How to File for Divorce in Texas?

Where You Need a Lawyer:

(This may not be the same place you live)

At No Cost! 

 What Are the Steps for a Divorce in Texas?

The steps for obtaining a divorce in Texas include the following:

  1. A petitioner, who is one of the spouses, files for divorce by submitting an Original Petition for Divorce, which includes the grounds for divorce, to the county court;
  2. The petitioning spouse has the responding spouse personally served with the formal divorce papers;
    • The responding spouse may opt to sign a waiver to avoid receiving the papers;
  3. The petitioner can request any temporary orders like a Temporary Restraining Order if this is needed, for example, if there are abuse issues involved and one spouse needs protection from another;
    • A hearing will be held on the temporary orders;
  4. The spouses may discuss the divorce terms directly or with the assistance of a mediator or attorney;
    • If they have an agreed divorce, an Agreed Decree of Divorce can be prepared and filed;
  5. Spouses who are unable to agree on the divorce terms can set a trial date with the court;
  6. Before the divorce trial, spouses will attend court mediation;
    • This can help to resolve various issues apart from the formal court process;
    • This can also help save time and resources in court overall; and
  7. If mediation does not work for the parties, a court will decide the terms before issuing a Final Decree of Divorce.

An Agreed Decree of Divorce is a collaborative divorce in which both spouses agree to the divorce terms without going to court. Both parties must agree in good faith for it to be valid.

This type of agreement can assist the parties with saving time and money that would otherwise be used in the court system. If an individual has any questions regarding the steps for a divorce or whether it matters who files first for divorce, they should consult with a local Texas attorney.

What Documents Do I Need to File for Divorce?

An individual will need to prepare numerous different types of documents and information to prepare for their divorce claim or lawsuit. Many of these documents may be evidence during a trial if the opposing party contests the issues.

Issues that are typically heavily contested during the process of divorce include:

  • Property distribution;
  • Listing of assets;
  • Child-related expenses.

An individual should gather information in the following categories:

  • Personal information, including:
    • Birth certificates;
    • Social Security cards and documents;
    • Documents involving immigration or naturalization, if applicable;
    • Court judgments, certificates, or decrees from proceedings that involve a previous spouse;
    • Any separation agreements between the individual and their current spouse;
    • Any pre-or post-nuptial agreements; and
    • Proof of the jurisdiction of the court over the current divorce claim;
  • Property documents and financial records, including:
    • Income tax returns, federal, state, and local for the past three to five years;
    • Employment records, especially:
      • Pay stubs;
      • Wage statements;
      • Overtime; and
      • Bonus pay;
    • Retirement and pension plans, such as:
      • Individual retirement account (IRA) files; and
      • Annuities;
    • Property-related documents, including:
      • Real estate contracts;
      • Leases;
      • Deeds; and
      • Other property certificates;
    • Documents recording debt, such as:
      • Loan statements;
      • Credit card debt; and
      • Mortgages;
    • Bank information, such as:
      • Savings and checking account amounts;
      • Checkbook records; and
      • Deposit slips;
      • Showing of basic expenses for:
        • Clothing;
        • Housing;
        • Utilities;
        • Rent;
        • Food;
        • Repairs;
        • Gas; and
        • Child-rearing costs;
    • An individual may also wish to check to see if their state follows community property rules;
  • Information regarding children, including:
    • Birth and medical information of any children involved in the process;
    • Records of child-rearing expenses and duties;
    • Immigration or naturalization documents of any children, if applicable; and
    • Photographs, videos, and tape recordings of the party and their child or children;
  • Business-related information, including:
    • Tax information of the business;
    • Profits and losses statements for the business;
    • Books kept by the business, including:
      • Balance sheets;
      • Financial statements;
      • Insurance policies; and
      • Any other books kept by the business;
    • Securities information, such as stocks, shareholder agreements, and corporate minutes; and
    • Documentation of assets, including property, that are held by the business.

It may take some time to compile all the information required for a divorce filing. Each case is unique; some may require less documentation, while others require more.

How Much Does Divorce Cost?

In Texas, the cost of a divorce can vary greatly, depending on the amount of issues the couple can agree on and whether or not children are involved. On average, divorce in Texas may range from $3,500 to $23,500 but may be more or less depending on the circumstances of the case.

How Long Does It Take To File for Divorce?

In Texas, divorce typically takes longer than 60 days after the petition is filed to be finalized. Every divorce in Texas has a 60-day waiting period that must expire before a judge will sign any divorce decree.

If the spouses involved agree on all of the issues in the divorce beforehand, they will have their divorce finalized in approximately six months to one year. However, Getting a divorce will take longer if the spouses cannot agree on all the issues involved.

How Is Marital Property Divided in Texas?

Texas is a community property state. This means that the court does not necessarily divide the property in half but, instead, considers factors such as:

  • Education and earning capacities;
  • Who will have custody of the children;
  • Fault, if it is an issue in the case.

One spouse may have acquired property prior to the marriage or as an inheritance or a gift during the marriage. If that is the case, it will be considered separate property and will be awarded to the spouse whose property it is. In Texas, a settlement received in a personal injury lawsuit is considered separate property.

In addition, if community funds were used to make property improvements on separate property, the spouse who does not own the property may request reimbursement. If the spouses do not agree on the status of certain property as either separate or marital, then there has to be a trial of the issue.

What Should I Do if Children Are Involved?

When determining custody issues, the court will consider the best interest of the child and presume that joint legal custody is best. However, this is unless there is a trial and one spouse makes a case for a different outcome. When determining which parent should have primary physical custody, the court will examine many factors. This includes the overall welfare of the child and whether there is any history of abuse by one spouse.

If appropriate, the personal preferences of the child may also be considered, especially when the child is older. When determining child support issues, the court will consider the number of children as well as the total monthly resources of the parent who will be paying the support. The court will also consider the resources of the parent who will be receiving the support.

Do I Have to Pay Alimony?

In Texas, alimony, or spousal maintenance, is not automatic. The spouse who is seeking spousal maintenance must show that they are unable to provide for their own minimum reasonable needs. There are also limits on the amount of alimony a court can award.

In Texas, there are laws that address the duration of spousal maintenance, which require that courts adhere to guidelines when determining the duration of spousal maintenance awards. In certain cases, such as mental or physical disability, parenting duties of a custodial parent of a minor child, or any other compelling reason, spousal maintenance may continue indefinitely, provided the conditions that justify it continue to exist.

Texas laws limit all other spousal maintenance awards to the following periods of time:

  • Spousal maintenance would continue for five years if the marriage lasted for less than 10 years and the paying spouse has been convicted of family violence;
  • Spousal maintenance would continue for five years if the marriage lasted for more than 10 but less than 20 years;
  • Spousal maintenance lasts for seven years if the marriage lasted for more than 20 but less than 30 years;
  • Spousal maintenance lasts for 10 years if the marriage lasted for 30 or more years.

The spouse requesting support may not be the custodial parent or may not be physically or mentally disabled. If that is the case, Texas law provides that courts should order that spousal maintenance last for the shortest possible reasonable duration. Temporary support may also be ordered during the divorce proceedings if there is a significant difference in the incomes of spouses.

Texas also places caps on spousal maintenance awards. The awards may not exceed $5,000 per month or 20 percent of the supporting spouse’s average monthly income, whichever amount is less.

In most cases, monthly payment is ordered. Typically, the court will order the paying spouse’s employer to withhold the payment and forward it to the receiving spouse.

What Are Some Other Issues to Consider When Getting a Divorce in Texas?

The Texas divorce process can take longer if the spouses change their minds on issues during the process. Other issues that individuals considering a divorce in Texas should be aware of include:

  • Residency requirements: At least one of the spouses must reside in the state of Texas continuously for six months;
    • In addition, at least one spouse must live in the county where the divorce petition is filed for about 90 days before filing;
  • No-fault divorce: Texas is a no-fault divorce state. This means that a spouse does not have to blame the other spouse for ending the marriage;
    • However, one spouse can still assign fault in the divorce, which may have an effect on other issues involved in the divorce, for example, child custody or visitation rights;
    • Courts may also consider fault when deciding the property division between spouses.

Do I Need the Help of a Lawyer for My Divorce in Texas?

If you are seeking a divorce in Texas or have been served with divorce papers, it is important to consult with a Texas divorce lawyer. Your lawyer can assist you with protecting your rights during your divorce proceedings.

Divorce can be a stressful and time-consuming experience for you. However, having an attorney on your side will help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible and there are fewer issues for you to worry about.

Save Time and Money - Speak With a Lawyer Right Away

  • Buy one 30-minute consultation call or subscribe for unlimited calls
  • Subscription includes access to unlimited consultation calls at a reduced price
  • Receive quick expert feedback or review your DIY legal documents
  • Have peace of mind without a long wait or industry standard retainer
  • Get the right guidance - Schedule a call with a lawyer today!

16 people have successfully posted their cases

Find a Lawyer