Getting a divorce is a draining experience, emotionally and physically. But if you don’t know what to expect and what steps to take, things will only go from bad to worse. What’s more, not every state handles divorces the same.
Wondering what to do when you’re going through a Texas divorce? Our complete guide below will provide you with the necessary guidance.
1. No Grounds Needed
One of the biggest questions people have about divorce in Texas is whether it should be happening. In other words, were there really grounds for divorce.
Texas is actually considered a “no-fault” state when it comes to divorce. That means that someone can file for divorce without a stated reason.
Now, grounds for divorce may still play into other factors such as how community property is divvied up. But even without grounds, you or your spouse can file for divorce as soon as you have established a Texas residency and the mandatory waiting period has passed.
2. It Will Take Some Time
Just as some states offer the “quickie marriage,” other states may offer a “quickie divorce.” However, Texas is not one of these states.
Due to the state’s mandatory waiting period, you must wait a minimum of 60 days after the marriage to file for divorce. And if you recently moved to the area, the wait time will likely be longer.
This is because at least one party must be a resident of the county for at least 90 days before filing. Furthermore, at least one party must have resided in Texas for 6 months or more before filing for divorce.
In the event of newlyweds, a Texas divorce can take half a year to finalize.
3. It May Be Costly
One of the most common questions we get about divorce in Texas is whether it will be expensive or not. The only honest answer to this question is, “it depends on the couple.”
Those who have no children and haven’t been married long will have little community property. If that’s the case, and the proceedings are mostly amicable, then it may be an inexpensive divorce.
However, things like custody battles and arguments over whether a parent is fit to raise a child will lead to rising costs. The same goes for bitter arguments over who gets things like cars, houses, and so on.
If at all possible, we recommend putting away money ahead of and during the filing. Better to have more money than you need rather than less.
4. Short-Term Issues
We mentioned earlier that divorce in Texas will take a minimum of 60 days. This leads to a natural question: What do you do in the meantime?
In some cases, the couple is able to come to an agreement about who lives where, who has temporary child custody, and so on. If the couple cannot agree, the court gets involved.
If necessary, there will be a temporary orders hearing. This determines living arrangements, payment arrangements, and custody arrangements in the interim until a divorce has been finalized.
Needless to say, things will go more smoothly if the two of you can come to an agreement without the court needing to get involved.
5. Separation Is Not An Option
You’ve probably heard of being “legally separated” in other states instead of being fully divorced. For better or for worse, this is something else you don’t have to worry about in Texas.
Texas has no “legal separation” whatsoever. And in its own way, this encourages parties to file for divorce sooner rather than later.
Because you are considered married until you are divorced, any property or debt you acquire until then is part of the community property. Stretching things out over a long period of time just means there is more to potentially fight over when it comes to splitting up your possessions.
6. Do I Need An Attorney?
Along with “how much will this cost,” many people have a related question: “am I going to need an attorney?”
This comes down to how many different factors are involved. Once again, a short marriage that has no children and little community property may not require legal help. But if the case is going to be complex and deal with many factors, you’ll want a professional who understands everything and can best represent your interests.
Keep in mind that your spouse may have hired their own lawyer. In that case, it’s absolutely imperative that you get your own representation!
7. Watch What You Say Online
Ultimately, a judge will have final say over issues such as custody and property. In order to determine this, the judge may put your whole life under a microscope.
It’s possible for the court to examine things like social media posts, phone records, e-mail records, and medical records. If children are involved, the court will be extra-thorough to determine the relative fitness of each parent.
This is why you should always be careful about what you post. And don’t draft any posts or e-mails during the filings that may be used against you.
8. Is Court Mandatory?
We have focused a lot on the court, the judge, and the attorneys. But is going to the court absolutely necessary to get a Texas divorce?
If you and your spouse are in full agreement about custody and community property, then no judges or attorneys are necessary. But as soon as anyone contests any claims, it puts the ball back in the judge’s court.
9. Splitting Community Property
What is community property? It is any property that you earn over the course of the marriage. This is why divorces can get ugly: there may be a lot of things to split up.
Unlike some states, Texas does not split things evenly. Instead of a 50/50 split, the exact ratio is up to the judge.
Keep in mind that things like one spouse being at fault or behaving poorly during the proceeding may cause the judge to rule in the other spouse’s favor.
Texas Divorce: The Next Steps
Now you know how to handle a Texas divorce. But do you know who can help you come out on top?
We specialize in bankruptcy, family law, and divorce. To see how we can help you with your case, call us today!