The divorce process varies depending on which state you live in. Some states require you to live in the state for at least 6 months before divorcing, while others might need a shorter amount of time. We’ve outlined the steps to getting a divorce in the state of Texas.
Step 1: Determine Eligibility
You and your spouse must have been living in Texas for at least 6 months before getting a divorce. This doesn’t mean you must have been married in the state of Texas. If one of you lives out of state, you can still file for divorce in Texas if at least one of you is still in residence in the state. If neither of you has lived in Texas for at least 6 months, you must wait to divorce until you can meet the residency requirement or you can file for divorce in your previous state of residency.
Step 2: Establishing Grounds
In Texas, you do need to have grounds for divorce. There are 7 reasons Texas will allow you to divorce, including the following:
- Conviction of a felony
- Living apart
- Confinement in a mental hospital
Insupportability is the only ground that doesn’t place fault on either spouse. By claiming this reason, you would be saying there are differences in the marriage that can’t be overcome.
Step 3: Determining the County
When you file a petition for divorce, you will need to do so in the county where you or your spouse have been living for at least 90 days. This will be the county in which all of your filings, hearings, and other court appearances will happen. If neither of you has lived in the county for the required 90 days, you will need to wait to file until you meet the requirement.
Step 4: Determining Your Type of Divorce
There are two types of divorce you could get in Texas—uncontested and contested. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse can agree on all the key issues in a typical proceeding. However, you are only eligible for an uncontested divorce if you have no children together under the age of 18, you both want to end your marriage, you do not have an ongoing bankruptcy case, you do not own property together, you have no retirement benefits to divide, and neither of you is seeking alimony. If you don’t meet these requirements, you will have to proceed with a contested divorce.
Step 5: Hiring an Attorney
While people have proceeded with divorces without the assistance of an attorney, divorce lawyers can help couples navigate through the often complicated process of dividing property and determining custody. If you and your spouse have a hard time agreeing on anything, or your spouse is trying to get more out of the divorce out of spite, a skilled advocate can help build your case and protect your interests. If you decide to hire an attorney, make sure to do your research. Talking to friends, family, and coworkers about their recommendations is a good way to get in touch with a lawyer. There are also online search engines designed to help people find the right lawyer for their particular case. Once you find a good candidate, talk to him or her in an initial consultation. This will help you get a feel for the attorney and his or her style of communication. Ask him or her questions you have about the process and how his or her billing process works. You will want to consult an attorney with a good track record of handling divorce cases.
Step 6: File Your Petition
To start the process, you will have to prepare a petition for divorce. This is a court document you will have to fill out that asks the court to rule on and finalize your divorce. Your local court will likely have a physical copy available at the court or a website with all the paperwork available. This petition will ask you for your personal information, what level of discovery you will need, how you are going to provide legal notice to your spouse, dates of marriage, grounds for divorce, and information regarding your children, any history of violence, and property questions. It will also have space for a request for judgment, which asks the court to accept your divorce. Once you fill out the paperwork, you will need to file a copy with the court clerk, get it signed, and pay a fee. If you have an attorney, he or she will help you with this process.
Step 7: Giving Legal Notice
State law requires you to serve your spouse with the divorce papers. If your spouse is aware of the divorce, or you are filing for an uncontested divorce, your spouse can sign a waiver and file it with the petition for divorce. If your spouse is unaware of the divorce or doesn’t agree with it, you will need to send a sheriff or other qualified person to serve your spouse with the papers. If you cannot find your spouse, you can notify him or her through publication, which involves publishing your notice of divorce. Your spouse then has an opportunity to answer the claims in the divorce.
Step 8: Wait
After you file your petition for divorce, you are required to wait 60 days before the divorce can be finalized. During this time, you and your spouse can go through mediation if the divorce is contested. Mediation can help you finalize the details of your divorce before your hearing. There could also be interim court hearings for important and immediate issues, such as temporary orders for child custody or restraint. If you and your spouse have kids, you both may also have to go through specific classes discussing divorces and children during this time.
Step 9: Finalizing the Divorce
The last legal document you will have to prepare and file is a decree of divorce. The document verifies all of the final decisions made by you, your spouse, and the court, including decisions on custody, money, property, and support. You and your spouse will then need to attend a divorce hearing, which is the final step. If your divorce is uncontested, the judge will look over the divorce decree, and he or she will sign it if it is satisfactory. If the divorce is contested, the judge will listen to both sides and decide how to end the marriage, which could include how property will be divided and who gets child custody. The judge’s decisions will be formalized in the divorce decree, and the judge will sign it.
If you’re interested in discussing your particular case with a skilled Katy divorce attorney, don’t hesitate to call us. Adams Law Firm has more than 35 years of legal experience to offer you and your family. We understand this may be a difficult and emotional time for you, so we do our best to make our clients feel comfortable calling us at any time. Our lawyers are also highly rated and have built a strong reputation for excellence in family law and civil trial representation. Let us see what we can do for you.