TX Divorce Laws & Representation
Helping Families Through Tough Times in Dallas & Collin County
Every person experiences divorce differently, and the circumstances vary from case to care. At Garcia-Windsor, P.C. we can empathize with your situation and offer you experienced legal counsel and fight for what you really want. During this emotional time, it can be difficult to focus on the future. It is our job to make sure you have everything you need to make a fresh start.
Divorce Process in Texas
In order to start a divorce, you must have been a resident in Texas for at least 6 months before filing for divorce. To start, you might file a Petition for Divorce with the District Court. A judge will typically wait 60 days before making a final divorce decree.
Here are a few key aspects of the divorce process in Texas:
- Petition for Divorce – The Petitioner will be the one that initially files for divorce in the county where either spouse lives.
- Notice & Answer – The Petitioner must notify the other spouse, or the Respondent, of the filed documents. The Respondent will have 21 days to file his or her Answer.
- Appeal – There’s a 30-day period after the judge issues the final divorce decree where either spouse can file an appeal if necessary.
Contact our firm to learn more about the process of divorce in Texas.
Texas Grounds for Divorce
A final divorce decree may change if your matter involves extenuating circumstances such as domestic violence. You do not need to establish fault in Texas to get a divorce (a “no-fault” divorce). If you have grounds for a fault divorce, you may be entitled to more from your shared assets as compensation for your spouse’s mistreatment.
Some grounds for fault divorce include:
- Domestic abuse
- Verbal abuse and cruelty
- One spouse has been convicted of a felony
- Your spouse abandoned you for a year
- You have lived apart for at least 3 years
- Your spouse has been confined to a mental institution for at least 3 years
Waiting Period for a Divorce in Texas
There is a 60-day waiting period before the judge can finalize the divorce. The 60 days starts when the initial petition is filed. If the 60th day happens to fall on a weekend or holiday, then you will need to wait for the next business day. Also, when counting the days, don't count the actual day you filed the petition.
There are only two valid reasons that your 60-day wait would become waived:
- If you or your spouse has been convicted of a crime that involved family violence
- If you have a Protection Order that is valid and active for the sake of protection from your spouse
It is also important to recognize that your divorce may take longer due to the court's availability. Courts are notoriously backed up, especially in certain counties with large populations.
Can You Get Legally Separated in TX?
The state of Texas does not recognize legal separation. What this essentially means is that even if you are living apart, all of the property that is acquired during your marriage is considered community property. This includes any debt that is accumulated in that duration. Basically, you are considered married until the courts finalize your divorce.
How Does An Annulment Work in Texas?
There are also circumstances that would lead to the annulment of your marriage rather than a divorce.
Annulment vs. Divorce in Texas
A divorce ends a marriage. An annulment ends the marriage, but it also legally states that the marriage never existed. Some qualifications for annulment include:
- Marrying while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Marrying someone who didn’t inform you they were previously married
- Marriages in effect less than 72 hours
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce in Texas
There are two approaches that a couple can take when filing for divorce. They can either start an uncontested or contested divorce.
Uncontested Divorce – This is when a married couple files for divorce and is in agreement on all of the issues pertaining to the divorce. This would include matters such as child custody, parenting time, property division, child support, alimony, etc. The couple must understand and voluntarily sign all of the papers related to the divorce. It would make sense then that a couple is more likely to have an uncontested divorce if they don’t own any property or assets and if they don’t have any minor children.
Contested Divorce – Sometimes divorce isn’t so simple. Even if it starts out as uncontested, oftentimes something comes up that the spouses will disagree over. A contested divorce is when a couple can’t agree on one or more issues related to their divorce. Instead, their divorce may require mediation, arbitration, or litigation. Naturally, contested divorces often take longer than uncontested divorces.
Clearly, an uncontested divorce seems preferable, but sometimes it is unattainable. No matter which kind of divorce you and your spouse are dealing with, contact our firm for additional information and guidance
Why You Need a Lawyer to Get Divorced
A lawyer isn't needed for every divorce, particularly if the marriage is short and both parties agree to each term. Visiting your local court or clerk's office can normally provide you with all of the appropriate paperwork.
If you and your partner cannot agree to all terms of the divorce, it is in your best interests to hire an attorney. Child custody and support cases can be difficult to navigate, particularly when your parental rights are at stake. When vast sums of assets are distributed, property division can be a complicated problem. Getting an accomplished legal professional by your side ensures you'll get proper advice and guidance on which issues to tackle vigorously.
If your partner chooses to retain legal counsel, it is important that you do so as well. You don't want to go up against a specialist by yourself.
Is Texas a 50/50 State When Dividing Property?
Once you have come to terms that divorce is happening, it’s time to start thinking about your future. Dividing property and assets is a complicated process, and you will want a knowledgeable attorney helping you figure out a fair arrangement. If you have children, determining child custody will be another major issue. Texas is considered a "Community Property" state. Community property is defined as all property and debt that was acquired from the date of marriage until the marital cut-off date. The community assets will be split equally by the District Court if the spouses are unable to reach an agreement.
Whether you decide to work out the terms of your divorce amicably in an uncontested divorce, or will need to go to court for a contested divorce, our capable divorce attorney in Dallas can provide you with the compassionate and dedicated representation you deserve.
Reach out to Garcia-Windsor, P.C. today. Our Dallas firm serves the metroplex. Call (214) 972-3025.