The Texas Divorce Process

What is the Texas divorce process? How do I start my divorce? Get the answers to these and other frequently asked questions about getting divorced in Texas:

How can I save my marriage if my spouse wants a divorce?

It can be traumatic to go through the process of divorce, especially if one party is not ready to give up on the marriage. You can certainly suggest marriage counseling to your partner. However, if he or she is unwilling to attend counseling and stills files for divorce, you cannot stop the legal process.

In Texas, you do not need your spouse’s consent to obtain a divorce. The most you can do is participate in the divorce process to ensure your rights are being protected. At the least, seek a consultation with a family law attorney so that you know what your rights are.

Should the two of you can reconcile, the spouse who filed for the divorce can then file a motion to dismiss or nonsuit the case.

How do I end my marriage peacefully?

The divorce process can be a terrible time in a person’s life and striving to make this a peaceful period is advisable. Try to focus on not arguing about small issues (i.e., who keeps the microwave?) and instead concentrate on what is best for you and your spouse (and your children, if you have them) to move forward.

Concentrating on the negative aspects of your relationship usually only serves to slow the divorce process down and make you miserable. The more you and your spouse can agree upon, the less painful and speedier the process will be.

How do I actually get a divorce in Texas?

In order to start the divorce process, your or your spouse must file the Original Petition for Divorce. The Original Petition is then served upon the other spouse by the sheriff, process server, through their attorney or by your spouse acknowledging they were served by another method such as certified mail.

It is important to note that sending the divorce paperwork by standard mail is not acceptable service unless your spouse agrees to it and signs a notarized document that this is acceptable to them.

Once the documents are served, your spouse has approximately 20 days to respond. If they do not respond, your matter will continue without his or her participation and you will be granted a divorce on a default basis.

If your spouse does respond, your matter is now contested, and you will begin the process of gathering information from your spouse, attempting to settle through the court and, possibly building your case for trial.

If you and your spouse cannot settle your matter, the court will have a trial and the judge will make all decisions for you.

How do I file for a pro-se or “do it yourself” divorce in Texas?

You can obtain the forms to file for divorce (and all other necessary forms for the process) from a website such as https://texaslawhelp.org/.

Remember, the divorce process can be complicated, so strongly consider a consultation with an experienced family law attorney before mistakes are made. Errors in your divorce can cost you more time and money than getting things done correctly the first time.

Do I need an attorney for my divorce?

The short answer is, anyone can go ahead and get a divorce on their own. That means that if they’re representing themselves, they’re called a pro se litigant.

And it’s completely understandable, they figure, “You know, let me just take care of this. I know what I want, I know what I expect out of the process and I’m going to get it done timely, I’ll be attentive to my matter.”

And they are permitted to go to the court, get certain paperwork and the court staff may even be able to make suggestions on where they can obtain Pro Se paperwork, but the staff is not permitted to give legal advice.

Having a do-it-yourself divorce type situation can oftentimes lead to a tremendous number of mistakes, so my suggestion is, just go, get advice, have an initial consultation with a lawyer, a free initial consultation, and then figure out what the right process is for you and how you are best able to handle it going forward.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Texas?

The traditional answer is, from the date of the filing of an Original Petition for divorce to the time that you get your final judgment of divorce is at least 61 days but often times it may take a year.

Many people panic when they hear that particular time frame because they think that it’s just simply too long. But the short answer is, if you and your spouse have definable issues and you can come to the resolution table and make compromises, you really can get the divorce over within just a few months.

But the reality is that if you do have complex issues that need to be addressed, it does extend the time. So, for instance, if you have business valuations that need to be addressed or custody that is in dispute for your children as far as parenting time and visitation and such, experts need to be employed, then certainly that expands the overall lifetime of a case, and it could, in fact, exceed a year.

How do I start the process for a divorce?

Simply put, you begin the process of divorce by filing the Original Petition for Divorce and accompanying documents with the court. From this initial filing, the rest of the process flows.

How long does the divorce process take?

This depends on the complexity of your case and whether or not your spouse can agree upon terms for your settlement agreement.

If you have no issues at all (i.e. no children, no property, no debts) then the process can be completed in as little as 61 days. If you have complex issues and cannot work out an agreement with your spouse, your divorce may take up a year or more.

Now that we’ve decided to divorce, can I make my spouse move out of the house?

One of the most common questions I get at the initial consultation with new clients is, “Can I make my spouse leave the house? If I file an Original Petition for divorce, how do I get my spouse out?” Well, the short answer is, you really cannot, not right away, not in the State of Texas.

What you need to understand is both of you have a right to stay in the house. It’s the marital home. You have a right of possession and you have a right to continue to occupy that residence during the pendency of your divorce process unless one of you by consent is willing to leave.

Now, please understand that your spouse will leave the house if, in fact, there is some type of protective order. That is under a very specific situation if, in fact, there is an abuse situation going on and you have a protective order in effect.

What is the discovery process in a divorce?

If you and your spouse cannot agree on terms of your divorce, your matter is contested and you will go through a discovery process. That process is the gathering of information from your spouse that you may use as evidence in your divorce matter.

This information includes things such as pay stubs, bank account information, property records and/or pension records.

The information is gathered through interrogatories (a list of questions that you send to be answered by your spouse), a notice to produce (a document listing the items you want your spouse to provide to you, such as bank information) and possibly depositions.

Depositions are when you or your spouse are asked questions in the presence of a court reporter. The person answering the questions is sworn to tell the truth and a written transcript is created which can be used later at trial.

How soon after my divorce can I remarry?

Not all states do not require a divorced person to wait before remarrying, however, under 6.801 of the Texas Family Code a person in Texas is free to marry again 30 days after the judge signs their final divorce order, called a “decree.” It is important to note that:

  1. The 30-day waiting period begins the day after the judge signs their final divorce order
  2. This means the 31 after the judge signs the divorce order is the earliest day you can legally remarry.
  3. the Judge does not always sign the Decree on the same day that you appear in court.

How do I file for a same-sex divorce?

The process for filing for divorce for same-sex couples is the same as that for opposite-sex couples.

Can we file for a “joint divorce” or a “divorce by mutual consent” in Texas?

Yes, the Texas Family code has provisions for what is known as a collaborative divorce.

What is the divorce process in a domestic violence situation?

The process of divorce is no different if you are in a domestic violence situation than if you are not. Domestic violence can certainly affect the issues in your divorce:

  1. your divorce may become contested and
  2. you and your spouse may not be permitted to attend certain meditation sessions together if there is protective order in place, for example.

However, the process by which you would obtain the divorce is the same.

How long do I have to be separated from my spouse before filing for a divorce in Texas?

You do not need to physically separate from your spouse in order to file for or even obtain a divorce in Texas.

Further, Texas does not recognize legal separations.

How do I obtain a Jewish divorce?

No court system will get involved in any religious aspects of a divorce. You do not need to obtain a religious divorce in order to be divorced in the civil court system.

To obtain a Jewish divorce Get, consult your religious advisor for details relating to religious divorce for members of the Jewish faith.

Is Texas the correct state to file for my divorce?

Under Texas Family Code Section 6.301 for a divorce action to be commenced in Texas Superior Court, one of the spouses must have been domiciled in Texas for 6 months or more and a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90-day period.

How do I file for divorce if my spouse lives out of state?

You may still file for divorce in Texas if your spouse has moved to another state, as long as you have lived here for 6 months and the county where you are filing for 90 days.

However, you still must follow correct procedure and be sure that your spouse is served in the new state according to Texas laws regarding service of process.

Your spouse may sign and have notarized a Waiver of Service document which lets the court know that he or she is fine with not being served formally.

Can I file for divorce with no money?

You will most likely still need to pay the filing fee for processing your divorce, though waivers are available if you can demonstrate financial need.

Your local legal aid office, located in the county where you reside may be able to help you at low or no cost.

What happens if my spouse and I reconcile?

If you and your spouse have decided to reconcile and a divorce has already been filed, contact your attorney so that he or she may file a motion with the court to dismiss or nonsuit the case filing. To help strengthen your union, it is also recommended to seek marriage counseling.

How do I tell my spouse that I want a divorce?

Telling your spouse, “I want a divorce,” may be one of the most difficult things you ever do. When letting your spouse know your intentions, try to do so honestly, openly and calmly, while avoiding having any such conversation in the presence of your children.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, it may be in the best interest of your safety to have this information relayed through a third party, such as your attorney.

How do I apply for a “divorce absolute?”

Texas does not recognize this type of procedure.

How do I file for divorce based upon adultery?

Adultery is one of several grounds for divorce. In Texas, you need to tell the court the reason why you want to divorce your spouse, called a ground.

If you wish to file for divorce based upon the grounds of adultery, then your Original Petition for divorce must list this as a ground for divorce.

Can I divorce my spouse in Texas without his or her knowledge?

You must make every effort to provide your spouse with notice that you have filed for divorce by properly serving your spouse with the Original Petition for divorce.

The court looks for proof that your spouse has been served so that the judge knows that you have properly notified them. If you do not know your spouse’s whereabouts, you must make a good faith effort to locate them through postal records, motor vehicle records or other investigation.

If this fails, the court may allow you to notify them by publishing notice of the divorce in the local newspaper in the town of their last known address.

Most courts will then appoint an attorney to represent your husband to check that you have made all these efforts to locate your spouse. This attorney may also make their own efforts to locate your spouse.

You will also have the privilege of paying for this attorney’s time.

How do I file for a divorce if my husband is incarcerated?

You can still file for divorce if your spouse is incarcerated. Like with a normal divorce a process server can serve your spouse in prison with the necessary divorce paperwork.

How do I file for divorce based upon abandonment?

Abandonment is another ground for divorce. In order to file for divorce based on abandonment, under the Texas Family Code Section 6.005 a spouse must show:

  1. that the other spouse left the marital home and did not intend to return, and
  2. the spouse will need to prove that the abandoning spouse has been out of the home for at least one year with no contact having been made with the spouse still living in the marital residence.

How do I know what to ask for in a divorce?

It is important to take the time to think about what is most important to you as an end result of your divorce.

Is it custody of your children? Alimony? Health insurance? Consider consulting with a family law attorney so that you are aware of your rights and what you may or may not be entitled to receive in the divorce.

How do I know when to ask for a divorce?

This is a very personal issue and deciding the appropriate time to begin this process really depends upon the couple and their situation.

Remember to avoid fighting, especially around children. If you are a victim of domestic violence, your (and your children’s) safety is most important. Seek assistance from your local police or courthouse.

How can I obtain a divorce if I am pregnant?

Pregnancy will not affect how you file for divorce or the procedure that you will follow in order to obtain the divorce.

However, it will delay the completion of your divorce. A judge in Texas will not allow the divorce to be finalized until the baby is born.

How can social media affect my divorce?

Separation and divorce are emotional times. Avoid posting negative messages, thoughts or pictures on any social media including Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

These messages can come back later to haunt you during the divorce process, especially if you have to go through a divorce trial. Anything you post can be saved and used against you in court.

Ready to talk about your situation and get your own questions answered? Call (281) 810-9760

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Other Articles you may be interested:

  1. How to Begin Your Texas Divorce
  2. Getting Uncontested Texas Divorce
  3. Texas Divorce Attorney Explains Starting the TX Divorce Process
  4. Grounds for Divorce in Texas
  5. Filing for Divorce in Texas
  6. Texas Contested Divorce
  7. Alternative Dispute Resolution in Texas
  8. High Net Worth Divorce in Texas
  9. Texas Out-Of-State, International Divorce & Military Divorce
  10. Why do divorces cost so much in Texas?
  11. Reduce stress and costs in a divorce by mediating your case
  12. How to budget for a cost friendly divorce in Texas

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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