Our Austin Divorce Lawyer Serves Residents of Travis, Williamson, Hays and All Surrounding Areas in Central Texas.
Let’s face it: no one enjoys divorce proceedings. There are, however, ways to make them easier. At Merritt Law, we are dedicated to helping you through this trying process. One of the ways we do that is by letting you know what to expect from the beginning to the end. We know that every case is different and yours is important to us, as are your desires and needs as an individual.
The First Step
First, you will meet with one of our experienced Travis County divorce lawyers. When you meet with us, the most important thing we do is we listen to you. While we have over 25 years of handling divorces in Travis, Williamson, Hays and other Central Texas Counties, one thing that we know is that no two cases are the same. There is no one size fits all divorce. We will listen and gather as much relevant information as possible so we can provide the most comprehensive representation possible.
Establishing Grounds for Divorce
Right from the start, we determine residency and grounds for your divorce. You or your spouse must have been a Texas resident for at least the preceding six months and a resident of your county in Texas for ninety consecutive days. Once these residency requirements have been determined, we move to deciding the grounds on which we can request the divorce be granted. Most divorces are filed under insupportability, commonly referred to as “no fault divorce.” In legal terms, we say, “the marriage has become insupportable because of personality conflicts which have destroyed the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship.” This is most likely the grounds we’ll use for your case. Other possible grounds are adultery, cruelty, incurable insanity, living apart for three years, abandonment, and conviction of a felony. If any of these are pertinent to your case, let us know, and we’ll move forward accordingly.
Protecting Your Children
Other information we will gather include information about your most prized possessions, your children and their care. We want to know what has really been happening, both recently and in the past. Often in a case that involves custody, a parent’s interaction with the children may change once the decision to divorce has been made. Some examples are they may spend more time with the kids, suddenly volunteer at the school, offer to take the kids to school or pick them up, attend doctor appointments, and show new curiosity about grades. When we listen to you we are listening for clues like these that assist us to represent you and give you advice as we go through the process.
Protecting Your Assets
The other part of the initial consultation is to discuss your assets. We listen to find out about property owned prior to marriage, which is usually separate property and property acquired during marriage, which is usually community property. As you can imagine, there are exceptions to both of these statements and we work though them with you.
Our goal is after the initial consultation to work with you to develop a set of goals for your case and a strategy of how we will achieve those goals; from possession of your children to support, to division of the assets.
Filing an Original Petition for Divorce
After that, in order to actually initiate the divorce, we file an Original Petition for Divorce. Whichever party files this first is called the Petitioner. The petition is just a statement that one party wishes to have the marriage dissolved. It also begins the 60-day waiting period before which a divorce can be finalized. But the filing of the petition first can also determine who puts evidence on first if there is a final trial.
We can discuss the timing of filing the petition with you to determine whether this might something that you should consider. The court needs proof that the other party, the Respondent, knows that divorce proceedings are underway, so the Respondent can file a Waiver or an Answer. If you are the Respondent and receive a Waiver from your spouse, do not sign it without first consulting your own attorney. While the Waiver usually just states that you have received a copy of the petition, it could contain additional language that could affect your rights as we move forward. You can also file an Answer, which we will prepare so the court knows you’ve received the Petition.
Settling Divorce Out of Court
Next, the attorneys at Merritt Law will try to settle your case out of court without the need for a Final Hearing, where a judge or jury decides the outcome of your case. We usually try to avoid that because you know your family best, and you know their future needs.
Divorce proceedings can be intimidating, but we hope that our more than 35 total years of experience will set you at ease. Our Travis County divorce lawyers will treat your case with the thoroughness and professionalism you and your family deserve. Contact us to schedule your initial consultation with our Travis County Divorce Lawyers.