Preparation is a key to a successful outcome for your divorce. Each party needs to gather a lot of information and help the attorneys organize and interpret it. Sometimes the parties are in the best position to figure out what their spouse (or the other party) is doing or has done. Sometimes experts are hired to help gather and interpret data. Clients who are active in gathering, organizing and explaining information can save themselves time and money.
Discovery is a formal process for gathering and exchanging information between the attorneys for each party. Much is in writing, but it also includes oral depositions where questions are answered under oath just as if the witness were in court. Inspections of documents, objects and property can also be ordered. Clients can have an important role in gathering, organizing, analyzing and explaining information. There are time deadlines for producing information and responses usually have to be updated later as new information becomes available.
If there’s going to be a hearing or trial, each side usually needs to have witnesses available to testify about a variety of topics. Sometimes, experts are needed, especially on financial or parent-child issues. Often, “lay witnesses” (family, friends, acquaintances, etc.) can testify about what they personally know that relates to a contested issue. On temporary matters in Tarrant County, judges often severely limit the number of witnesses allowed to testify. Your attorney will help you determine what witnesses will be helpful to your case.
Texas is one of the few states that permits a jury to decide some issues in a family law case. A jury is sometimes used in a child custody case, a suit to terminate parental rights or in some property issues. You should check with your attorney to find out if a jury could be used and whether it would be advisable.
In Tarrant County, Texas, it usually takes a long time to get to a final hearing if there needs to be a trial. It is usually at least a year after the suit is filed before it reaches trial. In most cases, it is better to settle than wait around for a trial. On the other hand, if someone doesn’t really want a divorce or other matter to be finalized, waiting for a trial date will buy some time.
Most family law matters are billed on the basis of the hours worked because of tradition and the difficulty of estimating/predicting what will need to be done. Situations and needs change and there’s often little one can do to control the other party. If another party is “crazy” or just plain mad, they can cause a lot of trouble, which translates into greater cost for everyone.