Texas State Divorce Law

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Texas Divorce Laws

In order to file a Petition for Divorce in a Texas District Court, the petitioner must be a resident of the state for a minimum of 6 months, and a resident of the county of filing for 90 days.

Texas Grounds for Divorce

Both no-fault and fault-based divorces may be filed in the state of Texas, according to the needs of the petitioners.

Uncontested Divorce in Texas

There are two types of uncontested divorces in Texas:

  • Agreed Divorce, in which the respondent signs a waiver, allowing the divorce to conclude without their participation
  • Default Divorce, in which the respondent does not answer the divorce notification, allowing the divorce petition to be granted by default

Contested Divorce in Texas

If the parties in a divorce cannot agree on the terms of the divorce settlement, they must proceed to a contested divorce. This is a much more difficult and contentious process which generally requires the counsel of a divorce attorney. The parties continue to attempt negotiation, even with a mediator if possible. Nevertheless, if all else fails, the case must go to court. In addition, in fact, Texas is one of the few states that allows the couple to choose a jury trial if they desire it.

Annulment in Texas

An annulment is a legal declaration that a marriage is null and void, that it never existed. Most states grant annulments on specific grounds. Texas is unique in that it provides two classes of annulments:

A Void Texas Annulment, for a marriage, which is illegal in and of itself and only requires a legal declaration of that fact. The grounds for a Void Texas Annulment include:

  • Consanguinity, or marriage to a blood relative
  • Bigamy

A Voidable Texas Annulment, for a marriage that has the possibility of being voided or annulled, but is not illegal in and of itself. The grounds for a Voidable Texas Annulment include:

  • Marriage under the age of 14
  • Marriage under the age of 18 without parental consent
  • Under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Fraud and duress
  • Mental incapacity

No Fault Divorce in Texas

In Texas, a no-fault divorce can be granted to those who can prove that their marriage has become insupportable due to conflict and discord, and there is no hope of reconciliation.

Texas Fault Divorce

A fault-based divorce requires evidence that one of the parties caused the failure of the marriage due to one of several grounds:

  • Mental cruelty
  • Adultery
  • Felony conviction or imprisonment
  • Living separate and apart
  • Insanity leading to confinement in a state mental hospital

Texas Divorce and Child Custody

Child Custody Laws

In Texas, parents are encouraged to reach an agreement about the custody of any children in a divorce, put that agreement into writing, and submit it to the court. If the court approves, that agreement will be ordered. If the court believes that agreement is not in the best interests of the child, it may require another, revised agreement, or it may order custody based on what it believes to be in the child’s best interests. If the child is 12 years old or older, the court may consider their wishes.

Child Alimony

Texas courts believe that parents should take responsibility for the support and maintenance of their child, at the discretion of the court. There are official state child support guidelines that will generally be used to establish child support orders, which are generally based on several principles:

  • The child’s age and needs
  • The parents’ ability to support the child
  • The parent’s oversight and access to the child
  • The parent’s childcare expenses
  • Any other support requirements of either parent
  • The parents’ alimony payments
  • Health care provisions
  • The child’s healthcare and educational needs, including higher education
  • The parents’ employee benefits
  • The parents’ obligations

Parents in Texas use the Percent of Income Model in combination with standard Child Support Worksheets to calculate support estimates.

Texas Divorce Spousal Support

When Texas courts are required to order spousal support, they generally consider these elements:

  • The dependent parent’s resources, including property awarded in the divorce settlement, as well as the ability of the supporting spouse to meet those needs
  • The spouses’ job skills and education
  • The length of the marriage
  • The dependent spouse’s health, age, employment history, and earning ability
  • Any dissipation of marital assets
  • The contributions of one spouse to the other’s education and training during the marriage
  • The spouses’ pre-marital property
  • The homemaker’s contribution to the marriage
  • Any marital misconduct by the dependent spouse
  • The dependent spouse’s efforts to seek employment counselling

Lump Sum Alimony

Determined at the discretion of the court.

Permanent Alimony

Determined at the discretion of the court.

Temporary Spousal Support

Determined at the discretion of the court.

Rehabilitative Alimony

Determined at the discretion of the court

Military Divorce in Texas

Spouses in the military are protected by Texas law in several ways:

  • Divorce papers must be service to the recipient personally
  • If those papers cannot be served personally, the serviceperson cannot be charged with default for failing to respond to a divorce action
  • Proceedings may be postponed throughout the party’s service and up to 60 days after
  • Direct payment of retirement pay is provided to spouses married 10 years or longer
  • Child support is not to exceed 60% of serviceperson’s pay and allowances

Help From a Texas Divorce Lawyer

There are a number of complexities to Texas divorce law that are unique to that state. Anyone seeking a divorce there may need to contact a divorce attorney to help him or her understand and meet those requirements. A lawyer can also help ensure that the divorce is processing smoothly toward an appropriate settlement for their client.

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