Every year, over 40,000 couples file for divorce in Texas. Whatever your reason for seeking a divorce, the process can be complicated, emotional, and stressful. Whether you are just beginning or near the end of the divorce process, you probably have questions.
At the Law Office of Chris Schmiedeke, we believe that everyone should understand the divorce process, so we have compiled some of the most common Texas divorce questions and answers. Call our office at 214-989-7375 or fill out our online contact form to speak with an experienced Texas divorce attorney today. We will work to help you simplify your divorce.
It is possible to file a “no-fault” petition for divorce which alleges insupportability. This means that irreconcilable differences have arisen or that you simply cannot get along anymore and that there is no chance of reconciling.
Other grounds for divorce include:
At least one of the parties must have lived in the state of Texas for six months and in the county where the case is filed for 90 days before filing for divorce. For instance, let’s say you live in Oklahoma, but your spouse has lived in Texas for six months and in Dallas County for over 90 days. Despite living in Oklahoma, you can file for divorce in Dallas County, Texas.
The Texas Family Code does not recognize the concept of legal separation or require any sort of legal separation before a divorce. However, if a couple lives separately and apart for an amount of time equal to at least three years, this can be considered grounds for divorce in Texas. Living separately means living in different residences with no cohabitation. You cannot simply move into a separate bedroom; you must live in an entirely separate home.
The first step of the divorce process in Texas involves one spouse filing a document called the “Original Petition for Divorce” with the Texas courts and paying the associated fee. This document is colloquially referred to as divorce papers.
Simply telling your spouse verbally is not enough. Your spouse must be served with the divorce forms or sign a Waiver of Service stating that they have received the filed divorce papers and are “waiving” service. Signing a Waiver of Service does not mean that your spouse agrees with the Original Petition for Divorce. It only means that they acknowledge its existence. However, the divorce case can proceed when the divorce papers are served or the signed and notarized Waiver of Service is filed with the Court.
The most crucial aspect of a divorce is gathering information. This includes account statements for property division or debts and, if you have minor children, documentation supporting your custody position or goal, such as emails, texts, and Facebook/social media posts. Having this information ready for your court hearings and negotiations can help you achieve favorable terms in the divorce.
When it comes to children, any evidence showing that you are an active part of your child’s life and upbringing will help you in custody negotiations. Always remember that the courts seek to protect the best interests of the child of the marriage. You will need to demonstrate that maintaining custody is within those best interests.
There will almost always be at least one hearing where the parties present evidence to the court, and the court makes final decisions about the divorce terms, including custody, child support, distribution of marital property, and spousal maintenance or alimony. In the case that the divorce is uncontested, meaning both parties agree on every single term, the spouse who did not file the petition (the respondent) may not need to attend the hearing.
Every divorce is different. Some take a couple of months to complete, while others can drag on for years before the courts issue a final decree of divorce. After all aspects of the divorce have been settled, both parties must sign the final decree.
There is no easy answer to the question. It depends on the level of the conflict between the parties, any existing children, and the amount of property to divide.
Texas has a minimum waiting period to get a divorce of 60 days. This is considered the “cooling off” period.
For an agreed or uncontested divorce, we can typically wrap those up in around sixty days. Remember that for your divorce to be agreed or uncontested, you must agree on all terms of the divorce.
A contested divorce can take a few months or a few years. Just like you control the purse strings on your divorce, you also control the time it takes. We have set up our internal policies and procedures to manage cases aggressively, moving proceedings along as quickly as the court allows. Doing so can significantly reduce the length of our cases and, therefore, the costs to our clients.
To learn more about Texas divorce timelines, read our recent article on the subject.
Sometimes, spouses delay a divorce for various reasons. Perhaps they are still trying to negotiate terms, or they may not want to get divorced at all. Sometimes they may simply want to drag the divorce out from vindictiveness, a desire to punish or inconvenience you. However, you have some options for handling unnecessary delays in the divorce process.
You can ask the family court for a scheduling order, which sets deadlines for different stages of the divorce. This can help keep it moving along and avoid delays. You can request mediation from the family court to try to settle some issues at the heart of the delays. You can send your spouse settlement offers to try to resolve any outstanding issues.
If your spouse unnecessarily drags out divorce proceedings, you can always set the case for a final trial under Rule 245 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. You must give at least 45 days’ notice if you set a final trial. A knowledgeable Texas divorce lawyer will know how to handle the types of delays common in contested divorces and can advise you on your options while providing legal advice to help move the divorce along.
Texas is a community property state, meaning the court considers that all property and debts acquired by the couple during the marriage belong equally to both spouses and, therefore, are subject to just and right division. If one party alleges that specific property is separate property and not part of the community property, that party can present supporting evidence to the court. Separate property is property owned by a party before the marriage, property inherited by one spouse, a gift to a spouse, or a personal injury award for pain and suffering to one spouse.
Many factors influence whether one party has to pay support to the other, known as alimony or spousal support. When deciding on spousal support, the court considers your marriage’s length, the ability of each spouse to generate income, whether one party is the custodian of your children, which may limit that party’s ability to be employed, and any other relevant factor. A Texas divorce attorney can assist you whether you are asking for support or contesting your spouse’s need for support.
There are three ways that Texas family law resolves child custody disputes. First, the parents’ attorneys can settle the details outside of court. Second, the parents can attempt mediation, with or without a trained mediator, to resolve the issue. Finally, if an agreement cannot be reached through the first two methods, a custody hearing will be held, and a judge will decide.
If a family court judge must make a ruling about child custody, their principal concern will always be the best interest of the child. This means they will consider such factors as:
The courts do not consider gender, race, marital status, religion, or infidelity when determining child custody orders.
Most custody arrangements in Texas are a form of joint custody. Unless there is evidence of an absentee or abusive parent, Texas Family Code Chapter 153 indicates that a joint managing conservatorship is in the child’s best interest. This means both parents retain the right to make parental decisions about the child, but the parent with custody (the primary joint managing conservator) decides the child’s primary residence.
Child support is ordered in about 99 percent of custody cases, regardless of whether the parents have joint or sole custody. The amount and who must pay depends on which parent is of better means and the child’s primary residence. Child support is designed to meet the child’s primary needs and help them maintain a certain standard of living.
I have created a handy child support calculator to help you calculate your child support. This is a rough estimate to give you an idea of the amount you would pay. Always consult an attorney for a more solid figure.
There are three details you need to enter.
That depends on the complexity of your case, whether children are involved, and how much property there is to divide. If you and your spouse disagree about any of the terms of your divorce, you would be considered a “contested” divorce. We charge hourly fees for contested divorces. Our litigation attorney bills $325 per hour, and my hourly rate is $400. We usually charge anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000 in advanced fees before representation, but again, it depends on the complexity of your case. You control the purse strings of your case. The more disagreements there are, the more expensive it gets. The more you can agree upon, the cheaper it gets.
Other attorneys charge less, but we have the client reviews to show we’re worth it. Our clients have made us one of Texas‘s top-rated divorce law firms, with a 5.0-star rating on Avvo and a 4.9-star rating on Google. We go out of our way to simplify your divorce as much as possible.
Yes, you should hire a divorce lawyer to help with your Texas divorce. The first reason is Texas divorce attorneys have an advanced understanding of the legal system. Lawyers understand all the rules and regulations involved in the divorce process. They can offer legal advice on your rights and how to move forward with divorce proceedings. They can help you develop a strategy to protect your interests in negotiations and court.
Second, lawyers provide emotional support. They can be an objective perspective when the divorce process becomes emotionally overwhelming. They can support you legally and emotionally through the process and handle the details while you heal. Hiring a lawyer can reduce the stress of the divorce process.
Third, lawyers know how to complete the paperwork correctly and on time. Several forms must be completed in a divorce. Your lawyer knows how to handle the paperwork and fill out all the forms accurately and promptly. This keeps your case moving smoothly without administrative delays.
Finally, an experienced Texas divorce lawyer can advocate for you. We can help you get a fair result when dividing marital property, determining child custody, and negotiating child support and spousal support.
Remember, you do not know what you do not know. What may seem like a good deal to settle from your spouse may actually be terrible for you because you do not know the law or what courts will typically do.
If you are facing a divorce in Texas, leave it to us to manage all the details of your case. The knowledgeable and experienced Dallas family law attorneys at the Law Office of Chris Schmiedeke can help you. Let us listen to your case, provide a compassionate ear, and take on the details of the fight so that you can work on your emotional recovery. Call us today at 214-989-7375 or use our online contact form to speak with a member of our legal team.