The decision to end your marriage by filing for divorce is one of the most stressful and challenging actions you may ever have to make. You know it’s the right thing to do, but the concept can be so overwhelming that you don’t know where to begin.
Every state has its own divorce laws, so to avoid unpleasant surprises or mistakes that can jeopardize your case, it is important to understand the guidelines and requirements for the divorce process in Texas.
Grounds for Divorce in Texas
Texas is a no-fault state, meaning that it is not necessary for you to prove your spouse did something wrong in order to end your marriage. You can get a divorce simply by proving “insupportability,” which means marital discord exists and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation. However, you can still assign fault if one exists. Below are the grounds for divorce that state law recognizes:
- Physical and / or mental cruelty
- Your spouse has been incarcerated at least one year for a felony offense
- Living apart for at least three years
- Your spouse has been confined in a psychiatric institution for at least three years
To file for divorce in Texas, you or your spouse must have:
- lived in the state for the previous six months
- resided in the county where the divorce action was filed for at least 90 days prior to filing
Military personnel who did not previously live in Texas, but were stationed at one or more military bases in the state for at least six months (as well as stationed in the county of filing for at least 90 days beforehand) are considered to be Texas residents for the purposes of filing for divorce.
Dividing Marital Assets
Texas is a community property state, meaning that the courts assume that all property acquired or earned by both parties during the marriage is owned on a 50-50 basis. Property that you or your spouse obtained or received prior to getting married or was given to you as an inheritance while married is generally considered separate property and not subject to division.
When it comes to property division, there are two things to bear in mind:
- Judges have the discretion to divide assets in “unequal” ways.
- They may take fault into consideration when deciding how to divide everything fairly.
- Texas does not recognize legal separation, so even if you and your spouse are living apart, anything you acquire up until divorce can be counted as marital property.
The Length of the Divorce Process
A divorce cannot be granted in Texas until the original petition has been on file with the court for at least 60 days. If you and your spouse are in agreement on all issues, the divorce may be granted on the 61st day after filing. If a lot of contention exists, the process can take much longer. To minimize wait times, be flexible within reason, but do not surrender anything that is rightfully yours to get your freedom more quickly.
Done correctly, divorce represents a new beginning and the chance for a happier, more fulfilled future. If you’re considering a Texas divorce and need the guidance and support of an experienced and compassionate divorce attorney, contact us today.