Sometimes despite our best intentions and the initial seriousness of our vows, marriage just does not work out, and divorce becomes the wisest course of action. In fact, approximately 75,000 couples divorce every year in Texas. If this is a situation you’re facing, we would like to provide answers to some of the more commonly asked questions about securing a divorce in Texas.
1. Do I have The Grounds to File For Divorce In Texas?
There are many grounds for divorce in Texas, which include adultery, abandonment, cruel and inhumane treatment, and the most common one, insupportability. The latter is often referred to as “irreconcilable differences,” and the vast majority of divorces in Texas are filed under insupportability.
In addition, Texas law allows for “no-fault” divorce, which means the spouse filing for divorce does not have to prove any fault, wrongdoing or marital misconduct on the part of the other spouse. However, a judge may take fault into consideration when determining a fair division of the parties’ marital property.
2. Do You Need a Lawyer to Get a Divorce?
Our answer to that question is a most emphatic “yes!” Technically, you can represent yourself in divorce proceedings, but getting divorced is a complicated process. Failing to have competent legal representation can cost you time, stress, and a lot of money.
It’s also essential to remember that the divorce process can be lengthy, sometimes taking 18 to 24 months. If your proceedings become heated and contentious, an experienced divorce attorney can be an objective party, remaining calm throughout while keeping your best interests in mind.
3. What Paperwork is Involved in A Divorce in Texas?
The type and amount of paperwork involved in a divorce varies according to several factors but the following documents must be included in all divorces in Texas:
- Original Petition for Divorce
- Citation (or waiver)
- Decree of Divorce
4. How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Texas?
That question is somewhat difficult to answer, as every divorce is different. Under the best of circumstances, an uncontested divorce may be completed in as little as 2 to 3 months and cost the parties a few thousand dollars. In general, the more contested the issues involved in the proceedings, the more expensive the divorce. If several hearings, mediation and a trial are necessary, divorce is more expensive than a situation in which the parties agree on all the issues involved in their case.
Concerning costs (as well as the time required), it is essential to understand the difference between an uncontested and a contested divorce. In an uncontested divorce case, spouses have usually reached an agreement on the division of property, child custody, child support and other important issues before meeting with an attorney. In that situation, the attorney can help draft the legal documents, especially the Final Decree, to make sure everyone’s interests are protected.
In contrast, contested divorces often involve disputes that need to be litigated in order to obtain a court order.
You can find more information here on the cost of getting a divorce in Texas.
5. Does Divorce in Texas Change if A Child Is Involved?
Under the Texas Family Code, Section 6.406, you must list all children born or adopted during your marriage in your Original Petition for Divorce. Further, if you and your spouse have minor children together, the judge will make custody, visitation, child support and medical and dental support part of your divorce, unless there is already a final court order in place for custody and support that you do not want to change.
6. Can You Get A Divorce in Texas Without Your Spouse?
If your spouse does not want a divorce, you can still proceed on your own. A default judgment can be pursued if your spouse decides to completely ignore the petition for divorce. Typically, in a situation where one spouse does not want a divorce, they will drag out the proceedings as long as possible and create issues. However, the case can be set for hearings and/or final trial to move the proceedings along.
7. What Are The Most Important Things to Consider Following Completion of The Divorce?
Many things change once the judge affixes their signature to your divorce decree, and you might be surprised how many things are considered assets in a divorce. Among others, the powers granted to your ex-spouse under your durable power of attorney are terminated, they are no longer a beneficiary of your life insurance, they are no longer a Pay on Death payee or beneficiary of your bank account, and provisions in your will related to them will now be read as if they had died before you.
In a word, our best advice: When your divorce becomes final, and your decree does not prohibit it, change your documents and beneficiary designations immediately.
Estate planning during a divorce is also a crucial and often overlooked need. Our recommendation is that you should sign new estate planning documents as soon as you become estranged to make sure your estate is handled as you desire in case you become permanently incapacitated or pass away during the proceedings.
Another post-divorce question concerns changing a last name. Many are eager to change their last name once divorce proceedings begin, and a request for that change may be included in the divorce decree. The decree can then be presented to Social Security Administration officials to get the name changed on your account.
Experienced Legal Assistance is Available at Hammerle Finley Law Firm in Lewisville, TX
We have touched on what we consider to be some of the more important questions related to getting a divorce in Texas. If a divorce is pending in your life, we encourage you to read and study as much as possible to prepare yourself for the many issues that you will face.
In the end, however, there is absolutely no substitute for competent, experienced legal assistance in guiding you through every step of the divorce process. At Hammerle Finley, we have practiced all aspects of family law since 1984, and the attorneys in our office have over 200 combined years of legal experience. A pending divorce is no time for a DIY approach, and we urge you to contact us today to schedule your initial consultation and help you get the best possible divorce settlement.