Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting on the 60-Day Waiting Period

One of the most common misperceptions regarding divorce is the idea that a divorce is, or must be, completed when the 60-day waiting period is up. Under Texas law, the parties must wait for 60 days, beginning with the date they file for divorce, before they can be divorced. Even then, the divorce doesn't happen automatically.

There is actually much more to be done before the divorce can be finalized. That's not to say that the divorce won't be completed just after the 60 days is up. It only means that you can't just file for divorce, wait for the 60 days to pass and then be divorced without further action.

So, what needs to be done? Start by discussing the situation with your attorney. Make sure he/she knows you want the divorce over with as soon as possible. Here are some things that he or she will need your help on.

1. Your spouse must be notified "officially". You can serve papers on him/her or he/she can sign a Waiver and accept the papers. Most people won't sign a Waiver without having the opportunity to see and sign the final papers (decree). Serving papers is less friendly and more expensive. If you are trying to do a quick and friendly divorce, the Waiver is probably a better bet. If you can't find your spouse, talk to your attorney about your options.

2. You need to gather information and get it to your attorney. The attorney wants to make sure everything is properly covered by the final decree of divorce, so it is important that the attorney gets to review the details of your finances. In addition, the children, if there are any, must be provided for: allocation of the powers, rights and duties for raising the children; visitation; and child support. The attorney depends on you to furnish the information and also to state what terms and arrangements you would prefer.

3. If you want a quick divorce, you and your spouse generally need to agree on the details of how to divide things up and how to deal with the children. It's not enough to just turn over information to the attorney. Your attorney can suggest some terms, but you and your spouse need to agree to those or come up with variations that you both agree on. Usually, the more complex the issues, the longer it takes to resolve them. You can help speed up the process by reaching agreements with your spouse.

Divorces are not automatic in Texas. Attorneys can't just file papers and wait for the time to run. We need to get information and suggestions from clients. If you are anxious to get your divorce completed quickly, you need to help your attorney by providing information and details on how you would like things resolved. You can be divorced in just over 60 days, but plan on actively working with your attorney to accomplish that.