the phases of civil litigation in texas

The Phases of Civil Litigation in Texas

There are three basic phases of civil litigation in Texas: 

  1. Pre-trial
  2. Trial
  3. Post-trial

To protect your rights, there are specific tasks to complete in each phase. With the guidance of a civil attorney, you gain the peace of mind that you won’t miss any critical steps. 

Below, we provide a general overview of the basic concepts involved in this process. To learn more about your specific case, contact our team to schedule a consultation. 

Phase 1: Pre-Trial

There are a few essential steps in the pre-trial phase of litigation. While these tasks are time-consuming, they are crucial for success. 

  • Research
  • Filing
  • Notice & Response 


Discovery is the process of gathering relevant information from the other side of the lawsuit. Legal teams exchange their information in order to allow each side to prepare thoroughly.

Motions & Requests

Occasionally, your lawyer may need to ask the court for something before or during the trial. During litigation, you typically need to file a motion or request to ask the court for something. 

Here are some of the most common motions and requests: 

  • Motion for Continuance 
  • Temporary Orders
  • Request for Jury 
  • Motion to Amend Petition

Can You End a Case Before Trial?

In certain cases, it’s possible to end the case before it goes to trial. There are a few ways to accomplish this. Here are some possible motions your attorney may use to end a case before it goes to trial. 

  • Dismissal 
  • Nonsuit
  • Summary Judgment
  • Settlement
  • Default Judgment

Phase 2: Trial

The second phase of civil litigation in Texas is trial. If your case is uncontested, where both sides agree on the final outcome, it is quite different. In this type of case, the trial is likely quite short, commonly thought of as a hearing instead. 

At the final hearing of an uncontested lawsuit, you present your signed order to the judge, answer questions, and file the order with the Court Clerk. 

When both sides disagree, you have a contested case. This requires far more preparation prior to trial. Your attorney will coach you through the strategies that benefit your case and help you pursue the best possible outcome. 

They should also cover the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence with you. Your attorney is your advocate throughout the litigation process, bearing the weight of the case. However, it’s vital to understand the situation thoroughly. 

Representation at Trial

Throughout the trial, your attorney’s goal is to explain how the law applies to the facts of your case. They utilize the available evidence, procedures, and rules and leverage them to your benefit. 

Phase 3: Post-Trial

In the final phase of civil litigation in Texas, the judge rules on your case. However, this does not always mean the matter is over. In the post-trial phase, it’s possible to take several actions. 

  • Enforcing an Order
  • Appealing an Order 
  • Setting aside a Default Judgment 
  • Modifying an Order

Representation in Civil Litigation

Often, people find the various phases of civil litigation to be overwhelming and complex. Even in a seemingly straightforward case, the process of filing and pursuing a civil suit is not simple. That’s why it’s a good idea to partner with a civil attorney who understands the details of your case. 

When you have experienced legal representation on your side, you have an advocate who fights to pursue the best possible outcome of your case.