No couple enters into a marriage thinking it will end in divorce. Unfortunately, that’s the outcome for roughly 50% of all marriages. In 2019, nearly 800,000 couples filed for divorce — many of them between January and March.
Whether because you don’t want to deal with prying family members around the holidays or you don’t want to affect your children's holiday season by announcing your divorce late in the year, many couples wait to file for divorce until the New Year.
Filing for Divorce in Texas
Divorce may be common these days, but it’s still a complex family legal issue that can have a significant impact on your and your kids’ future.
Before you file, below are a few things every couple should know:
- Be sure you’re ready to file. Unlike many other states, Texas doesn’t recognize legal separation — even if you and your spouse live apart from one another for years, your assets and debt are communal property.
- Texas law allows for “no-fault” divorce. This means the spouse filing for divorce does not have to prove any fault, wrongdoing or marital misconduct (adultery, abandonment, etc.) on the part of the other spouse.
- Make sure you meet residency restrictions. A couple filing for divorce must have lived in Texas continuously for at least six months, and one of the spouses must have lived in the United States for at least 90 days.
- Invest in an attorney. You likely know someone, if not a few people, who have gotten a divorce. But no matter how many stories you’ve heard or advice you’ve listened to, divorce is complicated and requires a deep understanding of the law and lots of paperwork. Even one small slip up can cost you in the end.
The Process of Filling
Unlike signing a marriage certificate, filing for divorce is a process that takes several steps. And if you’re undergoing a high networth or contested divorce, the whole process can take years.
Because every divorce is different, the process will be unique for everyone. However, the process traditionally goes as followed:
File the petition for divorce.
To start the divorce process, one spouse has to file a petition with the court called the “Original Petition for Divorce” and pay the court fee.
Legally notify your spouse.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to call or text your spouse and let them know you filed for divorce. Your spouse (the Respondent) must be formally served papers informing them that you (the Petitioner) have filed for divorce. Respondents can either be served or sign a waiver:
- A citation: One spouse is provided legal notice of the petition.
- A Waiver of Service: This waiver acknowledges that the Respondent is aware that the petition has been filed (it doesn’t mean they agree to what was written in the petition).
Attend a hearing.
A divorce requires a lot of communication, as you’ll now have to determine child support and custody (if you have children), and asset and debt division. If you and your spouse have an amicable relationship, you may be able to determine these matters in one or two hearings. However, a contested or high net worth divorce can require an extensive knowledge of the law in order to make sure each spouse is getting what’s fair.
Sign the divorce decree.
Once you and your partner (or you and your partner’s attorneys) have come to an agreement, it’s time to sign the final divorce decree. Though most cases take several months to go from filing the petition for divorce to signing divorce papers, Texas does have a “cooling off” period of 60 days. Certain jurisdictions also have laws and regulations on how long parties must wait to get remarried.
If you're going through a divorce, it's essential to have an attorney on your side who you can trust. Our Denton divorce lawyers deliver legal representation with honesty and integrity, and we will provide the sound advice and guidance you need.
Marsala Law Group will take the time to get to know you and learn about your circumstances. Schedule a free consultation by calling us at (940) 386-6848 or contacting us online.