I Need a Divorce...
So, what is the procedure?
The divorce seeking spouse, called the Petitioner, files a Petition for Divorce with the local family court. To be effective, that petition will be served upon the other spouse, called the Respondent.
Shortly thereafter, the parties will start exchanging documents to establish the financial situation of the community and to identify separate property. Often subsequent to a hearing, the court will order the parties to negotiate the terms of a Temporary Orders. The Temporary Orders will provide orientation to all important issues such as child support, child custody, residences of the parties, spousal support, payments of attorney fees, health insurance coverage etc. Because the Temporary Orders are often very similar or even identical to the final divorce degree, in contested divorces the parties will spend significant time fighting for the best terms possible.
In contested cases, the parties will engage in discovery and exchange information and documents. Because discovery helps to clarify evidentiary issues, discovery is often the time when the parties become willing to settle their case. In that case, an Agreed Decree of Divorce will be prepared.
Before trial, the parties are required to attempt to mediate their outstanding issues. If mediation fails and the spouses are still not able to agree on all of the issues in the case, pretrial and trial dates will be set to force the parties to resolve their issue with a decision by the court. The court or a jury will then sign the Final Decree of Divorce, which concludes the divorce proceedings.
Texas Divorce Laws - Frequently Asked Questions(click to expand)
The petition alleges "insupportability," which is defined as discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
Divorces in Texas do not require fault. Courts may, however, take traditional fault reasons such as adultery, cruelty, abandonment, long-term incarceration into consideration when dividing the couple's property.
To file for a divorce in Texas, one of the spouses has to have been a resident of the state for a continuous six-month period. In addition, one of the spouses must have been a resident of the county where the divorce is filed for at least 90 days.
Temporary orders allow the parties to get agreed upon or court-ordered “rules” governing various aspects of the domestic arena, including child conservatorship, possession and access, child support, property division, spousal support and various other items.
Texas does not have separation agreements. Instead the state has temporary orders. Upon agreement of the parties or upon order of the court, the possession and access/support terms from the temporary orders can be included in the final decree of divorce.
In Texas, a divorce cannot be final for at least 60 days after the petition is filed. The divorce is final as soon as the judge pronounces it so in open court and signs the decree of divorce. If the spouses are not in agreement, it typically takes about six months to one year or longer to finalize a divorce, depending on the complexity of the issues and the degree of conflict.
Premarital & Postmarital Agreements
A prenuptial agreement allows parties contemplating marriage to decide in advance how their property will be divided in the event of a separation or divorce.
Premarital agreements are common when one spouse’s assets are disproportionately higher than the other. By contrast, postnuptial agreements are pursued after the commencement of a marriage.