should never: 

  • Place tracking devices or search a spouse’s personal property (including password protected e-mails, and text messages) without consent;
  • Contact a spouse’s employer in an attempt to damage their reputation;
  • Violate court orders; or
  • Give children ultimatums requiring a choice between parents.

Parties attending mediation should always:

  • Patiently and fairly consider spouses’ proposals;
  • Expect to compromise when considering settlement offers. Neither party will accomplish all of their objectives; 
  • Pay for mediation in advance; and
  • Meet or speak with an attorney prior to mediation.

Parties attending mediation should never:

  • Agree to a settlement they do not understand or are uncomfortable with; or 
  • Neglect to inform an attorney of major factors prior to mediation.

Ready to learn more? Check out The Divorce Rulebook Part 2