Texas Divorce – How Long Will It Take to Get Divorced and Other Important Facts

To file for a divorce in Texas, you must be a Texas Resident for 6 months, and you must have lived within the county you plan to file in for at least 90 days immediately prior to filing of your divorce petition. Time spent by a Texas resident outside of Texas, while in the military, satisfies the residency requirement in Texas for a divorce.

Texas does not recognize legal separations.

It is possible to get a divorce even though the other party does not want the divorce to take place. Texas is a “no fault divorce state.” “No fault” means that one spouse does not have to prove the other spouse has done anything wrong in order to obtain a divorce. You cannot be held to a marriage because your spouse does not want to sign or refuses to participate in the divorce process. The court will enter divorce orders even if the other party refuses to sign them.

Texas requires a minimum 60 day waiting period before any divorce can be finalized. The 60 day period begins to run from the time the Original Petition for Divorce is actually filed with the court. In other words, the shortest time it will take to finalize a divorced in Texas is 61 days. On occasion, in domestic violence cases, there is an exception to the 60 day rule. If the parties are in agreement, a divorce proceeding can be finalized immediately following the sixty-day waiting period. On average, however, the time period is more likely to run 90 to 120 days in an uncontested divorce due to the crowding of court dockets and the time necessary for counsel to draft necessary legal documents and obtain the agreement of both parties regarding the wording of the final documents. If the parties are not in agreement, the time necessary to finalize the divorce will depend on the conduct of both parties and their attorneys, the court’s schedule, the matters in controversy and the complexity of the contested issues. From start to finish, the divorce process may go through a number of phases which might include temporary orders, exchange of financial information, psychological evaluations (in child custody cases), alternative dispute resolution, trial, and appeal. A divorce in which the parties are deeply in opposition to an agreement on some or all of the core issues may take anywhere from several months to several years to complete.

As to the division of marital assets, Texas is a community property state. For more information on community and separate property, see our blog, Divorce: What is separate property and what is community property.

It is important to remember that, although the statutory waiting period to finalize a divorced is 60 days, it is more likely than not that your divorce will “not” be finalized on the 61st day following the filing of your petition for divorce.

Financial Basics in Surviving Your Divorce

So you have now decided to divorce. You know it will be painful & scary, but you believe the time is right to have a single life.  Financial vulnerability and risks are inevitable.

Every year, approximately three million men and women head down the emotional and financial path of divorce.  Following a divorce the cost is usually 25-50% more to maintain your pre-divorce lifestyle. A single household becomes twice as expensive as each spouse losses the benefit of the other spouses income. Economic discrimination due to gender gaps place additional financial burdens on women.   A woman’s standard of living may drop 27% while a man’s standard of living may increase 10%!

Now start with the financial basics in surviving your divorce! What are the basics?

  • A secure place to live

  • Create little or no debt

  • Protect retirement assets or income

  • Use of liquid money or assets

The most important of these basics is Liquid money! You will need money to find a place to live and hire an attorney.  You will also need money to pay your expenses during your divorce. Liquidity will definitely come in handy and enhance your position in the proceedings.

What about Debts? If possible pay off your debts now. The uses of savings or assets you can liquidate are the cleanest methods. Many divorced people find themselves responsible for their EX’s portion of debt since the exiting spouse refuses to pay. Legally, you may be responsible if your ex-spouse does not pay. Try to start your new life free of debt and with a new sense of self confidence!

What about Cash Issues and Retirement Assets in a Divorce? If you and your spouse have retirement savings, each of you will probably be entitled to a one-half share or a portion based on a fixed ration of the number of years married and number of years of investing.   This money could be kept for retirement or used to repay other current expenses or debts.  Make sure you examine prospective tax treatment to avoid the 10% penalty on early withdrawal by the IRS.

Some tax questions to know about:

  • Are spousal maintenance payments tax deductible?

  • Who will be able to claim Head of Household status?

  • Who gets the tax exemption for the kids?

  • Is child support non-deductible?

  • Which Attorney fees are tax deductible?

Always remember to “Look at the big picture”.  Keep your focus on finances and parenting.  If you need help from smart professions, as your attorney, accountant, or mental-health professional, get it now! They will help you and your family with focus, objectivity and a long-term vision that is very difficult for you during this tumultuous time in your life. Now you need to be able to articulate you needs and goals for the future.

Do not forget! This time too shall pass and you may be, with planning, better than ever in the future!

Child Abuse and Family Violence in Texas

The Texas Family Code defines Family Violence as an act by a member of the family or household against another member that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or a threat on a family member in danger of imminent physical harm.  This abuse is defined as physical injury that results in substantial harm or genuine threat of sexual, intercourse or conduct; or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct.

What does “family” include?  Individuals related by blood or affinity, marriage or former marriage, biological parents of the same child, foster children, and members or former members of the same household (including roommates).

What about child abuse?

Some very interesting statistics:

  • A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds

  • More than four children die every day as a result of child abuse

  • 70% of children that die from abuse are under age of 4

  • Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level within all ethnic and cultural lines and all religions and all levels of education!

  • Approximately 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children

Statistics re: childhelp.org

In Texas (2008 Crime in Texas.com), victims are primarily female (75%) and the offenders are primarily male (77%). The primarily weapon involved in family violence is physical force with the use of hands, feet or fists (78%).

How can you know if child abuse exists in a household?

Look for these most common child abuse indicators in children:

  • Injuries that are unexplained

  • Major and sudden changes in a child’s behavior

  • Return to earlier behavior: such as bed wetting, thumb sucking, and fear of dark or strangers or more serious language or memory problems

  • Serious fear of going home

  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits

  • Changes in school performance or attendance

  • Lack of personal care or hygiene

  • New risk taking behaviors

  • Inappropriate sexual behavior

If you are a family member, friend, teacher, or child-care giver of a child who has started displaying very different behaviors or showing injuries, it is imperative that you contact someone who can either help this child or prevent any more family violence from occurring in this child’s family. This child and family need help now!

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