If you are facing a divorce, you probably have nothing but questions, and while it is true that your divorce will be unique to you and your specific circumstances, the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions can help you move forward with greater clarity. The most important step any person pursuing a divorce can take, however, is consulting with an experienced Copperas Cove divorce attorney. (Read more about the importance of a divorce lawyer)
What are the Residency Requirements in Texas?
Before you can file for divorce in Texas, at least one of you must have been a resident of the state for at least six continuous months, and at least one of you must have been a resident of the county where you file for at least 90 continuous days.
What Is the Texas Divorce Procedure?
Most divorces in Texas move forward in a series of predetermined steps.
Filing the Original Petition for Divorce
The spouse requesting the divorce (the petitioner) files an original petition for divorce with the court and has the divorce papers served to the other spouse.
The Standard Restraining Order
At the time of filing, the petitioner can request that the court issue a standard restraining order that sets the course for the divorce process. The restraining order requires that both parties refrain from disappearing assets and that they act civilly toward one another. If a restraining order is issued, the court will schedule a hearing within 14 days of issuance.
The Respondent's Answer
If no restraining order is issued, the respondent (the spouse who did not file) has about 20 days to file his or her answer, which will instigate a preliminary hearing. At this time, the court will also consider temporary orders that will guide (as applicable) custody, visitation, child support, use of marital property, bill paying, attorney fees, and spousal support while the divorce is pending.
As the divorce pends, both spouses – with the professional legal counsel of their respective divorce attorneys – enter negotiations regarding divorce terms, including all of the following (as applicable):
Child custody arrangements
Division of marital property
Spousal support (commonly called alimony)
Those terms that the spouses are able to reach an agreement regarding will not require the court's intervention.
If there are one or more terms that the spouses cannot resolve between themselves, they will very likely attend mediation. At mediation, a professional mediator serves as a neutral third party who helps both parties (along with their respective divorce attorneys) find common ground and move forward with compromises that they are both willing to accept.
Any terms that remain unresolved after the couple has exhausted their negotiation options proceed to court, which makes the determinations on their behalf.
Is There a Mandatory Waiting Period for a Texas Divorce?
Couples in Texas must wait at least 60 days after filing for divorce before it can be finalized. Generally, however, the negotiation process takes at least this long.
When Will My Divorce Be Finalized?
Your divorce is finalized as soon as the judge in your case announces it in open court and signs the Decree of Divorce. Some divorces take as little as 60 days, but if there are complexities involved, it can take much longer.
Read more: Your Texas Divorce: When Is It Finalized?
What Are Common Complicating Factors?
If your spouse – for any reason – decides to make your divorce as contentious as possible, it is a complicating factor that there is little you can do to change (other than by remaining as calm as possible and by relying upon your dedicated divorce attorney’s levelheaded guidance forward). Other factors that tend to complicate divorces include:
Complicated finances in general
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Texas?
The vast majority of divorces in Texas are no-fault, but the state allows for divorces that are based on fault, including:
Abandonment (Read more in this article: In Texas, Abandonment Is a Grounds for Divorce)
Long-term incarceration of at least one year
Confinement to a mental hospital for at least three years
How Is Marital Property Handled in a Texas Divorce?
Marital property is that property that you and your spouse amass over the course of your marriage, and it doesn’t matter who makes the purchase or whose name is on it. If you acquired it during your marriage, it is very likely marital property (with very few exceptions). In Texas, this marital property is divided equitably, which means that it will be apportioned between the two of you in a manner that is considered fair (keeping the circumstances of your marriage in mind). In other words, your marital property will not necessarily be divided equally but will be divided in a manner that the court considers fair (if you are unable to reach an agreement between yourselves).
Will I Receive Alimony?
Alimony is highly specific to individual divorce cases, and it is not awarded in every case. Only if one spouse experienced a financial downturn as a result of the divorce and the other has the financial means to help will alimony play a part. The court takes myriad factors into consideration in the determination of whether alimony will be awarded and, if so, its duration and amount.
How Are Child Custody Arrangements Determined?
The court takes wide-ranging factors into consideration in its determinations regarding child custody arrangements, but the guiding force is always the best interests of the children involved. The court’s principal beliefs are that children are better served when they continue to have a relationship with both parents and that maintaining the status quo is beneficial for children during the turmoil of divorce. This sometimes translates to one parent becoming the primary custodial parent and the other having a visitation schedule.
An Experienced Copperas Cove Divorce Attorney Can Help
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Copperas Cove, Texas, is a trusted divorce attorney who puts his client’s financial and parental rights first. To learn more about how we can help you, please do not wait to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.