Divorce is not easy on the individual or the family going through it. It can be emotionally exhausting, financially draining and turn the involved parties’ lives upside down for months or years at a time.
If you’re getting a divorce in Texas, you can have peace of mind if you know what the process is going to be ahead of time. Preparing as much as you can by looking at the divorce laws, figuring out how to file papers and determining if you need to bring in an attorney to help will make your situation much easier. Let’s take a look at some of the steps required for filing for divorce in Texas.
Filing for Divorce in Texas
Before getting started with proceedings, you should know that in Texas, you are either legally married or legally divorced. There is no such thing as a legal separation.
If you and your spouse have lived in the state of Texas for at least six months prior to your divorce, then you can file your petition for divorce at your local county courthouse. You must live in that county at least 90 days before your divorce. This may be an issue if you and your spouse separated, and one of you moved to a different county. Then, you’d have to make sure you or your spouse resided in that county for about three months prior to filing.
Thankfully, in Texas, you do not need a reason for your divorce or have to prove that your spouse did anything wrong in order to file. This is called a no-fault divorce, and you can simply state that you and your spouse’s personalities are insupportable.
When you file your papers, you’ll pay about $250 to $300 to the court as a filing fee. You can file for a divorce without your spouse’s approval, but you do need to let your spouse know that you did so. This requires hiring an official process server give the notice to your spouse, and then having that server file the Return of Service with the clerk. An available option is also to have a spouse waive their right to service, which can provide benefit in some cases. From the day you file the petition, you’ll need to go through a 60-day waiting period before a court can grant you a divorce.
Going to court in Texas Divorce Cases
If your divorce is uncontested, and you and your spouse are in full agreement of the divorce terms, then you will only have to go to court one time for a “prove-up” of the divorce during the final step (discussed in more detail below). You can hire attorneys to help you reach an agreement or go in for mediation. These options will save you and your spouse a lot of time, energy and headaches compared to a contested case.
Let’s say you end up in court because your case is complex, your spouse is being unreasonable or you just can’t come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce. In Texas, you will go before a judge or a jury and either of them will decide the issues. You’ll have to hire a divorce attorney to help you navigate this process and ensure you get what you deserve in the divorce. If you choose to represent yourself, this could lead to you not being satisfied with the results.
Note that if you do go to court and hire attorneys, your costs will be much higher than if you have an uncontested divorce and don’t need outside help. You’ll have to weigh the benefits of hiring an attorney.
For example, you may be able to negotiate for a better custody agreement or get out of a spousal maintenance situation both of which could affect your life for years to come and cause you serious turmoil. You may also need assistance with the division of property. Texas is a community property state, which means that assets and debts are subject to a just and right division. Figuring out child support with an attorney is also helpful. If you have to pay child support, it’s likely going to be 20 to 40 percent of your net resources. That kind of financial pressure may be alleviated if you hire an experienced divorce attorney.
Signing the Decree – Texas Divorce Cases
The final step in the divorce process in Texas involves signing a Final Decree of Divorce. This is signed when each spouse agrees to the terms of the divorce. You will both sign the papers, and then a judge will do the same at what is called a prove-up hearing. Once you have appeared in person to prove-up the divorce and the judge signs your Decree, your divorce is final.
Getting Started with the Divorce Process in Texas
You may be wondering how long a divorce in Texas usually takes. Because of the waiting periods, it is estimated to take about 10 months to a year, or a little longer if there are children involved. The longer you draw out the process, take to file your papers or fight with your spouse, the more legal fees you’re going to incur from your attorney and the more emotional damage you and/or your family may experience.
Since it’s likely to take longer if you DIY your divorce, it’s best to find an experienced divorce attorney in Texas who is on your side and will fight for you in and outside of the courtroom. You’ll be grateful to have the help of a professional and feel comforted knowing that your divorce process, no matter how painful it is, is in good hands.
The experienced divorce attorneys at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC are available to consult with you if you are considering divorce, or already in the process. We can provide valuable insight to the complex nature of these cases. You can learn more about our divorce representation here, or contact our office now to schedule a confidential consultation.