If your divorce is contested, and you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on terms, your case will go to court and be heard by a judge or jury. After the hearing, the court will decide the issues,and the divorce will be final. Here are some of the things that are decided in this final hearing.
What Issues are Decided at a Divorce Trial?
The court will hear arguments for issues that you cannot come to an agreement about with your spouse. Your divorce attorney will have a chance to present witnesses and evidence to persuade the judge or jury to see your side. Your spouse will be allowed to do the same. The following matters are decided during the hearing:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Division of Property
- Spousal Support
You and your spouse will each have a chance to testify on these issues, and the court will have a chance to understand your case and decide.
Custody in Texas is referred to as a “conservatorship.”A conservator will have the responsibility of raising the child, and the parental rights to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. Two types of conservatorships exist, and the court will decide which is appropriate for your case.
Sole Managing Conservatorship (SMC)
In this decision, one parent is appointed the sole managing conservator. This is usually reserved for cases where one parent is deemed an unsuitable conservator due to their criminal record, history of abuse, or drug and alcohol issues.
Joint Managing Conservatorship (JMC)
Here, the parents share in the rights and responsibilities of raising the child. In most Texas divorce cases, this type of conservatorship is selected. It’s generally thought to be the best solution to serve the interests of the child.
In Texas, visitation is called “possession and access.” If the child does not reside with you, you will be granted visitation rights. This is normally decided through the standard possession order, which sets out the schedule from January to December. It will specify which weekends, which holidays, and how much time in the summer you will be entitled to spend with the child.
If there are reasons that the standard possession order will not work, then a modified possession order is drawn up. For example, if the parent lives out of state or works every weekend, then the possession order will be modified.
Child support will be decided according to guidelines set by the state. The amount is typically 20% of the parent’s net monthly income, with a 5% increase for each additional child. It is standard for child support to be withheld from the parent’s paycheck and processed through the state’s central processing unit. This makes it easier for parents to receive their child support payments on time and without argument.
Division of Property
The court will start with the assumption that a 50/50 split of all property in the marriage would be fair and equitable. Then, they will begin to factor in other considerations. A judge will have to consider not only assetsbut debt tied to those assets. They must assign a share of each.
Alimony or spousal support is decided during the divorce trial. However, it is rare, unless the person petitioning for spousal support is physically or mentally disabled. The other situation is if the parent is caring for a child who is mentally or physically disabled.
So, these are the things that will be decided at the divorce trial. It will be a smoother process for you if you enlist the help of a good divorce lawyer. They will take care of all the details and give you advice throughout the entire divorce.