Divorce and Custody

Contested Divorce

Contested divorce cases can involve four stages: (1) preliminary case workup; (2) discovery; (3) settlement talks; and (4) trial. Not every contested divorce case will reach each stage of the divorce process. In fact, about 95% of cases in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are settled before trial.

Some divorce cases are not contested at all, and the involvement of your divorce lawyer is small.  (See the bottom for more information on uncontested divorces.) However, if you and your spouse have some disputed issues, you can expect your divorce case in Arlington or Mesquite area to follow a rather traditional path through the Tarrant or Dallas county court system.


During the first stage of a contested divorce, the preliminary case workup, we obtain a lot of information from our family law clients. Clients must provide us with all of the information and documentation necessary for us to effectively represent them, including income information, bank statements, credit card statements, property documents and titles. 

Once we have sufficient information for the divorce, we draft the first Petition for Divorce, and then determine the best way to serve their spouse with the beginning papers. Once served, we file the documents with the divorce court and secure a place on the divorce docket. Our preliminary case workup stage rarely takes more than 2 weeks.

During the second stage of a contested divorce in Arlington or Mesquite, the “discovery stage,” we obtain information from your spouse, and their divorce lawyer, if they have one. Discovery allows us to gather information your spouse, or their divorce lawyer, may have in their possession and determine the position their divorce attorney will take on the issues in the case. In the mean time, we may meet with the judge to have a decision on temporary custody, child support, possession of the homestead and spousal maintenance. Various experts may be involved in your case to assist with the valuation of property or business interests, or to perform a social study on the child(ren)'s potential homes.

Once we have the discovery phase completed, we position your divorce case for settlement. We might try mediating or sitting down with the other side to discuss possible settlement options regarding your divorce.  We understand the last thing our divorce clients want is a drawn out legal battle with their spouse and their spouse’s divorce attorney. This is why we strive to settle your divorce matter quickly, with the best results possible.

If we are unable to effectively resolve your divorce case, we prepare for trial. The length of the trial depends on the number of issues involved in your divorce case. Some cases are tried in a day, others take several days. Most often, the cases we take to trial involve custody battles.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on the big issues, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced divorce lawyer. We can explain your rights and put together a plan of action for you and your family's well-being.

Please call (817) 860-5685 or (972) 686-5566 to arrange a free consultation and retainer quote.

Uncontested Divorce

Not every divorce is a long, expensive process. In many cases, the parties have reached agreement on most or all of the divorce issues. Our divorce lawyers in Arlington and Mesquite can help finish your uncontested divorce quickly, efficiently and inexpensively.  The minimum waiting period for a divorce in Texas is 60 days, after the initial filing.  

Usually only one of the spouses hires a divorce lawyer to prepare the necessary paperwork. If, for example, you hire our divorce law firm to handle an uncontested divorce, we will prepare and file the divorce petition and divorce decree. Your spouse only needs to read and sign the agreement. They may call to ask us general questions throughout the process, but they must always bear in mind that we work for you as your divorce lawyer.

The fees associated with an uncontested divorce depend upon the issues in the case. For cases in which the parties do not have children, we charge a flat rate of $800 attorneys fees + court and service costs, if necessary (around $400 for both, $300 if no service required). For cases in which the parties have children, we charge a flat rate of $1,000 attorneys fees + court and service costs, if necessary(around $400 for both, $300 if no service required). Additional drafting is required with cases involving children.  The rate includes all meetings, phone calls, e-mails, correspondence, drafting, and court appearances. Our divorce clients appreciate the predictability of a package rate.

We can discuss whether your case appears to be uncontested and begin the process of bringing closure promptly and inexpensively.

To speak to an attorney about your matter, please call us now at 817-860-5685 or 972-686-5566, and schedule a no fee consultation.

Custody

?Most parents are fearful of the effect their divorce will have on their children. Their desire is to keep the children in as stable a situation as possible. In some cases, parents have already agreed upon which spouse will be the custodial parent. The custodial parent will take care of housing, and making most of the legal decisions regarding the children. Oftentimes, however, custody cannot be agreed upon and the courts must now get involved. Seeking legal counsel as early as possible can help you get your bearings in this type of highly contentious situation and better help you make more objective decisions.

In Texas, custody is a general term used for what is legally known as conservatorship. There are three basic types of conservatorship.

Sole Managing Conservatorship  This gives one parent over the other sole responsibility for matters such as religious upbringing, health, and education issues. Sole Managing Conservatorship goes hand in hand with Sole Possessory Conservatorship.

Sole Possessory Conservatorship  This is the counterpart to Sole
Managing Conservatorship. The parent awarded visitation rights is given what is known as possessory conservatorship, meaning the parent can make decisions for the child only while the child is in their possession. Otherwise the possessory conservator has little say over the child’s affairs.

Joint Managing Conservatorship  This is by far the most common conservatorship awarded, since its inception. It is an attempt to make a fairer means of parental responsibility sharing. Although the name “joint managing conservatorship” implies equal responsibilities, the courts in fact spell out specifically the responsibilities of each parent in the conservatorship. One parent is given the right to establish residence for the child known as primary possession.

There are many specific points to each type of conservatorship that need to be considered when making the decision of custody for your children. It is important to discuss the types of custody in detail with a caring and skilled child custody attorney. My law practice is dedicated to helping clients find their way out of a seemingly dark pit. I strive to help my clients see their ending relationship, not as a disaster, but rather a new chapter beginning in their lives. If you are ready to make a fresh start, give me a call right away at (817) 860-5685 or (972) 686-5566.

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* The content that is provided on this website is to be used for general information purposes only. It is not meant to be legal advice, and does not establish an attorney client relationship. It is recommended that you consult with an attorney on any legal matters.

 

Divorce / Family Law

We believe that families are at the center of our society. However, we do understand that occasionally families struggle. When you feel you need an advocate or just advice about your family situation, divorce, custody, support, or for whatever reason, we are here to help with compassion and experience in dealing with these tough family issues.

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A will can help to releive the burden on our loved ones and assist in making your wishes known when you are no longer able to voice those desires.

During a time of grief you need someone to be your advocate through the probate process. We understand how trying these times can be and wish to help you as much as possible.

Consumer Bankruptcy

In today’s economy it gets hard to make ends meet. Then, when something unexpected occurs it becomes easy to fall so far behind that anadvocate is needed to intercede for us. Bankruptcy may become our best option to protect ourselves and our families. With over 25 years of experience we at Dwain Downing, understand these issues and the laws that surround them, and with understanding and experience we can help you to deal with your financial problems .

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Sometimes we come face to face with the harsh realities of the legal system. This is when we need someone to be our advocate, to help us present our side of the issue, an attorney that is competent and experienced.

Dwain Downing has over 25 years experience as an advocate both in and out of court. We have handled cases ranging from petty theft to homicide. Let us help you through this stressful time.