A relatively new process (used in Tarrant County) in which the parties work with an experienced social worker informally to try to settle child custody or visitation issues outside of court.
Agreement Incident to Divorce (AID)
A comprehensive agreement settling a divorce, including issues such as property division, debt payments, spousal and child support and custody, among other things. This agreement is separate from the decree of divorce.
A pleading filed to respond to another pleading.
A state office that oversees child support collection, including paternity testing. Cases filed by the Attorney General are generally heard in “IV D” courts, special courts set up for Attorney General cases to expedite them. These cases are most often to determine paternity and to set and collect child support. The Attorney General may intervene in a divorce, post-divorce case or in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship.
Certificate of Written Discovery
A written statement that discovery documents have been sent to the opposing party on a certain date. This is filed with the court.
An amount of money paid to the primary custodial parent for the support of the children.
Child Support Guidelines
Texas has child support standards to be used to calculate the amount of child support that should be paid. If the child support guidelines are not followed, reasons must be provided as to why there should be a deviation from the guidelines.
This is a document from the court clerk, which is served on (delivered to) the respondent (defendant). It notifies the respondent that a petition has been filed and tells the respondent to file an answer within a specified time period.
A party who jointly files a petition for divorce with the other spouse. Joint filing rarely occurs outside of Collaborative cases.
A process in which the parties agree to resolve disputes without going to court. They have a series of private meetings, agree to voluntarily disclose information to each other and cooperate in finding creative solutions to their problems. The parties must use different attorneys if they decided to go to court.
All property in the possession of the parties at the time of divorce, except for separate property.
A divorce or other family law matter where the parties do not agree to one or more of the terms of the divorce or order. An uncontested divorce is one where the parties agree on all terms and issues.
The court official who handles the court papers and official documents. All pleadings are filed with the court clerk.
The date by which an action must be taken, or completed, such as filing an answer, responding to discovery or providing certain notices.
An order signed by the court after a party has received official notice of a proceeding but failed to appear or answer within the time allowed.
A type of “discovery” where the attorney for one party asks oral questions to the other party who answers under oath; all questions and answers are recorded by a court reporter.
Formal requests for information from one party to another party in various formats. The most common forms are the Inventory, Request for Production, Interrogatories, Request for Disclosure, Request of Admissions and Depositions.
DRO – Domestic Relations Office
A court office in many Texas counties, including Tarrant County. The office has a number of functions, including collecting child support, monitoring child support payments, conducting social studies for custody cases, supervising visitations, supervising drug testing and access facilitation, among other things. The DRO may intervene in a divorce or post-divorce case.
A legal reason for divorce, claiming bad behavior such as adultery or cruel treatment.
A fee that is paid at the time of filing of the petition or other pleadings.
Final Decree of Divorce
The court order that concludes the divorce is a final decree of divorce. It is signed by the judge after a trial or prove-up hearing.
Financial Information Sheet
A statement of a party’s income and monthly expenses. A standard, comprehensive form is used generally.
A proceeding in which testimony is presented in front of the judge. Court dates or appearances are often referred to as “hearings” even when no formal testimony is presented.
The most common no-fault ground for divorce. It means generally the marriage is not working out.
An approach to negotiations that focuses on the parties’ needs, interests and goals rather than arbitrary positions or percentages.
Written discovery questions from one party to another.
A pleading stating that outside parties want to join a lawsuit.
Inventory and Appraisement
A comprehensive document listing the parties’ community and separate assets and liabilities along with their values.
Texas has a presumption that there will be joint custody or conservatorship where both parents are entitled to care for and obtain information about the children. Child support may still be paid. Joint custody may be equal or shared in various arrangements. Decision-making is rarely equally shared, but is shared in various ways on different issues. Joint custody does not necessarily mean equal time parenting. It may simply mean both parents have meaningful involvement. It often is just a label put on a standard custody arrangement.
A petition for divorce filed by both husband and wife together.
The legal basis for the Court to hear a case.
A process where the parties negotiate with the help of a neutral 3rd party mediator. The parties usually reach an agreement and then they put the agreement in writing and sign it. A property executed mediation agreement is binding in a court of law.
The person who files a motion.
A divorce without allegation of adultery, cruelty, or other grounds of fault. “Insupportability” is the usual no-fault ground used.
A parent who does not have primary custody of a child.
Special classes, often court-ordered, that teach parenting or co-parenting skills, especially in the context of a divorce. The classes emphasize cooperation between parents.
A comprehensive plan containing all the details relating to taking care of a child, including child support, possession schedules and parental powers, rights and duties, among other things.
The pleading filed to start a divorce action.
The person who files a petition.
A document such as a petition, answer, motion, etc. which is filed with the clerk. A pleading generally states a claim and requests some action.
An approach to negotiating in which the parties often start with arbitrary or extreme positions and negotiate to reach a middle ground.
Request for Admissions
Written questions which ask a party to admit the truth of something, a form of the discovery process.
Request for Disclosure
A discovery request that the other party disclose certain standard aspects of the case, such as factual claims, fact witnesses, expert witnesses, addresses, etc.
Request for Production
A discovery document that requests the other party to provide documents or copies of specified documents within 30 days.
The length of time which one of the parties must live in Texas before a divorce action may be filed is 6 months, along with 90 days residence in the county where the action is filed.
The person against whom a petition is filed. After a petition is filed, the respondent is usually served with a copy of the petition and a citation directing the respondent to answer the petition. This person is then required to answer the petition with a certain number of days. Alternatively, a respondent can sign and return a waiver of service.
Property that is not considered marital property because (among other factors) it was acquired by gift or inheritance or was owned by a party prior to marriage.
Having a petition, motion, subpoena, etc, personally delivered to a respondent by a constable, sheriff or an authorized private process server.
An agreement between husband and wife settling property, child support, custody and other issues. It can be included in a decree of divorce or an agreement incident to divorce.
The county in which a divorce or other law suit is filed.
Texas has a minimum 60-waiting period from the time of filing the petition before a final divorce may be granted.
Waiver of Process
In cases where the respondent does not want to be served with papers, or if the respondent agrees to the divorce, the respondent may file a waiver of service. The waiver means that the party does not need to be served with the petition. A waiver should be read carefully to determine what is covered by it and should be signed only if the party understands and agrees to it.