To file for a Texas divorce, one of the spouses must have been living in the state continuously for six months prior to filing. Also, one of the spouses must have been living in the county where they intend to file the divorce for a minimum of 90 days.
The divorce process begins when one spouse files an Original Petition for Divorce with the Texas court. The divorce papers will be delivered (served) to the other spouse personally. If one spouse is at fault for the breakup of the marriage (fault grounds), the court may take that factor into consideration when determining equitable (fair) property division.
Contested vs. Uncontested
Generally, divorces in Texas are categorized into two - contested and uncontested divorce.
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses mutually agree on the essential terms and conditions of the divorce, such as property division, spousal maintenance, child support, custody, tax deductions, and parenting time. They will file the agreed-upon terms with the Texas court for official approval.
Conversely, in a contested divorce, the spouses are unable to agree on one or more essential terms or conditions of the divorce settlement. A court hearing may be required to settle such divorce issues, where the judge will give a final order.
Spousal maintenance or alimony is a court-ordered payment from the higher-earning spouse to the lower- or non-earning spouse to help the receiving spouse meet "minimum reasonable needs" during or after the divorce or legal separation. Texas courts will only award spousal maintenance if:
- One spouse has been convicted of domestic violence against the other spouse or children
- The marriage lasted for at least 10 years
- The supported spouse is unable to be self-supporting due to a disability
- The requesting spouse is the custodian of a disabled child, thus limiting his or her ability to work
Some factors considered when determining the amount of spousal maintenance include:
- The duration of the marriage
- The ability of the spouse to pay support
- The earning ability, age, and health of the recipient spouse
- The education and skills of the spouses
- The contribution of one spouse to the other spouse's education
- The contribution of one spouse to the marital property or homemaking services
- Bad actions by either spouse, for instance, committing adultery or wasting community property
Division of Property
Texas is a community property state. Therefore, all property acquired, income earned, or debt incurred during the marriage are regarded as marital property or debt and must be divided “equitably.” However, “equitably” isn’t necessarily “equally” but rather in a fair manner. To determine what is considered a “fair” division of property, the court may consider the following factors:
- Unequal earning power
- Ages, education, and health of the spouses
- Divorce on fault grounds
- The amount of separate property owned by each spouse
Each spouse will keep their separate property (property acquired before the marriage, or given as gift or inheritance during the marriage).
Child Custody and Support
In Texas, child custody is referred to as "conservatorship." In a contested divorce, the Texas court will consider the following factors when awarding child custody and support:
- The child's own wishes
- Whether joint custody (joint conservatorship) would benefit the psychological, physical, and emotional well-being of the child
- The ability of the parents to encourage and promote a relationship between the child and themselves
- The ability of both parents to work together and make decisions that are in the best interest of the child
- The contribution of either parent to the upbringing of the child
- Other factors determined by the court to be in the child's best interest
Family Law Attorneys in Corpus Christi, Texas
Going through a Texas divorce involves a lot of complexities. Trying to negotiate a divorce settlement, property division, and determining child conservatorship and visitation periods with your estranged spouse can make the process even more complicated and overwhelming. Thankfully, a knowledgeable Texas family law attorney can offer the comprehensive guidance you need and help you navigate key decisions.
The Torres Attorneys are highly experienced and knowledgeable in family law matters, including divorce, spousal maintenance, child custody, and support. As your legal counsel, we will work diligently with all parties involved and ensure that all divorce issues and relationship differences are resolved productively. Our attorneys will fight compassionately to protect you, your future, and your family's best interests.