Texas Divorce Laws
The state of Texas has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.
We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce. This information (and much more) is available inside your personal 3StepDivorce account area in order to help you understand how Texas addresses the most important issues in the divorce process and certain elements throughout your divorce forms.
The following overview of Texas divorce laws will help you understand the filing procedure and other primary issues concerning your divorce. Please keep in mind that our Texas online divorce service and support staff will make the process easy for you from start to finish. We take the difficulty out of doing your own divorce.
Residency Requirements: In order to file for a divorce in Texas, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:
A suit for divorce may not be maintained in this state unless at the time the suit is filed either the petitioner or the respondent has been: (1) a domiciliary of this state for the preceding six-month period; and (2) a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90-day period. If one spouse has been a domiciliary of this state for at least the last six months, a spouse domiciled in another state or nation may file a suit for divorce in the county in which the domiciliary spouse resides at the time the petition is filed.
A person not previously a resident of this state who is serving in the Armed Forces of the United States and has been stationed at one or more military installations in this state for at least the last six months and at a military installation in a county of this state for at least the last 90 days is considered to be a Texas domiciliary and a resident of that county for those periods for the purpose of filing suit for dissolution of a marriage.
The divorce is typically filed with in county in which the filing spouse resides. (Texas Code - Family Code - Chapters: 6.301)
No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested divorce cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Texas the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:
The marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation. (Texas Code - Family Code - Chapters: 6.001-6.007)
Changing Name: In a decree of divorce or annulment, the court shall change the name of a party specifically requesting the change to a name previously used by the party unless the court states in the decree a reason for denying the change of name. The court may not deny a change of name solely to keep the last name of family members the same. A change of name does not release a person from liability incurred by the person under a previous name or defeat a right the person held under a previous name. (Texas Code - Family Code - Chapters: 45.105, 45.106)
Filing Party Name: The Petitioner. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the divorce and is the one who actually files the Petition for Divorce with the county court.
Non-Filing Party Name: The Respondent. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested divorce versus a contested divorce. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.
Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: In the District Court of __________ County, Texas, __________ Judicial District. All divorce cases in the state of Texas are facilitated through this court for that particular county.
Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Texas clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: District Clerk's Office.
Property and Debt Division: Texas is considered a "community property" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the community property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is community. Second, it will put a value on the community property. Third, it will divide the community property in an equal fashion.
In a decree of divorce or annulment the court shall order a division of the following real and personal property, wherever situated, in a manner that the court deems just and right, having due regard for the rights of each party and any children of the marriage:
(A) property that was acquired by either spouse while domiciled in another state and that would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property had been domiciled in this state at the time of the acquisition; or
(B) property that was acquired by either spouse in exchange for real or personal property and that would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property so exchanged had been domiciled in this state at the time of its acquisition.
In a decree of divorce or annulment, the court shall award to a spouse the following real and personal property, wherever situated, as the separate property of the spouse:
(A) property that was acquired by the spouse while domiciled in another state and that would have been the spouse's separate property if the spouse had been domiciled in this state at the time of acquisition; or
(B) property that was acquired by the spouse in exchange for real or personal property and that would have been the spouse's separate property if the spouse had been domiciled in this state at the time of acquisition.
In a decree of divorce or annulment, the court shall confirm the following as the separate property of a spouse if partitioned or exchanged by written agreement of the spouses:
(A) income and earnings from the spouses' property, wages, salaries, and other forms of compensation received on or after January 1 of the year in which the suit for dissolution of marriage was filed; or
(B) income and earnings from the spouses' property, wages, salaries, and other forms of compensation received in another year during which the spouses were married for any part of the year. (Texas Code - Family Code - Chapters: 7.001-7.006)
Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.
A court that determines that a spouse is eligible to receive maintenance shall determine the nature, amount, duration, and manner of periodic payments by considering all relevant factors, including:
(A) the financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including the community and separate property and liabilities apportioned to that spouse in the dissolution proceeding, and that spouse's ability to meet the spouse's needs independently;
(B) the education and employment skills of the spouses;
(C) the duration of the marriage;
(D) the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
(E) the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is requested to meet that spouse's personal needs;
(F) dissipation of assets;
(G) the comparative financial resources of the spouses, including medical, retirement, insurance, or other benefits, and the separate property of each spouse;
(H) the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
(I) the property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
(J) the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
(K) marital misconduct of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
(L) the efforts of the spouse seeking maintenance to pursue available employment counseling as provided by Chapter 304, Labor Code. (Texas Code - Family Code - Chapters: 8.001-8.055)
Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Texas courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.
(1) The court will strive to promote the amicable settlement of disputes between the parties to a suit, the parties may enter into a written agreement containing provisions for conservatorship and possession of the child and for modification of the agreement, including variations from the standard possession order.
(2) If the court finds that the agreement is in the child's best interest, the court shall render an order in accordance with the agreement.
(3) Terms of the agreement contained in the order or incorporated by reference regarding conservatorship or support of or access to a child in an order may be enforced by all remedies available for enforcement of a judgment, including contempt, but are not enforceable as a contract.
(4) If the court finds the agreement is not in the child's best interest, the court may request the parties to submit a revised agreement or the court may render an order for the conservatorship and possession of the child.
A child 12 years of age or older may file with the court in writing the name of the person who is the child's preference to have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child, subject to the approval of the court. (Texas Code - Family Code - Chapters: 5-153.004-153.434)
Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Texas child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.
The court may order either or both parents to support a child in the manner specified by the order:
(a) until the child is 18 years of age or until graduation from high school, whichever occurs later;
(b) until the child is emancipated through marriage, through removal of the disabilities of minority by court order, or by other operation of law;
(c) until the death of the child; or
(d) if the child is disabled as defined in this chapter, for an indefinite period.
The court may order either or both parents to make periodic payments for the support of a child in a proceeding in which the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services is named temporary managing conservator. In a proceeding in which the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services is named Permanent Managing Conservator of a child whose parents' rights have not been terminated, the court shall order each parent that is financially able to make periodic payments for the support of the child.
In a Title IV-D case, if neither parent has physical possession or conservatorship of the child, the court may render an order providing that a nonparent or agency having physical possession may receive, hold, or disburse child support payments for the benefit of the child. (Texas Code - Family Code - Chapters: 154.001-154.309)
Copyright Notice: These Texas divorce laws above are copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.
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