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Filing for Divorce: What is the Divorce Process in Texas?

Filing for Divorce: What is the Divorce Process in Texas?

While every divorce case is unique, the divorce process in Texas remains the same for all couples. The divorce process can affect the timeline of your divorce, which is why it is essential to understand what happens after filing for divorce.

Sometimes, a divorce can be completed in as little as 61 days, while complicated and contested divorce cases can take more than a year to finalize.

If you are considering ending your marriage, consult with a McLennan County divorce lawyer to navigate the divorce process in Texas. Contact our family law attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to receive a consultation.

What’s the Difference Between an Uncontested and Contested Divorce?

Generally, divorces in Texas can be split into two types:

  • Contested divorces. You can pursue a contested divorce if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement regarding all aspects of your divorce, including child support, alimony, and division of property. Contested divorces take longer to finalize than uncontested ones.

  • Uncontested divorces. You can get a quick divorce if you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse agree on all issues and can resolve your divorce case amicably.

The specific type of your divorce will affect the divorce process. It is advised to contact a divorce attorney no matter whether you are seeking an uncontested or contested divorce in Texas.

1. Beginning the Divorce Process in Texas

The first step to begin the divorce process is filing an Original Petition for Divorce. The petition formally notifies the court and your spouse that you want to end your marriage. You need to file an Original Petition for Divorce regardless of whether you are seeking a contested or uncontested divorce.

The petition must lay out your demands and specific requests related to the dissolution of your marriage. The Original Petition for Divorce may include requests related to:

  • Conservatorship of the children (also known as child custody);

  • Your suggestions on how to divide community property in a fair and just manner; and

  • Allegations of marital misconduct such as adultery if you are seeking a fault divorce.

What information you provide in the petition will affect the timeline and outcome of your divorce. If new information is discovered while the divorce case is ongoing, you may be able to submit an amended petition with the help of an experienced divorce attorney.

Many Texas counties have Standing Orders that apply to every case and automatically go into effect once a divorce petition is filed. That’s why you should consult with an attorney in the county where the petition is filed to discuss Standing Orders in your situation.

Note: Once the petition is filed, a divorce cannot be finalized before the 60th day after the date of the filing. The mandatory 60-day waiting period is required by Texas Family Code § 6.702.

2. Serving the Respondent with Divorce Papers

Once one of the spouses (the Petitioner) files an Original Petition for Divorce, the other spouse (the Respondent) must be served with divorce papers. By serving the divorce papers, you are notifying your spouse of the pending divorce action.

Notice of service is an essential step in the divorce process in Texas. Under Texas law, divorce papers can be served to the Respondent:

  1. By certified or registered mail; or

  2. In person by a private process server, sheriff, or constable.

If the Respondent cannot be found and located, Texas law recognizes alternative service options. When the judge confirms that the server made reasonable attempts to serve the Respondent and those attempts have been unsuccessful, the judge may approve alternative service options such as:

  • Service by posting or publication; or

  • Any other service approved by the judge.

Note: If you are seeking an uncontested divorce, one of you can sign a waiver in front of a notary to waive notice of service. This may allow you to get a quick divorce.

3. Reaching an Agreement

This one is the most challenging part of the divorce process in Texas because you and your spouse must work out an agreement on all matters related to your divorce, including division of property, conservatorship, spousal support, and others.

Once you and your spouse reach an agreement, it will be put into writing in:

  1. Rule 11 agreement

  2. Temporary order

  3. Marital settlement agreement

  4. Final Decree of Divorce

If you are not able to come to an agreement with your spouse, your divorce case may proceed to trial. It is vital to seek help from a skilled attorney to help facilitate negotiations with your spouse and avoid costly and time-consuming litigation.

If no agreement is reached following a divorce, your attorney will request a temporary order hearing.

4. Attending a Temporary Order Hearing

These hearings are held to issue temporary orders while spouses are trying to work out an agreement through negotiations, mediation, or litigation. Temporary orders are effective until the parties finalize their divorce and have a Final Decree of Divorce or until another court order replaces it.

  • Temporary orders are usually limited to:

  • Who will live with the children;

  • Where each spouse will live while the divorce is pending; and

  • Who should pay household and other bills.

5. Preparing for and Attending the Final Hearing

The next thing to expect during the divorce process in Texas is the final hearing. It is advisable to have an experienced attorney on your side to help you prepare for the final hearing. Preparation for the final hearing usually includes the following:

  1. Depositions

  2. Discovery

  3. Investigation

  4. Mediation

  5. Preparation for the trial

Once you reach and sign an agreement with your spouse or the judge issues a ruling after the trial, you will get the Final Decree of Divorce.

Talk to a McLennan County Divorce Lawyer

It is essential to speak with a McLennan County divorce lawyer to help you navigate the divorce process in Texas. At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our knowledgeable and compassionate divorce attorneys possess foundational knowledge of the legal system.

Schedule a consultation with our divorce lawyers by calling 254-501-4040 today.
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