Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce in Texas
Prior to filing for divorce in Texas you or your spouse must have been a resident of Texas for at least six months and a resident of the county in which you file for 90 days.
The county will charge a filing fee of $300 to $350, depending on the county. There are also fees for service when filing for divorce.
There is a 60-day "waiting period," which begins on the day the divorce is filed. Except in specific circumstances involving family
violence, a party cannot obtain a divorce prior to the end of the waiting period. The actual time it takes to conclude your divorce depends on the issues and personalities involved, the method you have chosen to handle your divorce and, in some cases, the court's docket.
The standard in Texas is to appoint parents as joint managing conservators. Conservatorship deals with the rights and duties of a parent. "Custody" in Texas takes the form of a possession order that sets out the schedule for who has the children when. A copy of the Standard Possession Order ("SPO"), which is frequently ordered by the courts, is available on this website.
Parents are free to agree to another schedule, as long as the court finds the schedule is in the children's best interests. For more information, go to our custody and visitation page. We can also help unmarried parents negotiate a standard or non-standard custody arrangement that meets their needs.
Texas law bases child support on the obligor's income and the number of children the obligor is obligated to support. (The obligor is the parent ordered to pay support). For example, under the Texas Child Support Guidelines, a parent ordered to pay support for one child (and who has no other children to support) would likely be ordered to pay 20 percent of his or her net disposable income as support (calculated on up to a maximum of $8,500 net disposable monthly income.) adjusted every 6 years for inflation.
The possession order agreed to by the parties or ordered by the court, the finances of the parties, the needs of the children and many other factors may result in a child support order that varies from the guidelines. People may agree to child support that varies from the guidelines under certain circumstances. "Above guidelines support" may be warranted cases involving high wage earners or a child with special needs. You should discuss the specific facts of your case with a lawyer. For more information, go to our child support page.
Typically, the parent ordered to pay support (the "obligor") is also obligated to provide or pay for health insurance for the children. Particular circumstances may result in parents sharing the expense or in the other parent (the "obligee") paying for health insurance.
No. Texas courts are not empowered to order payment of college expenses. Parents may, however, agree to allocate the payment of college expenses and provide for that in their divorce decree.
That depends. Certainly, if you and your spouse reach an agreement, you can move and agree on a possession order that meets everyone's needs and that is in your children's best interests.
If left up to the judge, he or she will likely impose some residency restriction as it is the stated policy in the Texas Family Code to encourage frequent contact between a child and his or her parents. It is typical for the court to limit residence to the county of residence and all adjacent counties. Individual circumstances, however, may warrant a deviation from the standard residency restriction. For more information, go to our parental relocation page.
The court can only divide the community property of the parties; it cannot divide or give away separate property. Generally speaking, separate property is property you owned prior to marriage or property you acquired during marriage by gift or inheritance. Some personal injury proceeds may also be separate property. Community property is generally all property you acquired during marriage.
"Characterization" of property can be very complex. Some property may be both separate and community. Reimbursement claims may also exist. There are many rules and much case law on characterization of property. Your lawyer will go over your property and how it was acquired in great detail to properly advise you about its character.
Remember, in Texas, a community property state, the fact that the property held or titled in one person's name does not mean it is that person's separate property.
Retirement benefits accruing during marriage are community property and are therefore subject to division by the court. That does not necessarily mean they will be divided, but they will be considered in dividing the community estate of the parties when filing for divorce. To divide a 401k or pension, the Court will sign a separate order - a qualified domestic relations order ("QDRO") which will tell the plan what to do with the retirement funds that have been divided.
Texas has a statute providing for limited post-divorce spousal support called "Court-Ordered Maintenance." The general rule is that a court may order maintenance if the parties have been married 10 years and the spouse seeking maintenance is unable to provide for his or her reasonable minimum needs. Maintenance is limited to a maximum of 20 percent of the obligor's gross income or $5,000 per month, whichever is lower duration of the order depends on the length of the marriage.
This general rule may not apply in certain situations and many factors are looked to by the court in determining whether to award maintenance.
The parties can agree to contractual alimony that varies from the above guidelines.
There are special provisions for cases involving family violence convictions, disabled spouses and for parents providing support for a disabled child.
If all legal requirements were met, the court should uphold a prenuptial agreement. It is important to bring your prenuptial agreement with you to the first meeting with your lawyer.
Each case is different. How much your case costs depends on the complexity or the issues involved in your divorce, the cooperation (or lack thereof) from your spouse and his or her lawyer, the length of time to reach a resolution and many other factors. For instance, if you have an uncontested divorce matter, the time and amount of paperwork it takes to wrap up the dissolution will probably be very different than that of a couple who engages in protracted litigation on every issue.
This is where you need an attorney's help for a single legal issue, such as help with filling out a form, drafting a contract or order, or representing you one time in court for something like a paternity action or a child support hearing. To learn more about limited scope representation, please click here.
Contact Linda Stanley, P.L.L.C.
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 .
Attorneys seeking mediation services with Ms. Stanley send an e-mail requesting a specific date.