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Divorce in Texas: 5 Common Questions Answered by a Board Certified Family Law Specialist

Two broken golden wedding rings divorce

Divorce is a significant life event filled with uncertainties and questions.

In Texas, the process involves unique legal considerations, making it essential to seek guidance from an experienced family lawyer.

At Coker, Robb & Cannon, we get asked questions from our family law clients in Denton, Collin and Tarrant counties every day. Here are five of the most common questions individuals contemplating divorce in Texas might have as they navigate this challenging time.

1. How do I file for divorce in Texas?

Filing for divorce in Texas starts with submitting a "Petition for Divorce" to the local district court. You must have been a resident of the state for at least six months and a resident of the county where you're filing for the last 90 days.

Texas allows for both fault and no-fault divorces. In a no-fault divorce, you do not need to prove your spouse did something wrong but rather that the marriage is insupportable due to discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation. Basically, this means that the reasons you got married no longer exist or, even if they do, other problems in the marriage outweigh those reasons.

2. What are the grounds for divorce in Texas?

As briefly discussed above, Texas recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce.

No-fault grounds mean that neither party is necessarily to blame for the dissolution of the marriage, typically filed under the "insupportability" grounds defined above.

Fault grounds for divorce in Texas can include, among other things, adultery, cruelty, felony conviction, abandonment, living apart for at least three years, or confinement in a mental hospital.

Choosing whether to file for a fault or no-fault divorce can significantly impact the division of assets, child custody, and spousal support and, if you are uncertain about options regarding grounds for divorce, you should have an in-depth conversation with a Texas Family Lawyer before you decide how to proceed.

3. How is property divided in a Texas divorce?

Texas is a community property state, meaning that generally all assets and debts acquired during the marriage, except those assets acquired by gift or inheritance, are considered jointly owned and will be divided equitably upon divorce.

It's important to note that "equitably" does not necessarily mean "equally." The court considers several factors, including each spouse's earning capacity, fault in the marriage's breakup, and each party's health, among other factors, to determine a fair distribution of assets.

If you think there may be reasons you should receive a disproportionate share of the assets in a divorce, you need to discuss those with your divorce attorney.

Separate property, which includes assets owned before marriage, and inheritance and gifts received during marriage, generally remains with the original owner.

4. What about child-related provisions?

In Texas, child custody and parenting time is also referred to as conservatorship and possession.

The courts prefer arrangements that allow the child to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents, who share the rights and duties of raising the child. The best interest of the child is the primary consideration, with factors including the child's physical and emotional needs, the stability of each parent's home environment, and any history of family violence being considered.

Conservatorship arrangements can be joint (where both parents share rights and duties) or sole (where one parent has the primary right to decide concerning the child), though it is very rare to have sole managing conservatorship in Texas.

5. How long does a divorce take in Texas?

The duration of a divorce in Texas can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the case and whether it's contested.

At a minimum, Texas law requires a 60-day waiting period from the date the divorce petition is filed before a divorce can be finalized.

Contested divorces, where spouses cannot agree on key issues like property division, child custody, or support, can take several months to more than a year. Uncontested divorces, where both parties agree on all major issues, can be quicker but still must observe the 60-day waiting period.

Divorce is a complex legal process that can profoundly impact your life and family. Seeking the advice of a knowledgeable Texas family lawyer can provide you with the guidance needed to navigate the divorce process as smoothly as possible.

Remember, every divorce is unique, and the answers provided here are general in nature. For advice tailored to your specific situation, consulting with a legal professional is always the best course of action. Our family lawyers at Coker, Robb & Cannon are available for consultations – often as quickly as same day or next day – regarding any issues related to your Texas Divorce or other family law matter.

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