Texas Divorce Process

Ending a marriage in Texas involves a very different process depending upon the details of your relationship, the reasons for your breakup, the existence of children or jointly owned property, and the demands each party is making on the other.

Jurisdiction For A Texas Divorce

The Texas divorce process differs significantly depending upon whether it is contested or uncontested. However, in any Texas divorce there are certain residency requirements that must be met in order to get a divorce in the state and county.

  • You or your spouse must have resided in Texas for at least 6 months;
  • You or your spouse must have resided in the county where you are filing for divorce for at least 3 months.

The periods of residency referenced here cannot be aggregated, but assuming you have met these qualifications, the next step is to determine whether to proceed with a contested or uncontested divorce.

Uncontested Divorce in Texas

An uncontested divorce is simpler and quicker, but certain requirements must be met. The following are the basic requirements to qualify for the uncontested divorce process in Texas:

Statute

Texas Family Code Chapter 6.001- 6.201

Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce
  1. The parties do not have children together under the age of 18;
  2. Do not own property together or have retirement benefits to divide;
  3. Do not seek alimony;
  4. Do not have an ongoing bankruptcy case; and
  5. Both agree to end the marriage.

If the qualifications are met the divorce itself involves you and your spouse coming to an agreement about all the terms of your divorce, filling out, and filing divorce papers. The forms required may vary from county to county. After filing, Texas requires a 61 day "cooling off period" to pass before the divorce can be finalized. After the expiration of this period there is a final hearing where, if the parties have presented the appropriate documentation and the jurisdiction and cooling off period completion have been established, the judge signs the Final Decree of Divorce. The divorce is complete at this time, though there is a 30 day window for appeals, during which time the divorced parties are not permitted to remarry.

Contested Dissolution of Marriage

Where the parties are ineligible for the simpler uncontested procedure, or have disagreement about some aspect of the divorce, a different process is required. The jurisdiction requirements are exactly the same as those for an uncontested divorce.

First, the party seeking the divorce [petitioner] files a petition for divorce with the court clerk in the appropriate county and serve a copy of the paperwork to their spouse [respondent.] The petitioner may request a Temporary Restraining Order [TRO] to prevent their spouse from spending, destroying, or otherwise eliminating marital property, or to ensure that one party doesn't harass or menace the other. If a TRO is issued the court must schedule a hearing as to the order within 14 days of its issuance.

Next, the respondent has 20 days plus the next following Monday to file a response with the court clerk, along with requests for any temporary orders they are seeking. Both parties will be required to submit documents relating to their claimed assets, income, expenses, and other information relevant to child support and alimony claims, but if either party feels that they haven't received all of the relevant information they can then request additional discovery.

Finally, If the parties haven't come to an agreement at this point mediation is encouraged (and in many counties required) in an attempt by the court to find a mutually-agreeable resolution without needing a trial. However, if these attempts are unsuccessful a trial date is scheduled. In most cases a final order of divorce is issued at the conclusion of the trial. As with uncontested divorces, a contested divorce cannot be finalized prior to the expiration of the 61 day cooling-off period and no remarriage can occur within the 30 day appeals period.

Related Resources

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