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Understanding Divorce Laws in Texas


Deciding to get a divorce is a life-changing event. Several components are involved in the divorce process; from your finances to child custody arrangements, there is a lot of factors you must consider. With the help of our knowledgeable and skilled divorce attorneys, you don’t have to worry about missing a step along the way. Parchman Law Group will ensure we protect your best interests throughout the whole process.

Keep reading our guide with everything you need about Texas divorce requirements

Grounds for Divorce in Texas

Texas allows both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. There are seven grounds for divorce in Texas. Fault-based grounds for divorce include:

  • Cruelty - When a married couple cannot continue to live together because one spouse is guilty of cruel treatment towards the other spouse.

  • Adultery - The law in Texas defines adultery as when one spouse cheats on the other during the marriage.

  • Conviction of Felony - One spouse was either convicted of a felony, was imprisoned for at least one year in any state or federal prison, or they were not pardoned.

  • Abandonment - A spouse leaving with the intention of abandonment or has not been around for at least one year.

  • Living Apart for at least three years - The spouses have not cohabited together for at least three years.

  • Confinement in a Mental Hospital - At the time of filing, your spouse is under the confinement of a private or state mental hospital for at least three years, and their mental disorder is not the type to get better.

The grounds for a no-fault divorce state that the marriage has become insupportable because of conflicts between the parties and that there is no reasonable expectation that there will be a reconciliation.

Dividing Assets Appropriately in Property Division

During your divorce, you and your spouse will have to divide your assets, otherwise known as property division. Texas operates as a community property state; which means all the assets you or your spouse acquired during the marriage are considered both you and your spouses property. During a divorce, these assets are not required to be equally divided. Instead, Texas statutes allow courts to split assets up in a way they deem as “just and right.”

Assets acquired before marriage and assets received as a gift from someone either during your marriage or before are considered separate property. Separate property is safe from property division.

Property division is one of the most contentious parts of a divorce. Legal advice from a skilled divorce attorney can help you protect your assets.

How Long Does the Divorce Process Take?

The length of the divorce varies depending on the complexity of the divorce issues at hand. These issues may range from financial support, custody, and visitation. After the divorce has been petitioned, it still will take 60 days to finalize. Divorces in Texas are never quick, as most will take at least 6 months to a year to be fully complete.

Best Interests of the Child: Child Custody and Support

If you are getting divorced and have children, you will have to decide which parent gets custody.

Child custody is called “conservatorship” in Texas. A conservatorship is the rights and duties of parents. Courts will decide on which custody option is in the best interest of the child.

Texas courts can grant sole or joint custody. In a sole managing conservatorship, one parent will make all decisions regarding the child. On the other hand, a joint managing conservatorship allows both parents to make decisions about the child jointly. Courts prefer when parents share joint custody of the child. In joint custody, the child will still primarily live with one parent, but the other parent has visitation rights. Both parents will make decisions in raising the child.

A court will decide whether or not a parent will have to pay child support depending on what is in the best interest of the child. Courts typically order the parent that the child does not primarily live with (non-custodial parent) to pay child support. Parents pay child support until the child reaches the age of 18.

Spousal Support vs. Alimony

Typically alimony is used to describe spousal support. Alimony is a regular payment made to a spouse after a divorce. However, in Texas courts, alimony is called spousal maintenance.

Courts can order maintenance if the spouse seeking support does not have enough property (separate or community) to support basic needs. In addition to this, certain circumstances must exist for the court to decide if spousal maintenance is needed, including:

if one spouse was convicted of committing family violence against the other spouse or their child during the marriage during the divorce proceedings or within two years of filing for divorce
  • if the spouse seeking support has a physical or mental disability that disables them from earning enough income to cover their basic needs

  • if the spouses remained married for ten years or more, and the spouse seeking support is unable to earn enough income for their basic needs, or

  • if the spouse seeking support cannot make enough income for basic needs because they have custody of a child of the marriage who requires special care or supervision because of a physical or mental disability.

Courts will assume that an order for spousal maintenance is not needed unless it involves a conviction of family violence. The spouse seeking support has to prove they have made reasonable effort to earn income or develop skills that provide for basic needs during the separation and divorce proceedings.

If the order is approved, judges will consider several factors to determine how much support should be awarded and for how long. There is a limit to the amount of support payment that can be made. It cannot be more than $5,000 or 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly income, or whichever amount is less. Texas laws limit the duration of a maintenance order, which will provide only until the receiving spouse can earn enough and cover their basic needs.

What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce?

In order to file for divorce in the state of Texas, there are specific residency requirements. You or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before your file date. Additionally, you must have lived in the county where you filed for at least 90 days. If you live in another state, but your spouse lives in Texas and meets the above requirements, you can file for divorce in the county you reside.

Contact a Divorce Attorney for Help

If you are considering getting a divorce in the state of Texas, let us help you file for divorce. Getting a divorce is a complicated process that involves a lot of considerations and requirements. Our dedicated and experienced divorce attorneys in The Woodlands will make sure that you understand Texas laws on divorce.

Contact our firm today at (713) 364-0777 for a free consultation on your case.

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