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A step-by-step guide to divorce in Texas

On Behalf of | Jan 29, 2024 | Family Law

Even though most couples who walk down the aisle do so intending to stay together forever, between 40% and 50% of Americans who marry end up divorcing their spouse.

Divorce is a challenging process in almost every way imaginable—emotionally, financially, and mentally. It can push anyone to the limit of what they can handle.

For this reason, having knowledgeable and compassionate counsel during the process can make the difference between a horrible experience and a tolerable (and sometimes even pleasant) one.

Texas, like every other state, has its own requirements for divorce, as well as aspects that are unique to the state. For example:

  • The state requires that either party who files for divorce in Texas be a resident of the state for at least six months and live in the county where they are filing for at least 90 days.
  • Texas is a no-fault divorce state, so a spouse does not have to do something wrong in order for the other to file for divorce. Either spouse can file for divorce for any reason.
  • Courts require filing parties to wait 60 days after filing before the divorce can become final. This time ensures that the couple or the spouse filing for divorce has time to cool off and make sure this is what they really want.
  • Since Texas adheres to the “community property” doctrine, almost all assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage—also known as marital property—belong to both spouses and are subject to a fair division.
  • Considering community property laws, when the court evaluates how to divide property, it does so according to principles of fairness rather than dividing the assets equally.
  • All family courts in Texas prioritize the best interests of the children, if there are children between the spouses. In custody matters, judges will encourage parents to work through things themselves and agree.
  • The parent who lives with the child most of the time is called the “custodial parent,” and the parent who does not live with the child most of the time is called the “non-custodial parent.
  • The non-custodial parent may be required to pay child support because the custodial parent spends more time with the child. The court considers the parents’ incomes, living situation, and the needs of the child to calculate the amount of support.
  • Alimony or spousal support is not a guarantee in Texas divorces. In fact, courts look at several factors when deciding whether to award spousal support, such as the length of the marriage, the husband and wife’s earning ability, and the family’s resources.
  • Couples who wish to do so can use mediation to settle their divorce. Mediation is a less adversarial process where the parties, guided by a neutral third party, can talk and negotiate all matters pertaining to the divorce and settle each one.
  • Texas divorces are only final when the judge signs the final divorce decree, which often contains everything the parties have agreed to or what the judge has ordered, including child custody, property division, child support and alimony.

Remember, divorce is a highly complex process in every state, and each state has its own way of doing things. It is important to understand the laws and procedures of Texas courts so you can have the smoothest divorce possible.

Understanding the basics of a Texas divorce is critical. Anyone considering divorce should seek the counsel of an attorney who can explain every step and all the nuances that go with the process of getting a divorce in Texas.