Monday, May 24, 2010

When is the Best Time to File?

The easy answer is the first day of each month, but that would be wrong. There's no automatic "best date" for any type of case. When trying to decide when to file your case, here are some things to consider:

1. What process are you using? If you use Collaborative Law, the timing is a much less significant issue. In a Collaborative case, the parties set their own schedule. In Texas, they can act without court supervision for up to two years. If the case is filed as a litigation case, then other time factors come into play.

2. Is there a significant ending deadline? If the case needs to be resolved by a certain date, then you can work backwards from that to figure out when you must file, but generally, you need to file as soon as possible. For a divorce case, don't forget the 60-day waiting period from the date of filing until the earliest possible date to have the divorce granted.

3. Has someone moved? For a divorce, to be able to file, one of the parties must have lived in Texas for at least 6 months and the county you file in for at least 90 days. If someone has moved to a different county or state, the residency requirements may also affect when you can or should file.

4. Are there statutes of limitations involved? For some types of law suits or issues, there may be a statute of limitations that would prohibit your filing something after a certain date. You should discuss any such issues with your attorney.

5. Are there post-final hearing deadlines? If you are wanting to file an appeal or a motion for new trial, for example, be sure you work with your attorney and promptly comply with all deadlines. There are various requirements for different steps to take after a final ruling has been made.

6. Are there fact-related deadlines? Is school about to start? Are certain bills due now or at a certain later date? Do you want the divorce final before the end of the year for tax purposes? Is there a deadline to accept or reject a promotion or job transfer? All can be compelling reasons to take action right away.

7. Are you prepared to file? Do you have the information, witnesses and fees you need to file now? Is there time to prepare? Make sure you work with your attorney to determine the best timing for filing any family law litigation.

There are obviously a number of questions that need to be considered in deciding when to file. You should have a thorough discussion of all the factors with your attorney. Make sure your attorney is aware of all your concerns and objectives.

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