Divorce

To file for a divorce in Texas, one of the spouses has to have been a resident of the state for a continuous six-month period. In addition, one of the spouses must have been a resident of the county where the divorce is filed for at least 90 days.

 

In a typical Texas divorce some, if not all, of the following steps occur:

  • One spouse (the Petitioner), files an Original Petition for Divorce with the court, and has the papers personally served on the other spouse (the Respondent). If the spouses are working together, the Respondent can sign a waiver, giving up the right to be personally served with the papers.
  • At the time of filing, the Petitioner can request that the court issue a standard Temporary Restraining Order.  If a Temporary Restraining Order was issued, the court is supposed to schedule a hearing within 14 days of issuance. At that time, the court may make the Temporary Restraining Order into a temporary injunction against both parties.
  • After sevice, the Respondent has 20 days plus the next following Monday to file a document called an Answer. Commonly, the court will also consider temporary orders, which will be in effect while the divorce is pending. Temporary orders usually involve temporary custody, visitation, and support of the children, and temporary use of property and servicing of debt. It can include temporary spousal support and the payment of interim attorney’s fees and other issues as well.
  • If the spouses think they haven’t gotten all the information they need from each other, they can engage in discovery, which is the process by which they exchange information and documents. 
  • The spouses discuss settlement of the case, either directly and informally or with the help of attorneys or mediators. If they can work out an agreement on everything, one of the spouses or attorneys will prepare an Agreed Decree of Divorce, which will contain all of the terms of the agreement. The spouses and their attorneys sign it and have to present it to the court for approval and the judge’s signature.
  • If the spouses are not able to agree on all of the issues in the case, a trial date will likely be set.
  • Before trial, spouses are required to attempt mediation. Mediation is an informal process allowing the divorcing couple to work with a neutral third party (the mediator) to negotiate and settle all terms of their conflict. 
  • If mediation fails, the case goes to trial. At the conclusion of the trial, one of the attorneys will prepare a Final Decree of Divorce to present to the judge for signature. This will contain all of the court’s rulings and will resolve all issues pertaining to the divorce, and is binding on the parties going forward.

 

After the divorce is filed, how long does it take to finalize?

In Texas, there is a minimum statutory waiting period of 60 days after the petition is filed before a divorce can be finalized. The divorce is final as soon as the judge pronounces it so in open court and signs the decree of divorce. If the spouses are not in agreement, it typically takes about six months to one year or longer to finalize a divorce, depending on the complexity of the issues and the degree of conflict.

 

What are the grounds for a divorce?

Texas law allows for “no-fault” divorces. However, if one spouse is at fault for the breakup of the marriage, the court may take that into consideration in determining what is an equitable division of the couple’s property. You may want to include fault grounds in your petition for divorce if your estate is large enough. 

How is property divided in Texas?

The court starts with a presumption that all the property earned or acquired by either spouse during the marriage is community property, owned equally by the spouses. If you have separate property you have to prove it by tracing it with “clear and convincing evidence.” Separate property includes property acquired prior to marriage or by just one spouse by gift or inheritance. The court divides community property between the spouses in a “just and right manner.” In most cases, that means a 50-50 split. In some cases, however, factors such as unequal earning power and fault in the marital relationship can affect the division of property.

 

Will the court order permanent alimony?

In accordance with Texas Spousal Support laws, the requesting spouse must meet one of four requirements:

  • The paying spouse was convicted of family violence within two years of the date of the filing of divorce;
  • The marriage was 10 years or longer, and the requesting spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for minimal needs (including property awarded in the divorce) and cannot support himself or herself through appropriate employment because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
  • The marriage was 10 years or longer, and the requesting spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for minimal needs (including property awarded in the divorce) and is the custodian of a child who requires substantial care and personal supervision, making it necessary for that spouse to remain at home with that child; or
  • The marriage was 10 years or longer, and the requesting spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for minimal needs (including property awarded in the divorce) and lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to provide for minimal needs.

There are a lot of difference factors that the judge will consider before awarding spousal support in Texas

It is imperative to contact an attorney that has the knowledge and experience necessary to guide you through the difficult terrain of divorce.  Renken Law Firm has the experience and dedication necessary. Contact us for your free consultation.

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