Civil litigation in Texas has three basic phases:
- Trial, and
This article provides a broad overview of basic concepts and includes links to additional articles that teach you more. Get help with civil litigation. If you feel overwhelmed by the civil litigation process, see TexasLawHelp's Ask a Question page, and we will do our best to help you find the right kind of assistance for your situation. You can also try the Legal Help Directory tool or contact a lawyer referral service.
Three Phases of Civil Litigation
Civil litigation can be broken into three main phases: pre-trial, trial, and post-trial. Each of these phases has certain tasks that must be completed in order to protect the rights of everyone involved in the lawsuit.
The three phrases of civil litigation, illustrated
Essential steps in the pre-trial phase of litigation include research, filing, and notice and response. Read Civil Litigation in Texas: The Pretrial Phase for an explanation of what must happen before trial.
Discovery is how you get information that is relevant to your case that the other side has. Read Discovery in Texas: Investigate and Prepare for Trial.
Motions and Requests
Sometimes, parties need to ask the court for things before or during the trial. To ask the court for something during litigation, you will usually need to file either a motion or request. Some of the most common motions and requests are:
- Request for Jury
- Motion for Continuance
- Motion to Amend Petition
- Temporary Orders
Read Motions and Requests.
Ending a Case Before Trial
A trial is a process where a judge or jury listens to and makes a decision about a case. Both sides will try to convince the judge or jury to agree with them by presenting their side of the story and any evidence. The purpose of a trial is to find a solution or get a decision, like awarding money in a civil case. Trials can be complicated and have special rules, so it is usually a good idea to have a lawyer help you. Read Civil Trial Preparation to learn about getting ready for a trial.
The judge may have ruled in the case, but the matter might not be over. There are actions that can be filed in Texas civil court after a trial—such as setting aside a default judgment, modifying an order, enforcing an order, or appealing an order. But deadlines are crucial. Read Civil Litigation in Texas: After the Trial.
Court How-Tos (Civil Procedure)
This article explains the work that happens before a trial in a Texas civil case.
Motions and requests are how you formally ask a judge to take an action during a case.
This article offers information about the rules governing discovery in Texas.
This article explains how lawsuits can be resolved without a trial.
If your case is contested, then you will need to spend a lot of time preparing for trial.
This article tells you what evidence is and provides information on the evidence rules that are followed in Texas courts.
This article provides an overview of the process of conducting legal research.
This article describes the appeals guide for self-represented people in Texas.
This article explains what to consider when hiring a lawyer.
This article explains "limited scope representation," which is one way to make hiring a private attorney more affordable.
This article explains how to ask the judge to set aside (cancel) a default judgment.
This article contains a link to a video that provides some background on the civil litigation system in Texas.