4 Basic Steps for Divorce in Texas

A marriage that is nearing its end is never a painless period in the life of a couple. It is only natural to want the process to be quicker and devoid of unnecessary stress. Knowing what the basic steps for divorce in Texas are can help you go through everything swiftly and with minimum negative feelings involved. And through it all, keep in mind what Brené Brown said - "Owning your own story and loving yourself through the process is the bravest thing that we'll ever do."

Papers and rings.
Knowing the steps will make the whole process quicker.

Although every dissolution of a marriage is different, as there are no two marriages alike, there are some basic steps to getting a divorce in Texas. There were 2.6 divorces per thousand residents in the state in 2018, and it’s a decrease from 1990 when the rate was 5.5 divorces per one thousand residents. Whatever the reason is behind the decision to call it quits, you should know how divorces work in Texas and some important information regarding the law on property and assets division, child support, custody and visitation, and other legal issues. And also, before taking any steps, you have to make sure that some requirements are met.

Before Taking Any Steps for Divorce in Texas, Let’s Talk About the Requirements

Not everyone is eligible to file for a Texas divorce. To be able to follow through with the steps to file for divorce in Texas by State Law, you must be a resident of the state for at least 6 months, and one spouse has to be residing for at least 90 days in the county where the petition will be filed. Depending on whether the spouses have agreed on major issues that include the division of property, child custody, support, visitation, and spousal support, they may be eligible to file for an uncontested dissolution. This means they will be able to file for a divorce online, to save both time and money.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in Texas?

The whole process, even if you file for divorce online by obtaining online divorce papers, must have a waiting period of 60 days before finalizing. However, the answer to the question How long does a divorce take will depend on whether it will need to go through a trial or not. In this case, it may take over a year to finalize. And if you’re wondering how long do you have to be separated before you can file for divorce in Texas, the answer is that there are no divorce rules in Texas that require separation. Now, let’s see what are the steps of a divorce in Texas.

Two people with papers.
How long will the dissolution take depends on the couple’s ability to agree on crucial points.

1st Step - Filing a Form for the Dissolution of Marriage

If you’re wondering how to file for divorce after you made sure the requirements are met, you need to follow the steps for filing for divorce in Texas. The first step is when one spouse, who is in this case named the Petitioner, files the petition with the family court called the “Original Petition”. This is accompanied by a fee, and it starts the divorce process. The court clerk then assigns it a case number.

Signing documents.
The Petitioner files for a dissolution.

2nd Step - Serve the Legal Notice and Choose an Attorney if Needed

After the Petitioner has filed the papers in the first step, the second step is when the other spouse, called the Respondent, is provided with a legal notice. That means that the Responder is either served, or they have signed a Waiver of Service if they have already agreed to receive the notice. Keep in mind that the Waiver does not mean that the Respondent has agreed to allegations mentioned in the Original Petition that has been filed. After this step, the process can go in two ways.

The Next Stage Is to Try to Come to an Agreement and Have an Uncontested Dissolution

The quickest way towards ending a marriage and getting the Divorce Decree from the family court is when spouses agree on every major legal issue, which includes:

In this case, they are eligible for an uncontested dissolution of marriage, and filing for divorce online will be a more affordable and quicker option, which also means that you can get divorced without an attorney. Your decree will be signed by the judge unless the terms of the case agreement are unfair to one spouse, or it seems that one spouse was being forced. It is wise to have an attorney look at the agreement before presenting it to the judge. An attorney should be able to ensure whether it complies with the Texas divorce law and its requirements.

A Contested Process Will Require a Lawyer on the Case

Contested divorces happen when there’s at least one issue spouses can’t agree upon, whether it is the division of property and all assets, and other major issues, including child support, custody, and visitation rights. One solution can be dissolution mediation, where they will exchange information and work towards an agreement. If they don’t settle the issues in this stage, they will go to a trial, which is a complex and long process. It will be essential to hire an attorney at this stage, and the final decision will be made by the judge. This takes more time and money than uncontested divorces, and in this case, they won’t be able to go through with an online divorce in Texas.

A gavel.
Whether the case goes to trial depends on the agreement on every issue.

3rd Step - The Hearing

This step won’t be necessary for one spouse to attend if the spouses have come to a prior agreement on all legal issues in no-fault divorces. There will be at least one hearing before the judge makes a final decision on every major issue, including financial matters such as the division of property and assets, child support, custody and visitation, and other legal issues based on the State Law. This step is where both parties present evidence and information on their behalf to the family court.

A couple before a judge.
The hearing means that the process is nearing the end.

4th Step - the Final Decree

Whether going through an uncontested Texas divorce online, or a contested one with the help of an attorney, the marriage officially ends when the judge signs the papers, and the Law requires that it can’t be before 60 days after the filing to the family court. The final orders and decree are signed and this is the final step. After this, if one spouse wants to remarry, the State Law prescribes a waiting period of 30 days after the finalization of the dissolution to be free to enter a marriage.