Texas Divorce Information And FAQ

How long do I have to live in Texas before I can file for divorce?

You have to live in Texas for at least six months before you can file for divorce. In addition, you have to live in the county where you actually file for divorce at least 90 days before you file your divorce petition.

Is there a waiting period before the divorce is granted?

Yes. You have to wait at least 60 days from the date of filing of the divorce petition before you can present the final divorce decree to the judge for entry.

How long does divorce take?

How long a divorce takes often depends on your individual circumstances. An uncontested divorce often takes less time than a contested one. This is because the strategy you choose to approach your divorce also impacts how long your divorce will take. Taking your divorce to trial often lasts longer than mediation.

In addition to the residency requirement and the waiting period, the shortest time a divorce could take is an average of 120 days. However, it could take longer for you and your spouse to determine the details of the divorce.

How much does divorce cost?

The initial filing fee for a divorce petition is about $300, depending on where you live. There are additional costs that depend on your situation, the approach you take and how long your divorce could take. For example, resolving matters through mediation often takes less time and money than taking your divorce to trial.

The average cost of divorce, including all additional fees, is about $15,000.

What if my husband or wife and I agree on the division of property?

When spouses agree on the division of assets, they can have an uncontested divorce. Generally, either the husband or the wife hires an attorney to prepare the original petition for divorce. The petition is filed and the 60-day waiting period begins to run. During this 60-day period, the attorney prepares the final divorce decree granting the divorce, dividing community assets, and establishing custody and possession of the children. Upon the expiration of the 60-day period, the attorney goes to court with his client and "proves up" the divorce. Note that one attorney cannot represent both the husband and wife in an uncontested divorce. The attorney represents either the husband or the wife. The unrepresented spouse either hires his or her own lawyer or proceeds pro se.

What if my husband or wife committed adultery?

A divorce in Texas may be obtained on fault grounds as well. Adultery is one of these grounds. Other grounds for obtaining a divorce include cruelty and abandonment. When a fault ground is alleged as a basis for the divorce, along with a no-fault ground, the court may consider the fault of a spouse in the breakup of the marriage in dividing the community estate.

What if my husband or wife is abusive?

Divorce is already an emotionally complex situation, and it can be even more difficult if you have endured domestic abuse. Remember, you do have options to leave an abusive relationship.

What is the community estate?

In very general terms, everything accumulated after marriage belongs to the community estate. Everything owned by the husband or wife before marriage is his or her separate property. The relevance of whether something is community or separate property has to do with a court's powers of division in a divorce proceeding. A court may only divide community, not separate, property. In Texas, the presumption is that everything the couple owns upon the filing of a divorce is community property. If property is, in fact, separate, the burden is on the spouse claiming separate property to prove the separate nature of the property by clear and convincing evidence. There are exceptions to the "everything is community property after marriage" rule. For instance, anything acquired by gift, devise or bequest after marriage by a spouse is that spouse's separate property. In addition, money received by one spouse for personal injuries suffered during the marriage (in a car accident, for instance) is also that spouse's separate property.

What will happen to our family home in property division?

There are a few options for your home in property division, including one spouse staying in the home or the spouses dividing the home equity.

How is alimony determined in Texas?

In Texas, alimony, or spousal maintenance, is not always awarded in a divorce. A spouse requesting alimony must fit certain criteria to receive support payments.

We have children. How will custody be decided?

Custody of children is decided on the basis of a "best interest" analysis. In Texas, the presumption in the Texas Family Code is that it is in the children's best interest for both parents to be appointed joint managing conservators. This does not mean that the parents will share equal possession of the children. One parent is always appointed the primary joint managing conservator. However, the parents, as joint managing conservators, have equal rights with respect to making decisions in their children's lives. The one exception is that the primary joint managing conservator has the exclusive right to establish the children's residence. Sometimes courts impose geographic restrictions on a parent's right to establish the children's primary residence. Sometimes they do not.

What are geographic restrictions?

Courts can impose restrictions on a parent's ability to move with the children. For instance, if the parties are divorced in Bexar County, the judge might restrict where the child lives to Bexar and surrounding counties.

Do I need a divorce attorney?

Whether or not you need a divorce attorney also depends on your circumstances. If you and your spouse agree to the divorce and are willing to cooperate and compromise throughout the process of your divorce, you may not need one.

Times that hiring a divorce attorney is essential are if you have experienced domestic violence or if you and your spouse have a high net worth.

Retaining an attorney who understands the divorce process and Texas family laws can help protect your rights and best interests. Even if you and your spouse are willing to cooperate, it still may be beneficial to have an advocate in your corner to guide you through the detailed process of divorce. However, it is always important to choose a lawyer carefully. You want to make sure your attorney will take the time to listen to your goals and meet your needs.