TEXAS DIVORCE BASICS AND OVERVIEW
This is a DIY divorce overview to help you understand the state of Texas divorce laws and basics. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during and after your divorce.
Divorce in Texas Made Easy/missingspouse.shtml
- Time Frame: The clerk sets a date for a hearing that cannot take place until a 60-day "cooling off" period transpires. Couples use this 60-day waiting period to finalize the settlement agreement and prepare the final divorce decree.
- Where to File: District Court. "In the District Court of _______________ County, Texas, ___________ Judicial District."
- State Statutes: Texas Family Code, Chapter 6.
- Name of Action: Decree of Divorce.
- Name of Parties: The petitioner, who files, and the other party if the respondent.
- No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: No-fault and other grounds.
- Primary Documents Filed: Petition for Divorce and Decree of Divorce.
- Physical Separation Required: No.
- Separation Time to File: None.
- Legal Separation Permitted: Yes.
- Grounds: No-fault, which means that "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; and fault grounds of cruelty, adultery, conviction of a felony, abandonment, living separate and apart for three years, or confinement in a mental Hospital.
- Residency Requirement: One of the spouses must be a resident for six months in the state of Texas and 90 days in the county of filing.
- Mediation Required: Mediation is one of the most frequently used methods of negotiating a divorce in Texas. Many counties strongly recommend mediation. Travis County, for example, requires mediation when the court believes that a hearing before a judge on a family law dispute will take three hours or more.
- Counseling Required: As part of the mediation regime, the court may order both spouses to consult a marriage counselor. If his or her report indicates that there is a reasonable chance of reconciliation, the judge may order additional counseling for up to 60 days.
- Parenting Classes Required: The court may order spouses to attend a parenting class. The goal of the classes is to educate the parents on best practices for co-parenting during and after divorce.
The length of the parenting classes varies depending on the county court. Most of the time it is one session that is 4 hours long. Once completed the divorcing parents receive a Certificate of Completion that they must provide to the court to show proof of attendance. The class is called the Texas Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Family Code 105.008 discusses the details. There are also options to take online parenting classes from private companies to fulfill the requirement. This option is certainly more convenient in most cases, but just make sure the online class you choose is on the list as being accepted for your county.
- Filing Fee: $250-$350. (Form for Waiving Filing Fees for Texas)
- Where to File for Child Support: The custodial parent can seek enforcement of child support in the court. In Texas, methods of enforcement include wage garnishment, seizure of lottery winnings and tax refunds and suspension of drivers', business, and hunting licenses. If the support continues to go unpaid, the noncustodial parent can be held in contempt and be sentenced to six months in jail.
- Child Support Guidelines Model: Support is a flat percentage of the noncustodial parent's income (less allowable deductions) for each child. Support ranges from 20 percent of net resources for one child to 40 percent for five children.
The Child Support Division of the Office of the Texas Attorney General oversees child support, which is based on statutory law. By statute, child support guidelines are based on a percentage of income of the noncustodial parent's net income. Deviation from this amount is permitted as long as the support amount is sufficient to support the child. Support ends at age 18 or graduation from high school, whichever is later. No statute or case law requires support for college, but can certainly be agreed upon by the parents.
- Property Division: Texas is a community property state, using the dual classification routine.
- Appreciation of Separate Property: The appreciation of separate property is separate.
- Attendance at Hearing: Yes. The judge reviews the paperwork and asks questions to make sure one or both spouses agree on all aspects of the divorce. At the end of the hearing, the judge signs the final decree.
- Fault Considered in Property Division: Yes, fault is considered in the property division.
- Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: Yes. 30 days.
- Ways to Serve Spouse: Generally for an uncontested no-fault divorce, the respondent waives service by signing a waiver.
- Divorce Records: California Department of Public Health Vital Records (CDPH).
The Texas Department of State Health Services provides verification for marriage and divorces filed in Texas. Verification letters are not substitutes for marriage licenses or divorce decrees. If you need a Verification Letter, make sure that this document satisfies any requirement for its use. Otherwise you may simply need a certified copy of the Divorce Decree signed by the judge when your divorce was finalized. You can only obtain certified copies of marriage licenses or divorce decrees from the clerk (county or district) where the marriage or divorce was filed. The Vital Statistics Unit provides letters verifying if a marriage or divorce was recorded with the State of Texas. If no record of a marriage is found, the letter provided verifies only the status of the person as being single. Verification letters of divorces or annulments are available for actions that occurred from 1968 to the present. You can contact the Texas Health and Human Services at 1100 West 49th St., Austin Texas or call 888-963-7111.