AGREED DIVORCE, UNCONTESTED DIVORCE, CONTESTED DIVORCE - DALLAS LAWYER THOMAS P FINLEY
Divorce happens to many people each year and most if not all divorces contain stress of some kind for one or more of the parties or family members on at least one issue that must be resolved in the divorce case. Divorce Lawyer Thomas P Finley has been a lawyer in Dallas for over 25 years and understands that although divorce is a litigation case, divorce litigation contains unique issues that are personal, emotional, and disruptive to lifestyle in addition to issues such as children, property, and personal and business finances.
Divorce attorney Thomas P Finley represents individuals in all types of divorce matters. I represent clients in uncontested divorce, agreed divorce, contested divorce with property disputes, and collaborative law divorce. I understand that the divorce process is a serious decision and understand that clients involved in divorce law litigation want and need aggressive but compassionate representation from their lawyer while utilizing all the tools and options available such as negotiation, mediation, collaborative law and trial.
Each divorce case is different in that the parties come into the divorce process with varying levels of ability to discuss the issues in dispute with their spouse. Divorce cases often involve issues and disputes involving a fair and equitable division of the community property, custody, child support and visitation. These issues can often be agreed upon between the parties early in the divorce process which results in an agreed divorce and resolved without a contested trial. However, some parties are unable to agree early in the divorce process which requires the contested issues to be resolved later in the process either through formal mediation or a trial before the Court. I represent clients in divorce matters whether uncontested, agreed, or contested and work personally with my clients at all stages throughout the process to assist in them with a fair and equitable result.
Divorce cases are sometimes complicated depending on the issues in dispute. Many times clients believe they will have an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is not an uncontested divorce if at the beginning of the divorce there are any issues that are disputed or not discussed and agreed upon that must be resolved before completion of the divorce such as: custody of the child or children, child support, the amount of child support to be paid, insurance, visitation, division of real property, division of personal property, division of business property, separate property, community property, and any other issue between the spouses that must be resolved before the divorce is final. Dallas Divorce Lawyer Thomas P Finley can assist you with an uncontested divorce and an uncontested divorce is the least expensive type of divorce. Contact me for a consultation.
Uncontested divorce and agreed divorce are sometimes referred to as the same. Although a divorce may not be an uncontested divorce at the time of filing the lawsuit, sometimes parties early in the process of divorce litigation after filing the original petition reach agreements on all of their unresolved issues relating to custody, child support, and division of the marital estate at which time the divorce becomes an agreed divorce. When the parties have an agreed divorce, an Agreed Final Decree of Divorce is drafted by the attorneys for the parties to sign and the Agreed Decree of Final Divorce is presented to the Court with one or more of the parties for a final “prove-up”. Agreed divorce is much less costly than a contested divorce matter and Dallas Divorce Lawyer Thomas P Finley can assist you with an agreed divorce.
If the divorce is not an uncontested divorce or an agreed divorce then it becomes a contested divorce litigation matter which will necessitate a trial unless resolved by other alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation.
BASIC OUTLINE OF THE DIVORCE PROCESS - TEXAS DIVORCE
Original Petition for Divorce
The divorce process begins by filing the Original Petition for Divorce which is a lawsuit containing the facts, allegations, and requested relief in the litigation. The party filing the petition is known as the “Petitioner” and the non-filing spouse is known as the “Respondent”. If the non-filing spouse also files a counter-petition, that spouse is known as the “Counter-Petitioner”. After filing a petition, it must then be formally delivered to the other spouse by either service of process. Sometimes the petition can be delivered less formally by Waiver of Citation if the Respondent will agree to sign the Waiver before a notary public and return it to the Court. If a temporary restraining order or a hearing on temporary orders are necessary then formal service of process will usually be required.
One or both spouses may feel their circumstances merit the court issue orders between the date the divorce petition is filed and the divorce is granted which are called temporary orders. Temporary orders are court orders that remain effective during the divorce process. In addition, sometimes spouses may request a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) if to prevent the possible transfer or disposition of property and/or prevent harassment or other specific actions. A TRO is only valid for 14 days. After notice and a hearing, the matters in a TRO can become a temporary injunction or temporary orders that will remain in effect until your divorce is granted or by other court order. As a general rule some temporary orders, after notice and hearing, are usually granted upon request and the Court will make them mutual between the parties. Temporary orders can also be agreed upon by the parties. Temporary orders are made on issues such as the determination of payment of bills, which spouse shall remain in the family home, temporary conservatorship of the children, temporary child support, attorney's fees, financial inventories, producing documents, and other matters. The Dallas County Family Courts now have a standing order for all divorce cases that protects the children, pets, property of the parties and dictates the conduct of the parties during the divorce.
Discovery is usually conducts by both parties for the purpose of learning from each other what is relevant to the lawsuit. Some common discovery methods are request for disclosure (general information), depositions (oral testimony before a court reporter); interrogatories (written questions); requests for production of documents (such as tax returns, bank account records, deeds, etc.); or requests for admissions. Not all forms of discovery are used in every case and which forms are used depends on many factors that should be discussed between attorney and client. If you are served with discovery requests or a notice to take your deposition, it is important discovery requests are responded to properly and it is advised to consult a lawyer.
Settlement, Mediation, Collaborative Law
After both sides in a divorce are satisfied they have enough information, through discovery or otherwise, the recommended next step would be to try and resolve the divorce case by agreement. Settlement can sometimes be accomplished between the parties and their lawyers. Another method is through Mediation. Mediation can be agreed upon and many times in Dallas County family courts mediation will be ordered by the Court prior to trial. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party acts as a facilitator to assist in resolving a dispute between two or more parties. It is an approach to conflict resolution in which the parties generally communicate directly. The role of the mediator is to facilitate communication between the parties, help them focus on the real issues of the dispute, and generate options for settlement. A mediator may not impose the mediator’s judgment on the issues for that of the parties. The goal of mediation is for the parties themselves to arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute. As with all Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedures, the mediation process is flexible; variables affecting the process include the style of the mediator and the communication mode of the parties. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 154.023 for a definition of mediation.
If settlement is not possible on one or more of the issues in the divorce, either party can request that the Court set the case for trial. At trial the Court will hear all the properly introduced evidence in the case it has been presented and will make a ruling. The ruling of the Court in trial will then be written into a document called the Decree of Divorce. If the parties reach an agreement as to all the issues in the divorce case before trial the parties, usually through their attorneys, will draft an Agreed Decree of Divorce signed by all the parties and lawyers and at least one of the parties must appear before the Judge to give sworn testimony. This appearance on an Agreed Decree of Divorce is known as a “prove up” and takes very little time. If the Court determines the testimony and agreements meets the legal requirements of divorce the divorce will be granted.
Free Initial Telephone Consultation with Dallas Divorce Attorney - Dallas Divorce Lawyer Thomas Finley at (214) 720-0101 is encouraged to discuss your matter and the need to schedule an appointment. You may also CONTACT MEthrough this web site and I will respond to discuss your matter as soon as possible.
Thomas Finley is a Lawyer-Attorney serving clients in Dallas, North Dallas, Preston Hollow, University Park, Highland Park, Plano, Frisco, Carrollton, Richardson, Duncanville, De Soto, Cedar Hill, Lancaster, Midlothian, Garland, Rockwall, Allen, McKinney, and both Dallas County and Collin County.
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