After hiring a divorce attorney in a contested divorce, an Original Petition for Divorce is filed on your behalf. Your case is then assigned to a district court in the county in which you live. Lawrence Law Firm handles contested divorces in Harris County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Galveston County.
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
Our divorce attorneys will also advise to serve a Temporary Restraining Order on your spouse at this time. This is a common practice. A Temporary Restraining Order, or TRO, should not be confused with a criminal protective order, and does not imply any misbehavior by you or your spouse. A TRO is a series of injunctions that require both parties to maintain the status quo. Both parties are enjoined from making any large or unusual purchases, selling any major assets, destroying any documents that may be relevant in the divorce, and changing the children's school or daycare 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. Jason will always try to keep the process as simple as possible. Filing a TRO helps to achieve this goal.
Temporary Orders Hearing
If there are any issues that need to be addressed early in the case, for example, if the parties can't agree who should live in the house, where the children should live, who should pay the bills, a Temporary Orders Hearing may be necessary. At a Temporary Orders Hearing, a judge will hear from the parties and any other witnesses in the case, and make a temporary ruling on issues like use of property, custody and child and spousal support. Jason also advises this method to keep emotions at bay and focus on what is legally best for both parties. This ruling is not final, but will only remain in place until the divorce is finalized. Many people are able to come to a temporary agreement without attending court, and several courts require that the parties attempt to mediate before a Temporary Orders Hearing.
For many individuals, especially those who have a high net worth estate, discovery is a critical portion of the contested divorce process. During the discovery process both sides are allowed to ask questions and request documents from the other party. Jason Lawrence will work with you to prepare your documents, as well as review and explain the documents provided by your spouse. This allows a fair division of property as it forces parties to disclose all assets and liabilities.
Many courts in the greater Houston area require mediation as part of the legal process of divorce. During mediation, a neutral third party mediator will help the parties reach an agreement. Your attorney will be present during mediation to protect your interests and help you negotiate effectively. Agreements reached during the mediation process are binding and enforceable. Once a mediated settlement agreement is signed, neither party can change his/her mind. Thus, Lawrence Law Firm will take their time to make certain you are fully aware of the permanency of the agreement and approve of all the elements.
In the event the parties cannot reach an agreement, a final trial on the merits will be held. At the final trial all of the issues and evidence will be presented to a judge or a jury for a decision. At Lawrence Law Firm, Jason is an experienced trial lawyer who can help you effectively present your side of the story.