October 2019

In Texas divorces, is there is almost always a party seeking completion of the case immediately, while the opposite party needs or wants a slower process. That is to say, there’s nearly always a “pusher” and a “dragger” of the divorce process.

Of course, there are exceptions. Sometimes both parties have the same interest in bringing the marriage to an end. The cases fitting this exception are generally settled amicably. This article, however, is written to address the frustrations of persons wanting to either proceed faster or slower through the divorce process.

The term “dragger” is, perhaps, more pejorative than is necessary. Parties hoping for a slower process typically want to understand what is at stake in divorce, what the short-term and long-term implications are, and what the new future holds for them. This concern can be rather acute if conservatorship of minor children is involved. A person who is relatively unfamiliar with legal proceedings can sometimes have more questions than a client with past experience in litigation. Also, a spouse who does not want the divorce may have a difficult time emotionally coming to terms with the end of the marriage. The job of the divorce attorney in these circumstances is to give the client as much clarity about the process, the obstacles, the timing, and the factors they should consider, as well as the factors a court will consider if the divorce needs litigation. This is where the experience of the attorney counts the most.

Great care should be taken by the attorney to ensure that the client seeking a slower process understands the issues relevant to the client’s interest at every step of the case. The need for information and understanding must also be balanced against the cost of the process and the likely arguments by the opposition designed to move the case along.

When an attorney represents the “pusher”; i.e., the one looking to be divorced quickly, the attorney should set benchmarks in the case that the client can understand and pressure the opposite side to also agree to reasonable benchmarks. It should be noted that the law does not permit a court to render a divorce sooner than 60 days from the date the case is filed. Except for the simplest of cases (e.g., no assets, no debts, no children, etc.), most divorces take longer than 60 days merely to gather the appropriate information and include it in a final decree of divorce. Cases that are high conflict or that have intricate issues typically take much longer. Generally speaking, most divorces can be concluded within six to eight months, depending on the location of the parties and the issues to be addressed. Some take longer than a year, although this is rare.

Both spouses to a divorce should understand that the cost and complexities of the process always expand within whatever range they are permitted. That is to say, if the parties allow for a longer process, issues will undoubtedly come up that cause greater expenditure of resources within the time to completion. It therefore stands to reason that the parties can each be spared additional expense and anguish if they can agree to a shorter process. Even though this is true, it is often necessary to go at the pace of the slower party just to ensure a sense of fairness and understanding. Long-term bitterness over the process can be avoided entirely if each spouse believes the process has been fair.

No two parties to a divorce have the exact same personalities or interests. The job of the attorney should be to properly assess the client’s priorities and advocate with those priorities in mind. There is no substitute for experience when it comes to helping a client implement a plan to navigate the divorce process. The Law Office of David A. Kazen has greater than two decades of experience successfully assisting clients through the divorce process. For a careful analysis of issues bearing upon the timing and length of a divorce, schedule a private consultation with the Law Office of David A. Kazen.