Divorce laws vary from state to state, and Texas has its own unique set of rules and regulations. Familiarizing yourself with the specific requirements, timelines, and procedures involved in a Texas divorce can help you make informed decisions and ensure a smoother transition into the next phase of your life.
One of the primary reasons for understanding the divorce process in Texas is to protect your rights and interests. By being well-informed, you can ensure that you are aware of the legal implications of each step, including property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. Knowledge of the process allows you to advocate for yourself and make informed decisions that align with your best interests and those of your children.
While it is always advisable to consult with a qualified attorney for personalized legal advice, this guide will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the divorce process in Texas. By arming yourself with knowledge, you can approach your divorce with confidence and navigate the legal landscape effectively. So let’s dive in and explore the intricacies of divorcing in the Lone Star State.
In the state of Texas, a separation period is not a requirement for filing for divorce. Unlike some other states, Texas does not have a legal separation status. Instead, Texas recognizes a “no-fault” divorce, which means that a divorce can be granted without either party proving fault or wrongdoing.
Separation begins when you live separately and apart and at least one party has the intent of not continuing the marital relationship. You cannot be separated in the same house. It is not necessary for there to be anything in writing to be separated.
When you separate you may settle all marital issues either by agreement or by court action. Marital issues include issues regarding child custody and support, spousal support (alimony), and property distribution (equitable distribution). However, there is no requirement that you do so. If neither you nor your spouse has filed an action prior to the divorce action and no agreement has been reached, it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney before proceeding further.
Do your own Divorce in Texas
Divorce itself is an easy process. Many courts, including the Harris County District Court, have a divorce packet available to provide you with sample documents and information needed for you to file your own divorce. However, before you do so, it would be best to research your rights to make sure that the self-help doesn’t end up being the costliest help you ever have. If you have not settled issues regarding property distribution or spousal support before your divorce is final, you waive (give up) your right to do so.
Assuming you have researched your rights and have decided that you want to proceed with a divorce and no other issues, the process is simple.
- Prepare 3 copies of a divorce complaint and summons, sign and verify the complaint and have your signature notarized.
- Take the documents and the filing fee ($225 in 2020) to your county courthouse and file the papers with the Clerk of Court. They will keep one copy of the summons and complaint and give 2 back to you.
- Keep one copy for your file and serve the other set of papers on your spouse either by the sheriff ($30 in 2020), certified mail (getting back the “green card”), or other manner designated by statute.
- File proof of service with the court.
- Thirty days after the other party is served, file a notice of hearing ($20 in 2020) for the divorce. Be sure to send the notice to the other party. In Harris County, all divorces are done on Fridays.
- Take 3 copies of the judgment with you to court on the day of the hearing. It is also a good idea to bring copies of all the documents you have filed in case you need to refer to them.
- Testify that the facts in your complaint are true and that you want a divorce. The judge will sign your divorce judgment. The clerk will give you a certified copy which you should keep and a copy you need to mail to the other spouse. You will need to have proof of service attached to the divorce judgment you mail to the opposing party.
You cannot obtain a divorce quicker than 12 months after separation, you cannot get a “quickie” divorce in a foreign country, and you cannot divorce in another state unless you or your spouse actually moves there. On the other hand, you cannot prevent the other party from obtaining a divorce if the statutory factors have been met.
If you have read through these instructions and have looked at the actual documents you need to file, you may wish to hire an attorney to do the divorce for you. If you hire an attorney, neither you nor your spouse will have to appear in court as your attorney can handle the actual divorce by a process known as summary judgment.
Legal requirements for filing for Divorce in Texas
Before embarking on the journey of a DIY divorce in Texas, it is crucial to understand the legal requirements involved. Familiarizing yourself with these requirements will help ensure a smooth and successful divorce process.
In Texas, there are certain prerequisites that must be met before filing for divorce. Firstly, either you or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months prior to filing. Additionally, you or your spouse must have lived in the county where you plan to file for at least 90 days.
When it comes to grounds for divorce, Texas recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds. No-fault grounds are most commonly cited, as they do not require proving any wrongdoing by either party. The most common no-fault ground is “insupportability,” which refers to a breakdown of the marriage due to discord or conflict that cannot be reconciled.
However, if fault-based grounds are applicable to your situation, they can include adultery, cruelty, abandonment, conviction of a felony, or living apart for at least three years. It is important to note that fault-based grounds may impact property division and spousal support determinations.
Once the legal requirements for filing a divorce in Texas are understood, the next step is completing the necessary paperwork. This typically involves drafting a petition for divorce, which outlines the details of your marriage, assets, debts, and any children involved. It is essential to ensure accuracy and completeness when preparing these documents to avoid any potential complications later in the process.
Working with professionals during the divorce process
During the divorce process, it is crucial to work with professionals who can provide support, guidance, and expertise to ensure a smooth and fair resolution. While opting for a DIY divorce may seem appealing, it is important to recognize the value that professionals bring to this complex and emotionally challenging journey.
Hiring a knowledgeable and experienced divorce attorney can be instrumental in protecting your rights and advocating for your best interests. An attorney can help you understand the legal implications of your decisions, navigate the intricacies of Texas divorce laws, and ensure that all necessary paperwork is properly filed and submitted.
Financial advisor or planner
Divorce often entails significant financial changes and considerations, such as dividing assets, determining alimony or child support, and planning for post-divorce financial stability. A financial professional can provide valuable insights and guidance on how to make informed decisions that align with your long-term financial goals.
Mediator or a collaborative divorce professional
These professionals specialize in facilitating productive communication and negotiation between divorcing parties, with the goal of reaching mutually satisfactory agreements. Mediation or collaborative divorce can be a cost-effective and less adversarial alternative to traditional litigation, fostering a more amicable and cooperative atmosphere.
Therapist or counselor
Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of emotional support during the divorce process. Working with a therapist or counselor can provide a safe space to process your emotions, develop coping strategies, and maintain your mental well-being throughout this challenging period. Divorce can be emotionally draining, and having a professional to lean on can make a significant difference in navigating the emotional rollercoaster.
Consulting financial experts
When going through a divorce, it’s crucial to consider the financial aspects of the process. Consulting financial experts can provide you with the guidance and expertise needed to navigate this challenging terrain.
Divorce can have significant financial implications, from dividing assets and debts to determining spousal support and child support. A financial expert, such as a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA), can help you understand your financial situation and make informed decisions.
One of the key benefits of consulting a financial expert is their ability to analyze your financial documents and help you create a comprehensive financial plan. They can assist in evaluating your assets, including properties, investments, retirement accounts, and business interests. By assessing the value of these assets, they can provide valuable insights on how to equitably divide them.
Additionally, financial experts can assist in determining the long-term financial impact of decisions made during the divorce process. They can create projections and scenarios to help you understand the potential outcomes of various settlement options. This can be particularly crucial when it comes to decisions regarding spousal support, child support, and property division.
A financial expert can also guide you through the complex realm of tax implications that arise during divorce. They can provide advice on tax optimization strategies and help you understand the tax consequences of different settlement choices.
Special Note to members of the military
Military personnel stationed abroad who wish to have a divorce in the US are not considered to be in the same category as international divorces. We can help you find out about the law in Texas if you call us for further information. In most circumstances, an active duty member of the armed services cannot be served with or have a divorce entered against him or her absent some additional paperwork which the service member will have to draft and sign acknowledging consent to the entry of the divorce. If you have been served with a divorce and want to have it entered even though you are on active duty, speak to your JAG officer.
Navigating divorce in Texas may seem overwhelming, but with determination, support from loved ones, and the information provided in this guide, you can successfully navigate the complexities and challenges that lie ahead. Remember, this is your divorce journey, and by taking control, you have the power to create a brighter future for yourself.
We hope you found our comprehensive guide to navigating divorce in Texas helpful. Going through a divorce can be an overwhelming and challenging experience, but with the right resources and knowledge, you can successfully handle the process on your own. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can confidently navigate the legal aspects of divorce, understand your rights, and make informed decisions. Remember, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional if you have any specific concerns or questions. Best of luck on your journey toward a new chapter in your life.