Divorce is a constant discussion for American families. For example, celebrity divorces have been all over the news for the past several decades. Many of these famous cases have dragged out for months and even years. One famous couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, took almost three years to finalize their divorce.
While many couples hope for a quick divorce, child custody and property division issues can extend the divorce process for what seems like an interminable amount of time. At the Law Office of Chris Schmiedeke, P.C. we have methods to try and simplify your divorce. If you need help with your Texas divorce timeline and coming to an agreement with your spouse, get in touch with us today.
To apply for divorce in Texas, at least one member of the couple must have been a resident of the state for a minimum of six months. If neither party meets these residency requirements, you cannot file for divorce in the state of Texas. If either party has been a resident for the requisite period, you will file in the county in which you have resided for the last 90 days. Your spouse can live in another state, so long as you meet residency requirements.
Part of answering the question “How long does a divorce take in Texas?” is to understand that Texas requires a 60-day mandatory waiting period for divorce — essentially a “cooling off period.” As such, the easiest divorce takes 61 days to complete, with the filing of divorce forms being the most complex part.
If both parties agree to every aspect of the divorce, from the division of assets to alimony, child support, child custody, and beyond, the filing process can be relatively simple. It requires getting through the mandatory waiting period and filing an original petition for divorce that lists the requests for all splits, divisions, custody, child and spousal support, and other settlement agreements. The courts will accept the divorce petition and issue a final decree of divorce, a court order for the marriage dissolution.
The vast majority of divorce proceedings, however, are not that simple and see the couples disagreeing on some aspect of the split. These divorces carry extra steps beyond the initial divorce paperwork. Between three and four weeks (typically), family courts serve divorce papers to the respondent, who can respond to the petition with their side and their demands.
Contesting the divorce can take weeks, months, or even longer. During the process, family courts may grant temporary orders covering issues like who retains temporary ownership of community property like the house, who gets temporary custody of the children, and whether temporary spousal support is needed.
The final divorce hearing comes at the end of the process and can take up to a few days, with each family law attorney presenting evidence before a court order is issued for the dissolution of the marriage. If you are in Texas and need legal advice or help with your divorce case, our family law firm is ready to help. Call our offices at 214-643-8904 or use our online form to speak with a member of our team today.
The easiest divorces in Texas are colloquially called uncontested divorces, which means the couple agrees on every aspect of the divorce. These are the divorces where the couple can fill out divorce forms and dissolve their marriage.
If the couple disagrees on any aspect of the dissolution, whether it is a minor issue of marital property or major issues of alimony or child support, the divorce becomes contested. These make up most divorce cases in Texas. As mentioned, contested divorces usually take much longer to resolve because divorce attorneys must work to resolve areas of disagreement. These can become quite contentious.
It is important to understand that there is no such thing legally as “contested divorce” or “uncontested divorce” in Texas law. There is only divorce. The terms contested and uncontested are informal terms.
Texas does not recognize legal separation. It is not a part of the Texas Family Code. The main requirement for divorce in Texas is the mandatory waiting period of 60 days.
Following the 60-day waiting period, the average duration for an uncontested divorce in Texas is 60–90 days, depending on the availability of the court. In general, the divorce timeline in the state takes anywhere between two months and one year to complete. Some divorces, however, take much longer, depending on how contentious things get with issues of property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support.
The timeline for divorce in Texas involves several steps. These include the following.
The first step is to complete divorce forms and serve divorce papers to the respondent. Most people spend a few weeks with their divorce lawyer preparing their divorce paperwork. Trying to file divorce papers on your own can be very confusing. Many people make critical mistakes like filing the wrong forms, filing incomplete forms, or including the wrong information. This can slow the process and is why having a family law attorney is essential.
You will next need to complete the mandatory waiting period of 60 days. This is the minimum time frame for a divorce.
The constable, process server, or sheriff will serve the papers to your spouse. Your spouse has between 20 and 28 days to respond to your petition after being served the papers. If they agree, the divorce can move forward. If they do not agree, the divorce must be contested.
The time frame for contesting a divorce can range from a few months to several years. It includes a process of discovery where each side gathers evidence to present. It can involve financial disclosures by both sides and the issuance of temporary orders to preserve property and temporarily resolve issues of child custody and spousal support. The process can also involve mediation, arbitration, or court battles.
The major factors that commonly slow the divorce process include:
Let’s break down the reasoning for each.
Issues of child custody and conservatorship in Texas can often be the most contentious part of divorce cases. Both parents want custody, and each parent thinks they are best able to raise their child. It is the job of the family courts and the divorce lawyers for both sides to help determine what is actually in the child’s best interests.
Division of property comes down to issues of marital property versus separate property. Texas is a community property state. This means that all property and debts gained during the marriage and while residing in Texas are considered communal property and are divided in what the court calls a “just and right division”.
Separate property consists of gifts and inheritance, any debt or property acquired before the marriage, and some parts of property bought with separate funds. Issues of who owns what can get complex and combative. Courts must consider each party’s age, health, employment status, education, fraudulent activities, and other factors. They also consider children in the marriage, the length of the marriage, and issues of fault.
Whether the spouses and their lawyers are agreeable or are looking to fight every issue makes a big difference in how long a divorce can take. Everyone is unique, and their attitude and approach will affect how long the divorce process takes.
Family courts are quite backed up in Texas. This means it can take some time before the court is available to review your divorce paperwork and hear your case. How long it takes depends on the individual caseload at the time of your divorce.
Every divorce in Texas requires legal grounds. Proving fault can add time to the process. The Texas Family Code provides seven grounds for divorce. These include:
A divorce is only final in Texas after the judge signs the divorce decree. Even after the hearing is complete and the decision is stated, the marriage dissolution does not become final until the courts complete a physical, signed court order.
Chris Schmiedeke is a compassionate, determined family law attorney who is ready to listen to your problem and be here to help when you need it. Our lawyers deeply care about every couple and family who walks through our doors. We do not have hidden fees or disclaimers. Our sole purpose is to fight for your rights and help you through a very painful time. If you are facing a difficult divorce in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, call the Law Office of Chris Schmiedeke at 214-643-8904 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation with our legal team today.
I was born in Dallas and spent the majority of my life here. I moved to Denver in the middle of the first grade and moved back to Plano in the middle of the eleventh grade. I graduated from Plano Senior High in 1984 and then attended Richland College and the University of North Texas where a received a Bachelor of Business Administration. From there I attended the Texas Tech University School of Law and was licensed to practice law in May of 1993.