It is normal to experience a certain level of discomfort if you are facing divorce. The fear of the unknown, like most cases, has a tendency to stir anxiety in many people. The good news is that the general divorce procedure in Texas is the same, whether you have been married for 3 months or 30 years. To help you understand what to expect, here is a brief overview of the divorce process in Texas.
One or both spouses must have been a Texas resident for the last 6 months or more leading to the divorce, and should not have left the county in which they are filing the petition within the last 90 days. Even one spouse is not a Texas resident, the last marital residence of the couple should be in Texas for the court to assume personal jurisdiction over the divorce. However, the non-resident spouse is allowed to file for divorce in their current county.
In the event that the wife is pregnant, the divorce may have to be stalled until the baby is born. In most cases, the judge will not allow the divorce to continue during pregnancy, even if the husband is not the father. This is because the child has to be included in the final agreement of the divorce.
The petitioner (spouse filing for divorce) must file the petition with the local court and give legal notice to the other spouse (aka the respondent). The respondent has 21 days to file an Answer after receiving the notice, otherwise, the petitioner may be awarded a default judgment. Usually, there is a waiting period of 60 days before a final judgment can be made, but the court can disregard this if the respondent is shown to have a history of domestic violence.
If the couple agrees on most of the issues regarding the divorce, they may decide to proceed with the separation without the court’s intervention. This collaborative divorce requires the parties and their attorneys to put in writing their commitment to finalize the divorce as seamlessly as possible. The court will only come into play when approving the settlement agreement and signing the necessary legal orders concerning the divorce. If the couple is unable to reach a settlement, their respective counsel must withdraw from the case to make way for a court proceeding.
It is a common practice for people to take the last name of their spouses upon marriage. During a divorce, however, some may request for their name to be reverted to the one they used before the marriage. The court may approve this request in a decree of divorce unless there is a specific reason for rejecting the name change.
Legal Grounds for Divorce in Texas
The court may grant a divorce on the following grounds:
- Cruelty from one spouse, making it extremely difficult to live together
- Conflict of personalities, which makes it virtually impossible to sustain a healthy marriage
- One spouse is charged with a felony and imprisoned for one year or more in a federal penitentiary (unless the conviction was based on the other spouse’s testimony)
- The couple has lived apart for at least 3 years without cohabitation
- One spouse abandons the other spouse for at least one year
- One of the spouses has been confined in a mental institution for at least 3 years at the time of filing for divorce and is not likely to readjust or readjustment would probably be followed by a relapse.
Whether or not you decide to use the court system in your divorce, getting a family law attorney will go a long way toward ensuring a smooth separation. If your upcoming divorce is plaguing your mind, attorney Bobby Barina can help you understand what your options are. Get in touch today.