While making the decision to get a divorce is not always easy, the actual divorce process in Texas is straightforward for most people, particularly if you and your spouse are in agreement on the divorce and you have limited property. You may even qualify to complete your divorce without a lawyer. If this is the case, you’ll need to fill out the required Texas divorce papers and submit them to your local court. Many Texans use CompleteCase.com to get their divorce papers online as our service makes it easy to identify the documents you need, and we ensure the forms are filled out correctly. If you and your spouse are not in agreement about your divorce, you may consider divorce mediation or seek professional legal assistance.
The following information will help you understand the divorce process in Texas, so you can take the necessary steps to complete your divorce papers and move on with the dissolution of your marriage.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the divorce rate in Texas in 2012 was 3 for every 1,000 residents. From a high of 5.5 per 1,000 in 1990, the divorce rate in Texas has declined at a fairly steady rate over the past 20 years to the number reported in 2012.
Texas is what is known as a mixed state. This means the state allows no-fault divorces and fault-based divorces. There are not very many fault-based divorces filed today, as they require the party filing for divorce to prove that his or her spouse did something to cause the divorce, such as adultery, conviction of a felony, cruel treatment or abandonment for a year or more. In most cases, it is easier to file a no-fault divorce instead.
A no-fault divorce involves filing for divorce without one party being held responsible for the divorce. Each party only has to tell the court that the marriage is “insupportable” based on conflict or discord.
Texas requires that you file several different forms to begin the divorce process. These forms include:
Original Petition for Divorce
Notice of Service of Process
Decree of Divorce
Depending on the county in which you reside, you may be required to submit additional forms. It is important to contact your local county clerk to ensure that you are filling out all the required divorce papers for your specific situation. Failure to fill out all the required forms, or to fill them out correctly, could result in a delay in your divorce or other complications like losing your filing fee.
The Texas Supreme Court has also created a set of forms for a simple uncontested divorce, one with no minor children and no real property. These forms are ideal if your situation meets all the criteria, but again, they must be filled out correctly to avoid potential problems.
You can also choose to get your divorce papers online from a trusted form preparation service like CompleteCase.com. Our service guarantees that you get the right forms for your circumstances and ensures your divorce papers are filled out correctly which can greatly expedite the divorce process.
Once you have the required Texas divorce papers filled out, you can submit them to your Family District Court. You will need to determine which Family District Court is closest to you, and present your completed divorce documents at that location. The county clerk will ask you to pay a filing fee, which will need to be paid in cash, before you can file the documents.
You also have the option of asking for a Temporary Restraining Order in Texas. The Temporary Restraining Order can be useful in giving both parties time to get things in order. It requires both parties to avoid selling or diminishing property in any way, including moving property. It also demands that both parties be civil to one another.
In most Texas counties, you can expect to file a Sworn Inventory and Appraisement document. In this document, both you and your spouse will identify all important property that may be pertinent in the divorce proceedings. This property may include real estate, bank accounts, business information, retirement accounts and investment accounts.
Texas law requires you to inform your spouse of the divorce filing. Officially known as the Service of Process, it requires you to present your spouse with copies of all the divorce papers you filed with the county clerk. You have several different options to serve your spouse, including using a sheriff or constable, a process server or even a service by publication (where you publish the divorce notification in an area newspaper). You may also waive the service requirement, as long as your spouse signs a form stating that he or she was given documents of the initial filing.
The most common method of service is through a constable or through a process server. The constable or sheriff is usually the less expensive route, but you can expect this option to take the longest. If you want to expedite the process, you should probably choose the process server. It will cost more, but the process server serves paperwork like this professionally, and can be relied upon to deliver the paperwork in a timely manner.
In the event where you are unsure how to find your spouse, you do have the option of a service by publication, where you publish the divorce in a newspaper. Service by publication can be expensive, so most people only choose this service option as a last resort.
Once the divorce paperwork is served, you can expect to wait at least 60 days until a judge decrees the divorce finalized.