When it comes to divorce, the only way out is through. Divorce is a complicated process, both legally and emotionally. It can be difficult to make the decision to dissolve a marriage and life that you have invested so much in building. That is why it is good to have all the facts before you make a decision. While getting divorced in Texas can seem daunting and even overwhelming, it is really just a series of small steps and decisions. When navigated by an experienced divorce attorney, you will find that it can be much easier to get through. You are able to leave the strategizing and advocating to your attorney while you focus on putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward in life. The information in this article is intended to be general. However, if you have specific questions or would like personalized feedback based on your individual case, you are welcome to contact Covington Law Firm to schedule a consultation.
Can I File for Divorce in Texas?
This is an important threshold question that people sometimes do not know about until they are arguing it in court. In order to file for divorce in Texas, there is a residency requirement that must be met. In order to meet the residency requirement, you and/or your spouse must have lived in Texas for at least six months, and in the county in Texas in which you filed for divorce for at least three months.
What is the Difference Between a Fault and No-Fault Divorce?
Texas is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you do not have to declare one spouse at fault in order to request a divorce. However, you still have the option to do so if you wish. If you choose to declare a fault-based ground for the divorce, such as abandonment or adultery, it may extend the cost and time required for the divorce trial, as the court will then have to spend time determining whether the alleged basis of fault is valid (i.e. did he cheat?) before moving on to all of the proceedings required to actually dissolve the marriage. On the other hand, if you move forward on no-fault grounds, you are both announcing to the court that your marriage is irretrievably broken and skipping the part where the court gets to weigh in on whether it is really broken, instead moving straight to the dissolution of marital assets.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Get Divorced?
You are not legally required to have a lawyer in order to get divorced, however, most people find that having one is highly beneficial, and in many cases, necessary to effect a positive outcome. This is particularly true if your divorce is contested. In an uncontested divorce, all issues have already been decided between spouses and the court must only approve or deny their proposed agreement. As you can imagine, this really speeds up and streamlines the process. If you and your spouse are able to come to agreement on all necessary issues, you may not need a lawyer to proceed, however, many couples still find that navigating an uncontested divorce can be difficult due to all the paperwork and legal requirements. Making even a small mistake can cause significant setbacks in court. In short, it is always preferable to have legal representation if you can, but for a contested divorce, it should be strongly considered.
How Long Will My Divorce Take?
In Texas, there is a 60-day waiting period after you file for divorce, meaning that any divorce will take an absolute minimum of 60 days. There are some exceptions if you are divorcing someone who has been convicted of family violence, but in most cases, divorce will take a minimum of two months. Beyond that, how long the divorce will take depends in large part on whether it is contested or uncontested. An Uncontested divorce may be resolved in as little as two or three months, while a contested divorce may take a year or more depending on how many issues have to be adjudicated. Most divorces in Texas are resolved within 6-8 months.
Can We Avoid Going to Court?
Unfortunately, in Texas, there is an antiquated rule that requires at least one spouse from a divorcing couple to appear in court and provide some basic testimony. Since COVID-19, the Courts are allowing testimony to prove up an agreed divorce by affidavit. We have yet to learn whether this will be a permanent change.
Does Divorce Have to be Expensive?
We have all heard horror stories about expensive divorces, but ultimately, every divorce is different. Uncontested divorces tend to be far more cost effective than contested divorces, so the more you and your spouse are able to stay focused on your desired outcomes and work together toward resolutions, the more likely you are to cut down on costs.
What if I Live in Texas but My Spouse is Deployed?
If you live in Texas but your spouse is deployed abroad with the military, you will be able to serve them with divorce papers, but there are protections in place that keep the divorce from moving forward without them while they are still overseas. For some people, it is still worthwhile to take the step of serving their spouse with divorce papers while they are deployed, even if the divorce will not actually move forward until they return. However, that is a possibility that you will have to weigh against the effort and cost of serving someone with legal papers in a foreign country (and particularly in a dangerous or inaccessible part of it).
How Does Having Shared Children Affect My Divorce?
Having shared children can of course complicate divorce proceedings. To the extent that you and your spouse are able to come to a decision about visitation, custody, and child support, it will be greatly helpful in streamlining the effectiveness of the trial. If you and your spouse together create a proposed visitation agreement (which can be with or without the help or attorneys) the court must simply assess it to ensure that it is in the best interest of the child before approving it. If you are unable to come to a mutual decision with your spouse, you will each have to present a vitiation proposal to the court and the judge will make a determination as to what arrangement would be in the best interest of the child.
What if My Spouse Does Not Want a Divorce?
If your spouse does not want a divorce and will not cooperate with the process it can be very frustrating, but it does not mean game over. Rather, they actually do not have as much power to halt a divorce as they think they do. The divorce can proceed as a contested divorce if they elect not to participate. Depending on your circumstances, there may be other options available as well.
How Can I Prepare for a Divorce?
If you are considering divorce but are not quite ready to file, there is still a lot that you can do to get ready in the interim. For instance, you can get all of your financial records in order. This may require working with an accounting professional. It is important to get an accounting of all current marital assets and debts, as well as a clear understanding of how much money you will need to live on and support any shared children after you are divorced.
Talk to a Texas Family Law and Divorce Attorney
If you are considering filing for divorce in Texas, you do not have to navigate the process alone. Talk to Vonda Covington, an experienced Texas family law and divorce attorney, to learn about your options and determine the best path forward for you and your family. Contact Covington Law Firm today to schedule your consultation.