DIVORCE IN Texas - YOUR COMPLETE STARTER GUIDE
Last updated: June 04, 2019
If you are getting a divorce in Texas, the more information you have by your side, the easier the process will be and the more successful the outcome. Since divorce laws vary from state to state, here is what you need to know if you are divorcing in Texas.
Texas Divorce Process:
To divorce in Texas, one spouse must have resided in Texas continuously for six months. Also, one spouse must have been a resident of the county in which they are divorcing for a minimum of 90 days prior to the filing.
How to file for divorce
The divorce process starts when one spouse, called the Petitioner, files an Original Petition for Divorce with the court. The document must next be served personally to the other spouse, called the Respondent. A Respondent may waive this requirement.
At the same time the Petitioner files for divorce, he/she has the option to request that the court issue a standard Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”). The TRO forbids spouses from depleting assets before being divided by the court. It also directs both spouses to treat each other civilly and not to threaten or harass one another. If the court issues a TRO, spouses must attend a hearing within 14 days. At the hearing, the court has the option to turn the TRO into a temporary injunction should the circumstances call for it.
Where there is no TRO, the Respondent must file his/her answer within 20 days plus the next following Monday. During this time, the court will also consider any requested temporary orders. Temporary orders stay in effect until the parties reach a final agreement and typically center around issues involving visitation, custody, child support, use of property, debts, spousal support, and attorney’s fees.
The following step is discovery. Discovery is the time when spouses exchange all of the documents and information the other spouse may not already have access to, such as financial documents, retirement plans, and billing statements.
When discovery is complete, spouses can discuss settling their case. Attorneys and mediators can facilitate settlement. If the spouses agree at this time, they or their attorneys will draft an Agreed Decree of Divorce containing all of their terms. Both spouses and the judge must sign the Decree.
A trial date will be set by the court if both spouses cannot agree. Mediation is required before spouses go to trial, the process by which a couple tries informally to resolve their issues with the help of a trained and neutral third party called a mediator.
Should mediation fail, the couple will go to trial. When the trial concludes, a Final Decree of Divorce will be prepared which contains all of the court’s rulings. Once the Decree is signed, the divorce is final and binding.
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How Long Does a Divorce Take in Texas?
In Texas, a divorce is not final for 60 days after the filing of the petition. This 60-day waiting period is mandatory. A general rule of thumb is that it will take six months to a year to finalize a divorce in Texas.
How Much Divorce in Texas Costs?
Typically, a divorce in Texas will cost between $15,000 and $30,000, depending on how complicated the issues in the divorce are. Legal fees represent most of the expense in a divorce. However, there are ways to keep divorce costs to a minimum, including accessing Texas’ numerous legal resources (see below).
Special Divorce Laws in Texas
Texas does not recognize legal separation. Regardless of whether you are living with your spouse or apart from them, all of the assets you acquire during that time are considered community property. Likewise, all of the debt you incur is community debt. Whether one or both spouses names appear on a title or a liability is irrelevant. To put it plainly, you are married to your spouse until your divorce is final, so it is essential to consider that when making any financial decisions prior to that time.
Texas is a no-fault divorce state. In other words, the filing spouse is not required to prove that the other spouse is guilty of any wrongdoing. When determining what constitutes a fair division of assets, a judge, however, may consider who is at fault.
Common Law Divorce
Texas is one of the few states that recognize common law marriages. A common law marriage is a marriage that takes place in the absence of a ceremony or license. The process to dissolve a common law marriage in Texas is the same as for a legal marriage.
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Texas Divorce Stats
Between 40 and 50 percent of people in the United States divorce. January and August traditionally see the highest number of divorce filings. Approximately 75,000 people divorce in Texas each year.
Divorce Lawyers in TexasAlthough you can choose to represent yourself in your divorce, divorce professionals recommend that you secure legal counsel before getting divorced in Texas. Divorce in Texas is a complicated process, and you want to have the best legal counsel possible to advocate for your best interests. Without a skilled lawyer, you are apt to make mistakes or miss pertinent details, potentially resulting in your divorce taking longer to complete and costing you more in legal fees and unaddressed issues.
Checklist of Divorce-Related Resources (lawyers, coaches, mediators, appraisers)
Sometimes it takes a village to navigate the divorce process. Thankfully, there exist trained professionals who can guide you through it safely and efficiently. If you are looking to build your dream divorce team or add to it, we have compiled a list of our favorite experts from which you can pick and choose according to your needs. Your divorce team may include any combination of the following individuals or websites:
|Divorce Professionals||National Association of Divorce Professionals (NADP)
|Divorce Coach||Certified Divorced Coaches (CDC)||CertifiedDivorceCoach.com|
|Financial Planners||Association of Divorce Financial Planners (ADFP)||DivorceAndFinance.org|
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Legal Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice on any subject matter. Consult with an attorney for more information regarding your individual situation.