Q:What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?
A:In Texas, there is no legal concept known as a separation. You can physically separate from your spouse (and this date may be important in your divorce) but it does not begin a formally recognized period of separation. Your divorce begins when you or your spouse fulfil the filing requirements of a divorce in Texas. That means drafting and filing an Original Petition for Divorce and then paying the filing fee for a county where you are a resident. You are the resident of a county if you have lived in Texas for at least the preceding six-month period and in that county for at least the previous 90 days.
Q:What is the difference between a contested and an uncontested divorce?
A:An uncontested divorce is one that is filed when all issues of your case-community property division and child custody issues- are all agreed upon by the two of you. Most divorces are contested due to it being very difficult to come to an agreement with your spouse on all issues related to your case prior to it being filed. A contested divorce is one where there are unresolved issues in your life that need to be negotiated upon between you and your spouse. If you are unable to settle your case, then a judge will play tiebreaker.
Q:What are the relevant issues in a Texas divorce?
A:It depends upon whether you have children or not. If you do have children under the age of 18 that are a product of your marriage then the range of issues related to your children- child support, possession, visitation, access, conservatorship issues and health insurance coverage all need to be decided. On the other end the spectrum are issues related to the division of your community estate. This includes personal property, vehicles, real property, investments, bank accounts as well as retirement savings. Finally, post-divorce spousal support, either contractual alimony or spousal maintenance, may also be relevant depending upon the length of your marriage and other factors.
Q:Do you need to specify a reason that you are filing for divorce in your Original Petition?
A:There is no need to cite a specific reason (known as a fault ground) in a Texas divorce petition. Rather, most divorces in Texas these days is a “no fault” divorce. This means that due to a conflict of your personality with your spouse with no chance for a reconciliation that you are filing for divorce. However, you may specify a reason for divorce- a particular fault ground- if one is applicable to you. Adultery, cruelty and abandonment are examples of particular grounds for divorce in Texas.
Q:How long will it take to get divorced?
A:That’s a trickier question! The length of a divorce largely depends on the nature of the unresolved issues in your case. If you and your spouse can negotiate well and problem, solve through these issues then your divorce will likely be shorter. On the other hand, if the unresolved issues in your case are substantial your divorce may take longer to complete. Either way, there is a 60-day waiting requirement from the date on which you file the divorce until the divorce can be granted by a judge.