A Texas divorce begins with a petition filed in a civil court. The state has residency requirements as well as laws governing the division of assets, child custody and the payment of alimony and/or child support.
Petition for Divorce
The Original Petition for Divorce must be filed in civil court. The state imposes a waiting period of at least 60 days before the court may grant the divorce. In practice, divorces may take much longer if the parties need to negotiate the terms of the divorce, including custody of any children and property division. After 60 days, the court may schedule a trial hearing to work out the settlement terms.
In order to file for divorce in Texas, you, or your spouse, must be a resident of that state for at least six months and a resident of the county in which you file the divorce petition for at least 90 days. There is no separate residency requirement if you have minor children, as in some other states such as Louisiana.
Texas law only requires that one of the parties in a divorce allege that irreconcilable differences have arisen, and the parties can no longer sustain the marriage. This “no-fault” law means you don’t have to prove specific grounds for divorce such as adultery, abandonment, cruelty, insanity, etc. You may allege grounds for the divorce if you choose to do so.
Waiver and Answer
If the other party signs and notarizes a waiver, you do not need to serve the divorce petition. The waiver acknowledges that the petition has been received. Without a signed waiver, you must have law enforcement or a private process server deliver a copy to the respondent. Once the petition is received, the respondent may file an Answer, establishing his claims to property and other terms to be settled in the divorce action.
Texas allows for mediation of contested divorces. The parties attend a mediation presided over by a neutral mediator to work out the terms of the divorce. This is less expensive than litigating the divorce through attorneys and allowing a judge to decide the terms of the settlement in court. If the mediation is successful, the court simply incorporates the terms of a mediated settlement agreement or MSA into the Final Decree.
References & Resources
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images