Portrait of John K Grubb

Texas Divorce and Prenuptial Agreement

4550 Post Oak Place, Suite 201 • Houston, Texas 77027-3139

Phone: 713-877-8800 • Fax: 713-877-1229

John K. Grubb and Associates Answer Your Legal Questions and Concerns


John K. Grubb and his legal team strive to provide you with up to the minute information and updates on all aspects of Houston divorce, family law, property disputes, and domestic violence. Bookmark this blog and check back frequently for advice, checklists, news updates, and all the answers to the legal question you might have been afraid to ask.

The Divorce Process in Harris County

The divorce process in Harris County is different from virtually any other locale, due to its size. Yes, all of the mandatory steps required by Texas law are still necessary in Harris County, so they will not be discussed here. Instead, Harris County divorce attorney John K. Grubb provides an understanding of a few of the specific things that make Harris County unique in terms of the divorce process.

Taking the First Steps

All Houston divorces start out by electronically filing an Original Petition For Divorce or Respondent’s Original Answer with the District Clerk of Harris County.  However, the District Clerk has to process the electronic filings. In many Texas counties, this is done the same day that the District Clerk receives the transmission.  In Harris County, however, it may take the District Clerk a week to process the initial filing and issue citation.  Once the citation is issued in Harris County, virtually all of the citations are served by licensed private process servers instead of the Sheriff or Constable.  If a temporary hearing is requested when the divorce is filed it may take the District Clerk up to two weeks to get with the actual courtroom clerk, obtain a hearing date, notify the attorney and get the papers issued.

Harris County has nine Family Law District Courts.  When a divorce in Harris County is filed, it is randomly assigned to one of these nine Courts. If the parties have previously been involved in a divorce proceeding in Harris County or involved in a suit affecting parent child relationship in Harris County then the new case is randomly filed in one of the nine Family Law District Courts. Then the Clerk automatically transfers it to the previous Court in Harris County.

Case Decisions and Hearings in Harris County

Each Family Law District Court in Harris County has an elected Judge who in turn appoints an Associate Judge.  So in fact, there are really eighteen Judges to hear all of the family law cases in Harris County.  The elected Judge can decide which cases to assign to the Associate Judge and which cases to retain.  As a practical matter, they usually make the assignments at the 9:00 or 10:00 o’clock docket call each day and simply use their own judgment as to how many cases it is possible to hear for the day.

Because of the caseload, most Harris County Family Law District Judges require that the case be mediated prior to them actually hearing a temporary orders hearing.

Once temporary orders are entered or agreed to by the parties, or if no temporary orders are requested, then the case moves into the working phase in Harris County.  Within thirty days after the Petitioner files the Original Petition For Divorce or with thirty days after the Respondent answers or enters an appearance the parties must make certain minimum disclosures, including the following:

  • All documents pertaining to real estate;
  • All documents pertaining to any pension, retirement, profit-sharing, or other employee benefit plan, together with the most recent account statement for any plan;
  • All documents pertaining to any life, casualty, liability, and health insurance;
  • The most recent account statement pertaining to any account located with any financial institution including, but not limited to, banks, savings & loans, credit unions, and brokerage firms.
  • A preliminary  inventory of the parties’ assets and liabilities;
  • Income information for figuring child support.

Many other documents may have to be produced in your Houston divorce, based upon the particular facts of the case.

In Harris County, it typically takes six months to a year before a divorce is finalized.  Keep in mind that the only way a divorce is finalized is when a Judge signs a Final Decree of Divorce.  There are basically three ways to get a Judge to sign a Final Decree of Divorce: when the parties agree on each and every issue and sign an Agreed Final Decree of Divorce, when you and your spouse go to a final mediations, sign a binding mediated settlement agreement and subsequently sign an Agreed Final Decree of Divorce, or the Court enters a Final Decree of Divorce based on a binding mediated settlement agreement  — your Texas divorce case is tried in open Court, the Judge announces the Court’s decision and then signs a Final Decree of Divorce reflecting the Judge’s decision.

Unfortunately, because of the sheer size of Harris County, delays are common.  There are over one hundred Courts in Harris County; they all set matters for 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM, or 1:30 PM.  They set matters without regard to the attorney’s schedule.  It is not uncommon for an attorney to find that he or she has hearings scheduled in three or four Courts at the same time – the attorney cannot control this and must work from Court to Court as quickly as possible.  Also, the Judges in Harris County are overloaded.  Many times a Judge will think this is going to be an easy day only to come out to call the 9:00 o’clock docket and discover that the very first case is going to take one, two, or even three days; needless to say everything else on the Court’s schedule has to be postponed and reset.

Here is your Houston divorce lawyer’s advice about divorce in Harris County.  Get you case prepared early – do not waste time thinking that your soon to be ex-spouse is going to agree to anything – and be patient.  Unfortunately, until your divorce is finalized you will have to live in a state of suspended life.

For any questions about the divorce process, or any other aspect of family law, call 713-877-8800. Houston family lawyer John K. Grubb and his team can assist with any legal concerns.

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