No one sets out to get divorced, but there are times when a marriage reaches the point of no return. Suppose you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences, infidelity, abuse, or another cause for dissolving the marriage. In those instances, it’s important to know the appropriate steps to file for divorce in Texas.
Filing for divorce can be complicated, especially regarding child custody, child support, dividing up assets and liabilities, and other financial implications. Depending on whether or not you and your spouse see eye-to-eye, a divorce can get messy. That’s why it’s important to understand the divorce process step by step to arrive at the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Need immediate support from a family law attorney with your divorce proceeding in Texas? Contact my law offices to discuss your situation.
How to Complete the Divorce Process in Texas
I’ll walk you through each critical step in the divorce process.
1. File a Petition
In Texas, the first step in any divorce case is for one party to file what’s known as an “Original Petition for Divorce.” The cost will range from $280 or $310 to file, depending on the cost in your local district.
- Fort Bend County: $310 for divorces both with and without children involved.
- Brazoria County: $288 for divorces (no distinction of children or no children).
- Harris County: $283 for divorce without children and $310 for divorce with children.
It is not necessary to have your spouse’s permission to file this petition, but after the filing is completed, it will be necessary to inform him or her of your action. That’s the next step.
2. Provide Legal Notice
Once a divorce petition is filed, the next step is to provide legal notice to your spouse of your intent to dissolve the marriage. Due to the intense and highly volatile nature of divorce proceedings, simply telling your spouse of your action is not enough; there must be a legal record of the notice. This can happen one of two ways:
– First, your spouse (legally known as the Respondent) can be formally served papers. This method requires no action on the part of the Respondent.
– The other method, if your spouse agrees, is to have him or her sign a Waiver of Notice. This is simply a legal document that states he or she is aware of your action and the allegations (if any) you have made. It does not mean the Respondent agrees with your action or the allegations of the petition.
3. Cooling Off Period
In order to allow couples a chance to change their mind, Texas law requires that no judge sign a divorce decree for a “cooling-off” period of 60 days. This gives both parties some time to calm down and potentially talk through their differences.
In some cases, a couple might change their minds and agree to continue being married. In other cases, however, the divorce case advances to the next step.
4. The Hearing(s)
What happens next depends a great deal on the conditions of the divorce. If you and your spouse agree to the terms of the divorce, including things such as the division of property, child custody, etc., then you might only need to go court one time for what’s known as a “prove up.”
In this instance, a judge reviews the terms you have agreed on and, in most cases, gives a legal stamp of approval. In these cases, divorce is usually neat, easy, and cost-efficient.
However, many divorces are not so easy. When both parties can not agree on how best to dissolve the marriage and divide assets, it can often lead to a much more complicated (and costly) affair.
At this point, if you haven’t done so already, it’s best to hire an attorney who can help fight for you and support your case because you can be sure that your spouse will do the same. This is where I can help support you as an expert family law attorney in Texas.
In these instances, the divorce can stretch on for a lot longer and involve multiple hearings. In these hearings, the judge might request information, documents, and other records to decide who should be awarded property and custody of your children. Eventually, whether in a hearing for temporary orders or a final trial, the judge will make a decision, and both parties must abide by that decision or face legal consequences.
5. Post Judgment Motions or Appeals
Once a judge makes a ruling and signs a divorce decree, each spouse typically has 30 days to file any post-judgment motions or a notice of appeal. During this time, neither party may get re-married. If none of these are filed within 30 days, then the court loses plenary power and the case is considered disposed.
Other Things to Consider in a Texas Divorce
While some divorces are cut-and-dry and follow a clean series of steps, other times, divorces can become very complicated. This requires expert support to help you navigate tricky matters such as child custody, child support, or allegations that could influence the judge’s final decision. If a judge orders investigations and documents, this can extend the timeline, drive up costs, and put you at risk of losing your rights.
I can help you with all manners of divorces, from the simplest to the downright messy. I have helped individuals just like you in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County maneuver through the Texas legal system to arrive in the best possible position.
Contact me today for further guidance on the divorce process step by step. I’m here to help you during this difficult time. Call my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to discuss your situation. Let’s get started on your divorce case.