A divorce starts officially when one of the spouses files a petition for divorce before a district court located in the county where one or both of the spouses resides.
The petition is filed before the family law district courts in Dallas and Tarrant County. In Collin and Denton County, it is filed before a district court with general jurisdiction.
The “standing orders” of the county take effect right after the petition is filed. These standing orders differ in every county. It is a good idea to have a copy of the standing orders in hand prior to filing the divorce.
If another restraining action calls for other than the standing order, then the spouse who files the petition should include a temporary restraining order (TRO) application. Restraining action in excess of the county’s standing order can be done “ex parte”. Ex parte does not require the presence of the other party at the hearing. All the judges of counties Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant follow the same policy. If the other party is represented by his or her lawyer, that lawyer must be given the opportunity to present its argument against the TRO application.
For contesting a divorce, one of the parties always requests for an injunction hearing, even absent a temporary restraining order. The injunction hearing is where the parties ask the judge matters like child support, visitation order, temporary alimony, temporary use of assets and temporary alimony. The hearing is usually within fourteen (14) days from the day the petition was filed. Generally, hearings will be limited by the judges to only an hour, save for cases with unusual circumstances.
After filing the petition, the other parties must receive formal notice by way of a citation. This citation can be waived by filing an answer. Next, both sides will move on to the discovery phase. This includes requests for production and inspection, requests for admission, written interrogatories, depositions, and request for disclosure. If the family has a business, then one of the parties may ask for the appointment of a receiver who will run the business. An independent auditor can also review the books of the family business.
The court orders mediation between the parties. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution wherein an independent party will intervene in the dispute between the parties and will try to minimize, or better yet, resolve both the parties’ differences. However, if there is no settlement reached, the trial of the case will take place. The judge will decide on the verdict and sign a final decree. Either side can request a new trial, or appeal the case.