If you have reached the end of your marriage and are considering divorce, you are probably wondering what the process will look like. Preparing as much as you can by looking at the divorce laws, understanding how the filing process works, and knowing what to expect can give you peace of mind.
Below, we’ll go over a broad overview of the Texas divorce process.
Step 1: Filing for Divorce
The divorce process starts with filing a document entitled Original Petition for Divorce with a court in the county where one of you resides. The party who files the divorce is called the petitioner, and the other party is the respondent (unless the parties choose to file together as joint petitioners). If you and your spouse have lived in the state of Texas for at least six months before your divorce, then you can file your petition for divorce at your local county courthouse. You must live in that county at least 90 days before your divorce.
In Texas, you do not need a reason for your divorce or have to prove that your spouse did anything wrong to file. This is called a no-fault divorce, and you can simply state that you and your spouse’s personalities are insupportable. Texas law also allows for fault-based divorces, such as adultery or cruelty.
Step 2: Giving Legal Notice
You can file for a divorce without your spouse’s approval, but you must inform your spouse that you did so through an official process. Telling your spouse that you’ve filed is sufficient if they hire an attorney or file a legal response. Service on your spousemust be done by a third party, such as a law enforcement officer, or licensed private process server. Once the respondent is served, they have the opportunity to file a response.
Step 3A: Uncontested Divorce
If your spouse agrees, you two can work together to handle the divorce details, which may include custody, maintenance, property division, and/or child support. This is the most amicable way to end your marriage and is known as an uncontested divorce and can be finalized without a trial. Once an agreement has been drafted, a judge then approves the agreement and finalizes the divorce.
It is wise to have an attorney review your agreement before filing it in order to make sure you are filing a complete and comprehensive document. Our team can ensure that your final decree complies with Texas’ requirements while addressing any details that you may not have covered.
Step 3B: Contested Divorce
Although uncontested divorces have many benefits, it can be quite difficult for couples to achieve. If you and your spouse disagree on how to handle the divorce, we recommend trying a method of alternative dispute resolution, like collaborative divorce or mediation, to resolve their differences. Both paths strive to settle the divorce in a less adversarial way.
However, if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, you will have to pursue the divorce in court using litigation. A judge will listen to your case and determine an equitable arrangement on their behalf, a divorce decree will be drafted, and then the Judge will sign and finalize. The trial process can be lengthy, complex, and costly. Having an attorney is not only recommended but crucial to ensure that your best interests are protected.
Step 4: Finalizing the Divorce
Once all the details have been agreed upon, whether uncontested or contested, your divorce will officially be dissolved once the divorcing parties and judge sign the final divorce decree. Keep in mind that there is a 60-day waiting period that you’ll need to go through before a judge can grant your divorce, but the process typically takes anywhere from 3 to 12 months.
Your Priorities, Protected
When you go through something as difficult as divorce, it can be easy to feel lost and overwhelmed by all of the steps. At Hance Law Group, we have one goal in mind: protect our clients’ priorities. Whether you require an uncontested divorce, mediation, litigation, or a collaborative divorce, our team will be there to advocate for your rights and ensure that you confidently navigate the divorce process.
To schedule a consultation with our Dallas divorce attorneys, contact us online or via phone at (469) 378-5467.