When it comes to getting a divorce in Texas there are multiple ways that you can go about the process. However, at the end of the day, the specific steps that you need to follow when it comes to getting divorced are the same for you as they are for anyone else who's interested in becoming divorced. The most significant detail when it comes to the divorce case and what it means for you and your family is whether you are represented by an attorney. Having the advice and perspective of an experienced family law attorney can be a major advantage for you as you begin down what can be a difficult road toward divorce.
However, it is possible to get divorced without an attorney in Texas. While it is certainly advisable to seek out competent and effective representation for your divorce case it is not legally necessary. throughout this guide to getting divorced in Texas without an attorney representing you, we will share information and perspective on obtaining a divorce in the most cost-effective and results-oriented manner possible. As always, if you have any questions about the material contained in this guide, please do not hesitate to contact the law office of Brian Fagan. We can help you to schedule a free-of-charge consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys to talk to you about any questions you have and to discuss with you some of the advantages of hiring an experienced family law attorney for your divorce.
The basics of getting a divorce in Texas
There is a basic set of steps that a person in your position needs to take to get divorced in Texas. For starters, you need to be a resident of the state of Texas for at least six months before filing for divorce. Additionally, you need to be a resident of the county in which you are filing for divorce for at least 90 days before being able to file for divorce in that county. Either you or your spouse can fulfill the residency requirement by living in Texas for the required periods. This could be a tool that you use if you reside outside of Texas yet 1 ticket divorced in Texas.
When you are ready to file for divorce, you would file an original petition for divorce in the county or District Court that is relevant to your Jurisdiction. It could be a District Court, county court, or even county court of law. The names may be slightly different depending upon the county where you need to file but the overall message that we need to make clear to you is that a family court that's where your case will need to be filed. You can contact the court directly to find out where you need to file your original divorce petition. Many counties in Texas even have specific guidelines for filing for divorce if you are not represented by an attorney.
Along with your original divorce petition, you would then need to pay for a citation to be drafted along with your original divorce petition. If you are requesting temporary orders as a part of your divorce, then you would need to drop those temporary orders as well as request a hearing for those temporary orders. A notice of hearing should be included with your filings to allow the court to issue a temporary order hearing date for you and your spouse to attend. This should be done even if you plan on attending mediation rather than proceeding with the divorce through the courts.
Next, you will need to hire A private process server or a law enforcement officer 2 go to the courthouse to pick up the documents that have been filed and stamped by the clerk to have them served upon your spouse. You cannot serve them yourself. This is technically not an effective service of process and can be an issue that is challenged by your spouse. In the alternative, your spouse could sign a waiver of service where he or she waives their right to personal service and instead acknowledges and receives the divorce papers directly from you. You would need to have the waiver of service filed with the court so that they are aware that the service of process has been waived by him or her.
It is only after your spouse has received notice of the divorce that the case truly begins in earnest. in Texas, there is a 60-day waiting period from the time your divorce is filed until the earliest date on which you can obtain a divorce from the family court judge. Your divorce is not final until a final decree of divorce has been submitted to the family court judge assigned to your case and has been signed by him or her. Once the divorce has been approved by the judge you can obtain a copy of your completed final decree of divorce from the court. This is a general overview of the divorce process in Texas.
A hypothetical example to illustrate a standard divorce timeline in Texas
Hopefully, the above explanation regarding the divorce process in Texas made sense. However, I know that giving examples of situations can better illustrate the process of getting divorced. Let's suppose that you and your spouse have been married for 10 years and in that time have had three children together. However, you decided to move out of the home and start the Divorce process. Once you moved out of your marital home it became clear to your spouse that there is no use trying to fight to keep you in the marriage period as a result, the two of you worked through all the issues if you're case including child custody, child support, conservatorship rights, and duties as well as a division of your marital estate.
in Texas, there is no requirement that you wait to file for divorce after moving out. Texas is not a state that has anything like a legal separation between parties so there is no sense in waiting to file, necessarily. You worked to draft an original divorce petition and to have a citation completed to be served along with your original divorce petition. Once the paperwork has been served upon your spouse the process server would return the citation to the court showing that the surface had been effectuated. from there, you and your spouse can begin the process of taking your negotiated divorce and putting it into writing through a final decree.
Once your final decree of divorce has been drafted then the two of you can review the language and make any necessary changes. This is where the two of you need to be on the same page as far as any changes that are proposed. If you both agree with the language used in the final decree of divorce the two of you could sign your names to the document and file it with the court. The final step in the process is to obtain a judge’s signature on your final decree of divorce.
Typically, a signature on a final decree of divorce is obtained in a hearing known as a prove-up hearing. You can schedule they prove-up hearing with the judge of your court by contacting their office in determining when prove-up hearings are held by that judge. For many courts, these prove-up hearings are held first thing in the morning in what is known as the uncontested docket. These are hearings in cases where the parties agree on the issues or where one party has not participated in the lawsuit.
It is a good idea to bring multiple copies of your signed and completed final decree of divorce to the court on the morning of your prove-up hearing. This way, if the judge is willing to sign the document in front of you, you can have a version for yourself as well as multiple versions to be filed with the court. Attending a prove-up hearing is a straightforward process. you would need to sit in the gallery of seeds until your name is called by the judge or their clerk. When your name is called by the judge you should listen for any instructions. Your case may be heard in the courtroom or in a different area depending upon the judge and the policies of that court.
Once it is time for you to approach the judge you should do so quietly and with documents in hand. You will be sworn in so that the testimony you give to the judge can go on the record. At that point, the family court judge would ask you a series of very basic questions about you, your spouse, and your children as well as the date you all were married as well as your separation date. Once the judge has asked you these questions and you have responded with your answers then he or she would sign their name to the divorce decree. It may be the case that the judge’s policy is to only sign off on divorces at one time of the day so you may not officially get his signature from the judge during the hearing itself. However, the judge would likely tell you on the record that you are officially divorced.
It is important to understand that there are parts of a divorce case that require you to get those circumstances handled in the case itself. For example, if you do not ask the court for spousal maintenance or child support during the divorce case you would not be able to reopen the case in the request either of those sorts of payments later. Additionally, you need to be satisfied with how your community estate is divided in the divorce. If you fail to attend to these matters in the divorce case itself you will not be able to go back and address them later on.
For that matter, the information that we provide in this guide to divorce is not legal advice. While you can follow the general steps that we outline for divorce nothing you see in this guide can substitute for effective assistance of counsel in your divorce. Your rights under Texas law as well as your duties to your children are best protected when you have an attorney representing you throughout a case. If you feel unsure about moving forward in a divorce without representation, then you should contact An attorney with the law office of Brian Fagan. We can walk with you through your divorce circumstances and provide you with information about how you can best proceed in your case.
The uncontested divorce with no minor children or real property
The simplest divorce petition that you can file in Texas is an original petition for divorce where you do not have any minor children or real property. It is important to note that you should consider if your divorce has truly uncontested. An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse do not disagree on any issue in your case and that you all do not want to site-specific fault grounds for divorce such as adultery or cruelty. So long as this is the case and you and your spouse do not plan to reconcile then filing it uncontested divorce petition would seem to be something that you could engage in.
If you are filing the original divorce petition, then you will be known as the petitioner. Your spouse would be the respondent to the divorce because he or she will be responsible for filing an answer and responding to your original petition. The District Court or county court of law for your county would have a specific number that the clerk would fill in for you once your petition is filed. You would need to provide some identifying information with the last three digits of either your driver’s license number or your Social Security number.
Next, if you do not think that your spouse would be willing to sign a waiver of service then you would need to provide an address where service could be rendered by a sheriff, constable, or process server. Additionally, there are also circumstances where the clerk of the court could send certified mail to your spouse to provide him or her with notice that you have filed your case.
You will also have to check certain boxes that apply to you if you have lived in Harris County for the past 90 days, your spouses lived in Harris County for the past 90 days, if you observed in the armed forces outside of Texas but Harris County has become the home county of either you or your spouse for at least the 90 days prior as well as if you are a military spouse who can say the same. This is how you will be able to establish that Harris County is the appropriate county for your divorce to be filed in. A similar section will have to be completed regarding residency in the state of Texas the only difference being that you will have to have resided in Texas for the prior six months before the divorce was filed for a Texas family court to have jurisdiction over your case.
You will also need to complete information about your children and your original divorce petition. For an uncontested divorce without children, you would need to not have any children as well as not be pregnant if you are the wife. Something to consider is that if you have children who are over the age of 18 but are disabled and living at home then you may be able to receive child support. In that case, an uncontested divorce may not be in your best interests.
Another facet of a divorce is the division of property and debts. An uncontested divorce typically means that you all will have a plan in terms of how to divide your property. However, in an uncontested divorce form, it is important to note that you can ask the court to divide your community property based on the Texas family code if you all cannot determine how to do so yourself.
The final section that I wanted to bring to your attention today is regarding a name change. Typically, this is related to women changing their name to their maiden name or name before getting married. In any event, you would be asking the court to change your name to any name prior that you used before your marriage began.
Questions about the material contained in this section of today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.