Divorce is never an easy process, but knowing the requirements and rules in the state you’re resident in can at least prepare you for what you’ll need to do or the actions you’ll be required to take. The procedure for divorce can vary widely, according to state; here, we explore how Texas ranks in terms of how easy or difficult it is to get a divorce if you live here.
Filing for Divorce
To file for a divorce in Texas, there are several forms that you will be required to complete: these forms will largely depend on your circumstances, but in most cases, you’ll need to fill in and file an Original Petition for Divorce, a Civil Case Information Sheet, Information on Suit Affecting Relationship and Standard Possession Order.
The filing fees in Texas are among some of the highest in the US: the minimum you can expect to pay is $262-$365, and the average attorney fees for an attorney in this state are $12,000. To file for divorce, either you or your ex-partner must be resident in the state of Texas. Have a look here for more information on the best states for divorce, how the various states compare in terms of court costs, timescales, and how easy the process is overall.
Serving the Papers
Whether or not the divorce has been discussed with your spouse or not, they must be formally served the papers in order for the divorce proceedings to go ahead. This can be done in a variety of ways: you can serve these papers to your spouse personally if the divorce is uncontested and your spouse is prepared to sign a Waiver or an Answer.
Papers can otherwise be served by a constable, sheriff, or other individual appointed by the court or by the process server via certified mail or in person.
Once the papers are served, there is a sixty-day cooling-off period in Texas; it is only after this time has passed that a hearing date for the case can be arranged. Unlike some other states, the divorce courts don’t require a waiting period to expire before the papers are served.
Disclosure and Discovery
After the papers have been served and the cooling-off period has passed comes a process of disclosure by both parties. This is where all information needed for or pertinent to the case must be made available; this could include testimonials and medical records. Financial information will also need to be provided, including income, liabilities, and assets.
In Texas, the discovery period of a divorce case is a key stage of the proceedings and comes before the trial itself. This part of the process enables each party to obtain the information and evidence from the other.
Divorce Settlement Agreements
If you and your spouse can draw up an agreement, even if you only manage to reach an accord regarding some aspects of the divorce, this is likely to speed up the process and save you both in court costs and time. This document should cover the division of all assets, child custody, child support and visitation details, and spousal support arrangements, as well as anything else that either you or your spouse wish to be covered.
In Texas, unless you and your spouse have come to an alternative agreement, a 50/50 split of all marital assets is the norm in terms of what is granted in a divorce case.
The Divorce Hearing
The divorce hearing will culminate in a judge making a final decision on your case, and, usually, both you and your ex-partner will need to be present at the hearing to answer any questions that the judge may have.
The nature of the hearing, and the length of time it takes, will be largely dependent on whether you and your spouse have been able to draw up a Divorce Settlement Agreement prior to the court proceedings and the complexity of the case.
If the case is contested, then there may follow a process of witnesses being called and evidence being given by the lawyers acting for each party.
Finalizing the Divorce
Once the judge has made a final decision, signed the Final Decree, and this has been filed with the clerk, then your divorce is official, and the process has been completed. Depending on the nature of the Decree, you or your ex-spouse may need to arrange for the transfer of property rights and the dividing of finances, and your lawyer will be able to assist you with this if required.
How Texas Compares For Divorce
Texas ranks as one of the most expensive states in which to get a divorce and also has a significant cooling-off period once the papers are served before the case can progress to a hearing. However, every state is different in terms of the divorce process, and there are pros and cons regarding getting divorced in each of them. It’s important to fully research the divorce mechanism in your state so that you can both plan and prepare for the process to come.