To file for divorce in Texas one party must reside in Texas at least six months and in the county of filing for at least ninety days.
The sixty days following the filing of a divorce is commonly called the "waiting period." Except in specific circumstances involving family
violence, a party cannot obtain a divorce during this sixty-day period. After the waiting period, a divorce can be granted anytime the parties are ready to proceed. The waiting period and any additional time necessary is used to reach agreements, gather information, prepare documents and see how possession of children is working.
Often, parties attempt to sell real property during this time as well. If a qualified domestic relations order is required, this time is used to seek approval of that document. The agreements reached between the parties or the orders of the court following a trial are memorialized in the Divorce Decree which will be signed by the court.
Initiating the Suit for Divorce
In Texas, a lawsuit must be filed to obtain a divorce. One party files a petition and that party is referred to as the petitioner. The other party responds to the petition by filing a waiver or answer. That party is referred to as the respondent.
There are many issues related to children which will need to be addressed. Those involve conservatorship, possession and support, among others.
Studies have shown that the most important thing you can do to help your children through divorce is to minimize conflict between you and your spouse. You can take an important step toward that goal by mediating, using the collaborative law process or by selecting a lawyer who will help you minimize rather than incite conflict.
It is important to understand that final decrees are not necessarily final when it comes to children. Conservatorship, possession and support can be modified later.
Property and Debt
The decree needs to divide all property. If there is property which is undivided at the time of divorce, you and your spouse will retain an undivided one-half interest in the property and litigation may later be necessary to divide that property. Therefore, it is very important to address all property in the decree. You will need to divide your debt as well.
Texas has a spousal maintenance statute which provides that a court may award limited spousal support if certain conditions are met. Generally, the marriage must be of 10 years duration and the spouse seeking support must be financially unable to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs. Spouses can, of course, agree to any amount of contractual alimony.
If it is necessary to have orders in place during the pendency of the divorce, the parties can agree on or the court will impose "Temporary Orders" which will remain in place until the divorce is granted. Temporary orders can address a variety of issues such as conservatorship, custody and support. The orders may also provide for who has the right to live in the house, drive the vehicles of the parties or operate a community business. In Travis County, a Standing Order imposes certain injunctions on both parties as soon as the divorce is filed. More information about the Travis County Standing Order can be found at the Travis County Courts website. There is no "legal separation" in Texas and temporary orders take the place of a legal separation agreement found in some states.
Finalizing the Divorce
If an agreement is reached, a decree will be signed by both parties and signed by the judge when one party goes to court to "prove up" the divorce at an uncontested docket. If a trial is needed on some or all issues, the divorce will be granted then. Once you obtain the divorce, the divorce is not final for 30 days. However, the "date" of your divorce will be the date the decree is signed by the court. You may not remarry within that thirty days, unless the thirty-day prohibition is waived.
This overview of the divorce process is for informational purposes only. It is not by any means meant to be an exhaustive article nor should it be interpreted as legal advice regarding the subjects addressed. For further information, please consult a lawyer of your choosing or contact our offices to schedule a confidential consultation. Call 512-399-5718, or send us an e-mail.