Time Period for Contesting a Final Divorce Decree in Texas

By Beverly Bird

Divorce is often a controversial process. It’s not uncommon for a spouse to agree to terms, then realize he made a bad deal. Sometimes, a judge makes an erroneous or unfair decision following the trial. When any of these things happen, Texas offers several ways in which you can contest the divorce. The statutes of limitation vary depending on whether you were divorced by trial, agreement or default.

Vacating Default

The divorce process in Texas begins when you or your spouse files a petition for divorce. If your spouse files, she will serve you with a copy of the petition. The paperwork will include a citation, telling you that you have 20 days to respond. Technically, this time period ends at noon on the first Monday after the 20 days have expired. If you don’t respond, your spouse can ask for a default judgment against you 60 days after the date she filed the petition. The court will schedule a default hearing. Thirty days after the hearing, the judge will sign a decree, most likely giving your spouse everything she requested in her petition. You have 30 days from the date of the hearing to object to the signing of the decree, ask the court to vacate, or reopen, the default judgment and request permission to contest the divorce terms.

Marital Settlement Agreement

Texas’s 60-day waiting period applies to all divorce procedures. Even if you file a response to your spouse’s petition within 20 days, you must wait two months to finalize your divorce. Many spouses use this time period to negotiate a divorce settlement. If you reach an agreement with your spouse, you or your lawyer can submit it to the court and a judge will sign off on your divorce after 60 days. If you realize during this time period that you’re not comfortable with the terms to which you agreed, contact your attorney or the court immediately. As long as the agreement you signed does not state specifically in bold, underlined letters that the settlement agreement is irrevocable, you can request that the court throw the agreement out and schedule a trial instead after the 60 days expires. When you receive a trial date, you can contest the divorce.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Court-Issued Decree

If you miss the 30-day deadline for vacating a default decree, you can request a new trial within 30 days after the judge signs the decree. If you go to trial and the terms of the judge’s decree overlook a point of law or a piece of evidence, you can file an appeal. You have 20 days after the judge signs the decree to do this. If you requested a trial by jury and you suspect jury tampering or error, or if new evidence has come to light since the court issued the decree, you can also request a new trial. The same 30-day rule applies in this situation, just as if you wanted to request a new trial after a default decree.


The terms of a divorce decree pertaining to property usually cannot be changed or contested after the statutes of limitation expire for a new trial or an appeal. However, issues such as custody, child support and alimony can be changed at any time if you suffer a change of circumstance that makes the decree’s terms inappropriate. There is generally no deadline after a judge signs a decree to file a motion for modification of these issues.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to File a Motion for a New Pendente Lite Hearing for a Divorce


Related articles

The Time Frame to Adjudicate Divorce Default in New York

A default divorce occurs when the defendant receives notice that his spouse has filed for divorce and he does nothing about it. If your spouse doesn’t officially defend against your divorce complaint, either by objecting to its grounds or to your requests for custody, support and property distribution, New York law allows you to proceed with the divorce anyway by filing for default. If you act promptly to submit all your required paperwork, you can conceivably complete the entire default divorce process within three months.

How to Appeal a Child Custody Decision in Dallas, Texas

Child custody cases can be highly contentious and emotional, and an unfavorable ruling can be devastating. Texas law allows parents to appeal custody rulings, but the appeals process can be lengthy and difficult. If you are not already represented by an attorney, you will have a much greater chance of success if you hire a family law attorney who specializes in custody appeals. Appeals in Dallas are heard through the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals.

How to Amend Divorce Papers

No matter how well-drafted and accurate your divorce papers are when you file them, you may subsequently need to amend them. Perhaps your circumstances have changed significantly or you discovered more information relevant to your divorce. If so, you may be able to amend, or change, your divorce papers before the court issues your divorce decree.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

What Happens in Texas if a Petitioner Refuses to Follow the Divorce Decree for Property Settlement?

In Texas, as in most states, divorce decrees can reflect a settlement agreement between spouses or terms ordered by a ...

How to Contest an Uncontested Divorce in Mississippi

When spouses not only agree to be divorced, but also on the reason for the divorce and terms of the divorce, they can ...

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take?

Uncontested divorce is an often misunderstood concept of law. By definition, it simply means that you and your spouse ...

What Happens in Minnesota If a Divorce Becomes Defaulted?

In Minnesota, a divorce defaults when one spouse refuses or neglects to become legally involved in the process. If he ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED