Spousal separations are emotionally and mentally taxing. The circumstances can be made even more difficult by the complexity associated with the divorce process. Texas, like any state, has its own particular stipulations regarding divorce, and it is understandable for many to be hesitant when considering moving forward.
The desire to protect family and property keeps many from pursuing divorce, as they fear potential acrimony and loss. Understanding your rights and responsibilities is critical in order to mitigate the burden it can have on you and your family.
Divorce needs to be managed with respect, confidence, and urgency for the sake of all parties involved. Before proceeding, it’s important to understand that Texas is a no fault divorce state, what to expect when filing for divorce in Texas, and why you should always consult a family law attorney to help navigate the system’s complexities.
The Basics of No Fault Divorce in Texas
A critical aspect of our state’s divorce law is that, as stated previously, Texas is a no fault divorce state. This distinction makes divorce easier to pursue by expanding the viable grounds for divorce.
— In a no fault divorce, you do not have to prove any particular wrongdoing on the part of your spouse. You would file the divorce pleading marital discord, or “insupportability” due to personality differences, which is considered an acceptable cause for divorce in these cases.
— In a divorce alleging fault grounds, the accusing spouse does have to prove the legitimacy of their grievance, such as infidelity, abuse, abandonment, the other spouse’s imprisonment, or their long-term confinement in a mental institution. Divorce can also be granted in the event that spouses have lived separately for three or more years.
— There are advantages and disadvantages to both fault and no fault divorces. Fault cases require more effort in evidence-gathering and can get more contentious in court. However, legitimate cases of misconduct are considered in the division of property and the court may award more of the marital assets to the spouse filing for divorce. In Texas, it is assumed that property will be divided in a fair and just manner, and spousal misconduct can greatly affect the interpretation.
Also in Texas, “insupportability” (no fault) can still be considered by the judge even if an allegation of fault has been disproven.
The Divorce Process in Texas
When deciding to move forward with a divorce, consider these important steps in the divorce process.
Make sure that you meet the residency requirements to file for divorce in the state of Texas and in the county that you reside.
The divorce process is initiated by filing a Petition for Divorce and paying a fee at your county clerk’s office, making you the Petitioner. Divorce papers are then served to the other spouse (the Respondent). In the event that the split is mutually agreed upon, the Respondent can sign a waiver to avoid being served.
If the Respondent does not file a waiver, and once the Respondent has been served, they have a set number of days to respond. If the Respondent fails to answer the lawsuit timely pursuant to the law, the divorce proceedings could possibly continue with the Respondent’s participation and you may be entitled to obtain a default judgment against them.
Temporary Restraining Orders
When you file for divorce, you have the option to request a Temporary Restraining Order, which may protect any assets from disappearing before they can be assigned in court. This also prevents you or your spouse from acting in an uncivil or harassing manner toward one another. It can also contain extraordinary relief used to protect your property and your children as applicable. There is usually a court hearing within two weeks after filing, depending on which county you’re filing in.
The Divorce Decree
The fastest that a divorce can be finalized is after 60 days from the date that you file the divorce petition. Both parties can gather and exchange information and attempt to come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce, often with the aid of attorneys or mediators.
If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, either informally or via mediation, a hearing will be scheduled for a judge to make the final determination. This is common practice in most cases and several hearings may be called throughout the process.
When there is a disagreement that leads to a hearing, the process usually extends for several months beyond the 60-day minimum. At the trial, both parties present their information and arguments for the court to determine the settlement of issues. These include:
- Child support
- Child custody
- Debt allotment
In no fault cases, the court tries to make equitable distributions of the marital estate. But, if fault is proven at trial, you may be awarded more by the judge.
Either way, once the terms are agreed upon by both parties or ordered by the court in a hearing, a divorce decree is then drafted, circulated, and signed to finalize the divorce.
Work With Blair Parker to Navigate the Complexities
This is merely a basic outline of how divorce works in Texas. However, there are several nuanced considerations and circumstances that can greatly affect the process and the final ruling in the divorce decree. Everyone’s case is different and the facts will determine how we strategize handling your case.
Divorce is an emotionally and mentally stressful time for you, your spouse, and your children if children are involved. I am here to help you through these difficult circumstances and ensure that you receive the representation you deserve.
I am committed to protecting your rights, providing honest guidance, and working to achieve what is in the best interests of you and your family. Over the past decade, I have helped families in Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Harris County navigate the legal process in divorce actions and all other manner of family law litigation to arrive at the best possible outcome for all involved.
If you are separated from your spouse, considering divorce, or already moving through the divorce process and would like to know more about protecting your legal rights, call my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 right away. Let me help give you peace of mind during this difficult time.