Separation. Texas does not recognize the legal concept of separation. You are "married" until a court enters a final decree. Nevertheless, you can enter into a "separation agreement" or "partition and exchange agreement." Your actions at the separation stage can "point" the case to the final outcome.
Original Petition for Divorce. The divorce process starts by filing a document entitled "Original Petition for Divorce." That document informs the court that a divorce is sought, of any grounds the party may have, and what the party wants the court to award in regard to property and children. Concurrently with the filing of the Original Petition, a party may ask for temporary orders, temporary restraining orders, and/or a protective order.
Temporary Orders. Temporary orders are orders issued by the court to place immediate controls upon the relationship of the parties, the parties' financial affairs, child custody, and financial support while the divorce is pending.
Mediation. Mediation is a process where both parties meet in a neutral setting to discuss their differences and attempt to resolve the case.
Discovery. "Discovery" is a broad general term for a number of legal devices designed to gather information. Discovery is sometimes an informal process of exchanging documents or information between the parties' attorneys.
Trial. If the case cannot be settled, then it will be set for trial. Often, in addition to the pre-temporary orders and mediation, a second mediation will be ordered prior to a final trial. Trial is often expensive, stressful, and risky. A trial can be before the court or before a jury upon request.
Post-Trial / Final Decree. Whether there is a settlement agreement or a trial, at the conclusion of the case a Final Decree of Divorce is drafted. This document spells out who gets what property, where the primary residence of the children will be, how much child support will be paid, and how various child-rearing decisions will be made in the future. The court's orders in the Final Decree of Divorce can in some circumstances be modified in the future.
Appeal. If there has been a procedural error in the trial, or if the ruling of the court was not equitable or not in the best interests of the children, you may file a motion for a new trial, or begin an appeal within a very limited period of time.