If you and your spouse are beginning your divorce proceedings, you may wonder what to expect. While you may be able to learn the general process, each divorce has its unique elements, so there is no way to predict what will happen with certainty.
One thing to anticipate is the document you will receive when it is all over. If you and your spouse are using an alternative method of dispute resolution, such as mediation, you will have a good idea of the outcome as you go along since the two of you will be making the decisions as you negotiate. However, with a divorce trial, you will be waiting for the final decree from a Texas judge.
Is everything clear?
The decree is the formal order issued when the court grants your divorce. When you have signed the decree and the judge stamps his or her approval on it, your divorce becomes final. The divorce decree will contain the details of the judge’s decisions based on the testimony and evidence you and your spouse presented in court. In most divorce trials, the judge rules on the following basic questions:
- How will you and your spouse split your marital property and debts?
- Who will have custody of the children, and how will the children divide their time fairly between you and your ex?
- Will one spouse make support payments to the other and, if so, how much and for how long?
- Will one spouse contribute financially to the support of the children?
Following your hearing, the judge in your case will take some time, typically a week or two, to review the facts of the case and issue a divorce decree. Your attorney should notify you that your decree is ready for your signature, but don’t be too hasty to sign it. Take the time to read it carefully, looking out for any errors, even typographical errors or spelling mistakes.
You will also want to be certain the language in the decree is clear and precise. For example, a decree that calls for “reasonable” division of parenting time is rather vague, and you may know your ex well enough to know he or she will take advantage of this lack of clarity. Reviewing the document with your attorney before signing it may help you catch these issues before the divorce is finalized to avoid future trips to court to modify an unsatisfactory decree.