If you and your spouse can agree on the issues, a divorce can be completed fairly quickly and inexpensively in Texas. If you wish, a neutral party called a mediator can help you talk through the issues. If no agreement is possible, the judge can listen to the evidence and make the decision for you, although that option takes longer and is more expensive. The Texas Family Code applies to all divorces filed in the state but you must also become familiar with the local rules as policies and procedures vary from county to county.
You or your spouse must live in Texas for at least six months before filing for divorce and in the county for at least 90 days. Before then, the court does not have jurisdiction over the case, which means that it cannot hold a hearing or make a decision. Active duty military members can file for divorce in Texas if they have been stationed there long enough. If your home of record is Texas but you are stationed in another state or overseas, you have the right to file in Texas if you wish.
Starting the Process
Every Texas divorce begins by filing a petition for divorce at the county courthouse where you live and paying the filing fee. In the petition, you must state the identity of the parties, whether or not there are children, and what you want the court to decide. If appropriate, you may list grounds such as adultery or abandonment but stating that the marriage has become "insupportable" is sufficient for a Texas judge to grant a divorce.
Your Spouse's Response
Your spouse is entitled to receive a copy of the petition. In an uncontested divorce where both spouses agree that a divorce is needed, you can simply hand your spouse a copy of the petition or mail it to him. He should file a waiver of citation that tells the judge he does not want to be formally served. If, on the other hand, he wants to fight the divorce, you must arrange for a sheriff or other third party to serve him formally. The process server will file an affidavit with the court stating the date and time of service. If your spouse does nothing after he is formally served, the judge can make a decision in the case without his input. Otherwise, he should file a written answer within the time period stated on the court documents.
Finalizing an Uncontested Divorce
If you and your spouse can agree on the issues related to the divorce, you could be divorced as soon as 61 days after the petition was filed. You or your attorney must prepare a final decree of divorce that spells out the details of the property division; where the children will live; how often the other parent may visit; and how much child support will be paid. At least one party must go to the final hearing, either with or without an attorney. If the judge approves the final decree of divorce, she will sign it and grant the divorce.
Finalizing a Contested Divorce
If you and your spouse cannot agree on the issues, the judge can listen to the evidence and make the decisions for you. You may represent yourself at the trial or hire an attorney. After hearing both sides, the judge will decide child-related issues based on the best interests of the children. If you ask the judge to decide about the property division, debts, spousal support, and other financial issues, she can take into account other factors such as the age, health, and income of each party.