Divorce

Getting Started

Residency Requirement:

To file for divorce in Texas, either spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months prior to filing, and must have resided in the county where the Petition is filed for the prior 90 days.

For the court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident Respondent the couple’s last marital residence must have been in Texas, and the suit must be filed before the second anniversary of the date on which marital residence ended.

If one spouse has resided in Texas for the past six months and the other spouse lives in a different state or country, the spouse residing outside of Texas is permitted to file for divorce in the county in which the other spouse lives.

Military Personnel:

Texas residents serving in the armed forces and stationed outside of Texas or the U.S. may still be considered a resident of Texas. Military personnel, who have not been previous residents of Texas, but have been stationed at one or more military installations in Texas for at least the past six months, and at a military installation in a county of Texas for the prior 90 days, are considered to be Texas residents and residents of that county for the purposes of filing for divorce.

Pregnancy:

If one party is married, it is best to wait until the baby is born to seek a divorce. Most Texas courts will not finalize a divorce if the wife is pregnant, even if the baby is not the husband’s. The court will typically wait until after the birth of the baby so that orders regarding the child can be included in the final decree.

Filing:

The Petition for Divorce may be filed with the District Court of the county where either party lives. The Petitioner must give legal notice to the Respondent, other spouse.

If the Respondent does not file an Answer within 21 days from being officially served, the case is default and it may be possible to finish the divorce process without the Respondent.

There is usually a 60-day waiting period from the date the Petition is filed before a judge will grant a final divorce decree. The waiting period is not required if the court finds that the Respondent has been convicted of domestic violence offense against the Petitioner or a member of the Petitioner’s household, or if the Petitioner has an active protection order or an active magistrate’s order for emergency protection against the Respondent due to domestic violence committed during the marriage.

Neither party to a divorce may marry again, except each other, before the 31st day after the divorce is decreed, unless good cause is shown to the court.

Collaborative Divorce:

Upon written agreement of the parties and their attorneys, a dissolution of marriage proceeding may be conducted under collaborative law procedures.

Collaborative law is a procedure where the parties and their attorneys agree in writing to use their best efforts and make a good faith attempt to resolve their dissolution of marriage dispute on an agreed basis without resorting to judicial intervention, except to have the court approve the settlement agreement, make the legal pronouncements, and sign the orders required by law.

If the collaborative law procedure fails to result in settlement of the dissolution dispute, the parties’ counsel must withdraw and may not represent the parties for divorce court proceedings.

Spouse’s Name:

Upon the specific request of a party to change his/her name to the one used prior to the marriage, the court may change the name of the party in a decree of Divorce or Annulment, unless the court states a reason for denying the name change in the decree.
The court may not deny a change of name simply to keep the last name of family members the same.