Your Dallas Divorce: The Basics

You thought y'all went together like brisket and pork ribs. But it turns out your marriage made in Texas heaven was more like the battle between the Ewings and the Barneses. Navigating a divorce can be worse than I-35 during rush hour. So here is some basic information covering Dallas divorce law.

What Is a Divorce?

In Dallas, a divorce can legally dissolve your marriage. At the same time, it can divide your community property and debt. If you have children, a divorce can determine custody, visitation, and child support. It can sometimes order alimony, also called "maintenance," in Texas. A divorce may also result in orders regarding contact between former spouses.

What Are the Reasons For Divorce?

Most divorces in Dallas are "no fault" divorces, meaning you may not need a "fault" to file for divorce. Instead, you can allege that there is such a conflict between you and your spouse that you do not expect to get back together or you believe that the marriage can't be fixed. Under a no fault system, a divorce can be granted even if your spouse doesn't agree to it. For a "no fault" divorce, you do not need to go into any details of the breakup.

On the other hand, you can ask the court to give you the divorce if you think your spouse is at fault. The grounds for a fault divorce in Dallas can be: adultery, cruelty, abandonment for at least one year, felony conviction, living apart for three years, or commitment to a mental institution. When a court grants a fault divorce, it may give more of the community property to the spouse alleging the fault.

How Do I File For Divorce In Dallas?

You can file for divorce in Dallas County if you have lived in Dallas County for 90 days. There are three main elements of a divorce filing: the Petition, Citation, and Decree of Divorce. The petition begins divorce proceedings. Generally it tells the court who you are and what you want to do, and contains the personal information of you and your spouse as well as information about your marriage.

The citation is the formal notice to your spouse that you are seeking a divorce. This can be done by a waiver of citation, where your spouse signs a form stating that he or she has no objection to a decree of divorce. Or you can have your spouse formally served by a by a Dallas County Constable's officer or a certified civil process server.

The divorce paperwork can be filed on the fourth floor of the New Tower at the George L. Allen, Sr. Courts Building at 600 Commerce Street. Here you can find directions to Dallas courthouses.

What Happens After I File For Divorce?

A Dallas divorce may take sixty (60) days or longer from the day you file for divorce for the court to make the divorce official. Sixty days is generally the minimum "waiting period," which can be used to cool-down and reconcile or to reach an agreement regarding the specifics of the divorce. If you and your spouse can agree on the terms of the divorce, the court will generally honor that agreement. If not, you may have to present the unsettled issues to a judge or jury to decide.

The decree of divorce officially grants the divorce and determines big issues, like child custody or child support. The decree also divides any marital property you and your spouse have in common, like a home, cars, or debt that you share. It can also deal with property in your possession, including clothes, furniture, books, etc.

Get Legal Help with Your Divorce in Dallas

A divorce can be difficult, especially with an uncooperative spouse, and having an attorney may make the process simpler. If you're thinking about getting divorced -- or have already started the process -- contact an experienced divorce attorney near you who can help ensure that your divorce puts problems behind you, instead of creating new problems that can follow you for years.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.