The decision to file for divorce in Texas is never easy. Once you have decided to get a divorce, the next step is to file your divorce petition. You may be wondering about the steps to file for divorce in Texas. Keep in mind that not all jurisdictions within Texas are the same. There may be different procedures based on the county in which you file. The divorce process can be complex, and we recommend working with an experienced attorney who can help you avoid severe legal and financial pitfalls while you file. We will discuss the general steps to filing for divorce in Texas below.
Requirements to File for Divorce
There are no separation requirements to file for a divorce in Texas. As long as one spouse has been living in Texas for six months and is a resident of the county for 90 days, he or she can file for divorce. As soon as you or your spouse meets Texas residency requirements in the state and country, you can file for divorce.
One of the spouses must have been a domiciliary of Texas for the preceding six-month period. Being a domiciliary means that a spouse primarily lives in Texas. If one spouse does not live in Texas, that spouse can file for divorce in Texas. However, the spouse that does live in Texas must meet the residency requirements.
Filing a Divorce Petition in Texas
One of the spouses will need to file the first petition called the “Original Petition for Divorce.” The spouse who filed the petition will also need to pay the required court fee. As soon as the spouse files the petition, the divorce process will start. You will need to file the petition in the appropriate jurisdiction, which will depend on the length of residence of either of the spouses. After you file the petition, the court clerk will sign your case with an identifying number.
After the petitioner files the divorce petition, the other spouse, called the respondent, needs to receive notice. The spouse who filed the petition cannot simply call the other spouse and tell them they filed for divorce. Instead, the petitioner may need to serve the respondent, providing legal notice or requesting the respondent to sign a waiver of service. Signing a waiver of service does not mean that the spouse agrees to the allegations in the original petition. It just means that they are waiving formal legal service.
The Divorce Hearing
Divorce petitions generally require at least one court hearing before the court will make a final decision. When the spouses cannot agree on all of the significant issues in the divorce, such as alimony, child custody arrangements, division of property, and debt, the parties will need to present evidence to the court. The longer the parties cannot agree on their divorce settlement, the longer the divorce process will last. If the parties cannot agree, litigation may need to occur.
The judge will ultimately decide the contested issues and the divorce case after hearing arguments and evidence presented by both sides. However, if the parties seek an uncontested divorce, they have already agreed to all critical issues. In this scenario, the respondent may not need to attend the hearing. With uncontested divorces, the judge may decide to formalize the spouses’ proposed divorce settlement that they agreed to out of court.
The Final Divorce Decree
After all of the issues in the divorce have been resolved, the court will enter a final divorce decree. Getting to the final divorce decree can take very little time if the parties are amicable and the divorce is uncontested. However, if the divorce is disputed, it could take a significant amount of time. When a couple has not been able to agree on important issues in the divorce, they may be unhappy with the judge’s decision. For this reason, it is essential to try to negotiate with a spouse to come to an agreement that both parties find acceptable before trial.
How Long Does a Divorce Take in Texas?
The length of time a divorce takes depends on several different factors. In Texas, a divorce can be over in as few as 60 days. Many states require a waiting period before the judge can sign a divorce decree. This is sometimes called a cooling-off period. One or both spouses may decide that they do not want to get divorced during this time frame and call it off. The cooling-off period in Texas is 60 days. If the couple has an uncontested divorce, the petitioner can file the divorce, and within 60 days, the judge can finalize the divorce. Certain jurisdictions in Texas have stipulations about how long the parties need to weigh before they can choose to get remarried.
Complex divorce cases can take several years. The amount of time it takes to be complete depends on how many complicated issues arise. A court may choose to order a social study to evaluate parents and their living situations if a child custody matter arises. The study can take two years, or even as long as a year or longer.
Complex property division can also cause the divorce to last significantly longer. When the couple cannot divide their property and debt, the divorce proceedings can extend even longer. When a couple owns significant or complex assets, one or both spouses may bring in an expert to evaluate the property, adding to the time it takes to finalize the divorce.
Pursuing an Uncontested Divorce? Contact Divorce Concierge
Going through a divorce does not need to drain your bank account. At Divorce Concierge, we provide flat-rate legal services for couples in Texas pursuing an uncontested divorce. If you are interested in learning about our legal services, contact our McKinney, Texas law firm as soon as possible.