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Divorce FAQ

What Is No-Fault Divorce?

No-fault divorce is the most common modern type of marriage dissolution. … Rather, the filing spouse simply claims as grounds for the divorce that the couple cannot get along and the marriage has factually broken down.

Initiating a no-fault divorce does not require proving a spouse’s infidelity, wrongdoing, or other marital misconduct. However, the presence of such factors may influence the judge’s final decisions regarding child custody and division of community property.

No-fault divorce proceedings generally take less time than a fault-based divorce. In a fault-based divorce, the spouse filing will need to have evidence of the other spouse’s fault or wrongdoing that led to the dissolving of the marriage. In a no-fault divorce, the only time-consuming parts are determining property and asset division, child custody, and spousal maintenance or child support payments, if necessary, and waiting for the court filing to finalize. A couple can greatly speed up the process if they agree to the terms of their divorce before filing.

What Is The Difference Between Fault And No-Fault?

A no-fault divorce is for spouses who are no longer able to get along and live together due to various differences. In a no-fault divorce in Texas, neither party is responsible for the fact that the marriage did not work out. The ground for a no-fault divorce in Texas is dissolution of the marriage based on irreconcilable differences. No fault divorces are the most common type of divorce in Texas.

In this case, the two spouses agree that they do not want to be married anymore and jointly agree to file a no-fault divorce. This formally states that neither party is to blame or guilty of any misconduct that caused the marriage to end.

Texas also has a type of divorce called uncontested divorce. This type of divorce falls into the category of no-fault divorces and allows the couple to create an amicable plan for resolving custody, asset division, and other aspects of their divorce.

For those who do not agree on the separation, it may be necessary to seek a fault-based divorce. In this case, the person filing will allege that their spouse has specifically done something to make the marriage no longer work.

For example, if one spouse cheated, the other spouse can file for divorce on grounds of adultery. If you file for a Texas fault divorce, you will have to prove that your spouse is responsible for the end of your marriage. At-fault divorce in Texas usually takes longer than no-fault divorce because there are more opportunities for disagreement during the case.

What Is An Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce is one where you do not expect your spouse to disagree with any aspect of the divorce or when your spouse does not respond to the court papers served on him/her. In cases of uncontested divorce, you may represent yourself, but an attorney might still be helpful, especially if your spouse has one.

A divorce is uncontested if:

You and your spouse are eligible for a divorce (one of you has been a D.C. resident for six months prior to filing, and you and your spouse have been separated the required period of time), and

You and your spouse both SIGN the required COURT PAPERS stating that you AGREE that you are eligible for a divorce, you agree about what you want the court to do, and you are not asking the court to make any decisions about anything in dispute.

A divorce is not uncontested, even if you and your spouse agree to divorce, if there is an issue that you and your spouse do not agree on that one of you is going to ask the court to decide as part of the divorce case – for example, custody of your children, child support, or division of your marital property.

What Are The Procedures For A Divorce?

When the decision to seek a divorce is made, the next step is to file. But what are the steps to filing for divorce in Texas?

The decision to get a divorce is never easy. But once it’s made, the next step is to file. But what exactly does this mean? What are the steps to filing for divorce?

It’s first important to note that all jurisdictions, counties, and courts are different. The laws and procedures in one state may differ from those in another. However, regardless of the place the divorce is filed, the process is always fairly complex and should be done with the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney who can help you avoid serious financial and legal pitfalls.

However, the general steps include the following:

  • Filing the petition: One of the parties must first file a petition with the court called the “Original Petition for Divorce” (along with paying the requisite court fee). This petition essentially starts the divorce process. The appropriate jurisdiction where the petition must be filed will depend on the length of the residence of either of the parties. After the petition is filed, the court clerk will assign a case number.
  • Legal notice: After the first party, now known as the Petitioner, files the petition, the other spouse, now referred to as the Respondent, must be provided notice; simply telling the other spouse that a divorce has been filed is insufficient. Depending on the circumstances, the Respondent can either be served-an action where he or she is provided legal notice-or sign a Waiver of Service if he or she has agreed to receive notice. The waiver does NOT mean that the signer agrees to the allegations in the Original Petition, however.
  • The hearing: A petition for divorce generally will require at least one hearing to make a final decision on all of the issues in the divorce, such as property and debt distribution, and child custody arrangements, among others. During the hearing, the parties present evidence to the court on their behalf.

However, if the divorce is uncontested and the parties have already come to an agreement on all of the issues, the non-filing party may not need to attend the hearing.

  • The final decree: Once the issues are all decided, the final divorce decree is signed. Getting to this step can take months or take very little time if the situation is amicable. However, it’s important to note that many states require a waiting period before a divorce decree is signed. The “cooling off” period in Texas is 60 days. Certain jurisdictions also have stipulations on how long parties must wait to get remarried.

The assistance of a family law attorney

The above information is provided as a general overview of the divorce process and there are various intricate areas and procedural requirements not stipulated. If you are contemplating a divorce, seeking the assistance of an experienced family law firm, like The Bowen Law Firm, PLLC; one who knows the laws in depth and can provide individualized guidance is advised.

How much does it cost to get divorced?

The average cost of getting divorced is $15,000 in the US — but here’s why it can be much higher.

Working out how much does a divorce cost in Texas will depend on whether you file for divorce with or without using a lawyer. But when you file for divorce in Texas, you pay a filing fee of between $250 to $300 or more. This fee is mandatory.

A divorce means the dissolution of a marriage on the initiative of one or more of the parties. A forced dissolution is called the dissolution of a marriage

Divorce marks a change – a goodbye to the person who has shared your life with you for a certain number of years. Separating or moving apart is seldom easy. You are separated from someone you have loved, or still love. In the midst of a divorce or separation, there are also practical and sometimes difficult legal issues that need to be resolved around housing, finances, and perhaps children. You have got to think about how much does a divorce cost in Houston Texas too because the financial side of things to the legal dissolution of your marriage will inevitably involve an attorney. Whether you feel relief, shame, heartbreak, or gladness, when you sever your relationship with a spouse, a thread of your own being is cut as well.

When a husband and wife get divorced in Texas, especially if the husband was the primary wage earner, it is more than likely that he will cut the wife off from having any access to his money. When you have got no money, the question ‘how much does a divorce cost in Texas will be on your mind because you want the divorce to happen, but you believe you may not be able to even afford it.

How Much Does A Divorce Cost In Texas?

To answer and understand the above question you have to consider all the divorce options and their costs.

You have to remember that how much does a divorce cost in Texas can work out being costly. If you are determined to go ahead with your divorce, it is something that just has to be processed and paid for. Understanding the entire divorce process can at least give you a rough idea of what to expect in terms of costs.

Divorces in Texas can take months or years to complete, and each divorce has its own set of unique circumstances, even though there are some things that are common to all of them. Deciding on what particular divorce process to use in Texas – litigation, mediation, collaborative divorce, etc. will give you an idea of how to move forward.

When determining how much does a divorce cost in Houston, Texas, it boils down to what options you look at. It is important to understand all of your options and how they will impact your finances. Yes, using an attorney is going to cost more money, but you can at least know that your divorce will be handled in a professional way. It is often easier to sort out the issues in the event of a divorce or separation if you take the help of an outsider who knows which laws and regulations apply.

How Long Do You Have To Be Separated Before You Can File A Divorce In Texas?

Texas does not require parties to be physically or legally separated before filing for divorce. The only thing required is a 60 day waiting period to give couples a chance to cool off. We recommend not moving out or separating immediately but rather continue living in the house and spending time with your kids to maintain your position in the household, especially if you have children.

Does A Divorce Petition Expire In Texas?

A divorce petition does not expire, but most courts in Texas have what is known as a “dismissal docket,” where any case that is over a certain age with little or no activity in it is set for dismissal and a Motion to Retain must be filed with a firm trial date. If this is not done, the case is “dismissed for want of prosecution”.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Divorce?

Due to the Texas mandatory 60 day waiting period, the absolute quickest that a divorce can be finalized is 61 days. Realistically, however, it will take a bit longer for most couples to be granted a divorce in Texas; typically, anywhere from 6 months to a year and a half. And the more assets you have, and the more lives affected by the divorce, the longer it will take.

Bowen Law Firm, PLLC is dedicated to not only moving the divorce process along but also fighting to get you the best resolution possible. Learn more about and what an “average” divorce timeline looks like, what factors may complicate and draw the divorce process, and how Bowen Law Firm, PLLC can help.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Divorce In Texas If Both Parties Agree?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of answering, “How long does a divorce take in Texas?” we want to clarify something about how long a divorce takes if absolutely everything runs as smoothly as possible.

If both parties agree to the divorce, distribution of assets, and custody arrangements, then the filing process and waiting period are the only steps before the final divorce hearing and the marriage could potentially be dissolved after 60 days. However, most courts have full dockets, so even an uncontested divorce hearing will usually be scheduled well beyond the 61st day.

So when making your post-divorce plans, keep in mind that even if you and your spouse have an extremely amicable divorce, you may still be legally attached longer than the minimum 60 days due to court delays.

What Is An Average Texas Divorce Process Timeline?

Just like every marriage is different, so is every divorce. However, the average divorce process goes as follows:

1. Pre-filing (a few weeks)

Pre-filing for a divorce involves two main steps: deciding whether you actually want a divorce and working with a lawyer to prepare to file.

The former is not technically part of the legal process but, often, a natural part of the divorce process is deciding whether or not a marriage can be repaired through marriage counseling or some other form of mediation. In situations where there’s abuse directed towards you or your children, call the police and get help immediately. Otherwise, take some time to ensure this is what you truly want.

When you’re ready, the next step is to retain the services of an experienced divorce attorney, like The Bowen Law Firm, PLLC. A family lawyer will advise you on how to get your finances in order and protect yourself and any kids before serving your partner with divorce papers. This is also the time when you determine what you’re requesting in terms of assets and custody.

2. Filing (a few days)

Once you are ready to file, you and your divorce lawyer will begin the marriage dissolution by filing a petition with the court requesting that their marriage to their spouse be dissolved. This petition also lists your requests for the division of property, child support, and alimony, if applicable.

Either spouse can be the Petitioner as long as they have lived in Texas for at least 6 months and been a resident of the county where they filed for the previous 90 days.

3. Waiting period (60 days)

Texas has a mandatory waiting period of 60 days, starting from the moment the petition is filed.  A 60-day waiver may be granted in cases of family violence, but most couples will have to wait it out. During this waiting period, a divorce will not be granted, but the other party still needs to respond, and the case can still move forward.

4. Responding to a petition (roughly 20-28 days)

Once a petition has been filed with the court, it must be served to the Respondent to let them know the case exists. Petitions can be served via delivery service, publication, certified mail, or left in a location where it will be found, depending on what is allowed in your county.

If your spouse’s whereabouts are unknown, the service of process may add some time to your case. Once the petition has arrived, the respondent has between 20-28 days to respond to the petition by accepting demands, contesting, or asking for an extension to try and reach an agreement.

5. Contesting a divorce (a few months to years)

If a divorce is being contested, the two parties will participate in discovery to collect evidence that supports their claims and reasoning. Oftentimes, lawyers from both parties will sit down and battle it out to come up with an agreement before trial. If an agreement can’t be reached, it is common for one lawyer to keep pushing back the court date as an intimidation practice. Grimes & Fertitta will fight to keep your case moving forward so you can move on with your life quicker.

6. Temporary orders (a few weeks)

While more complicated divorces are underway, the judge may also grant temporary orders detailing who will remain in the family home, who the children will spend time with, and how often as well as the payment of temporary child, spousal support or community debts.

7. Final divorce hearing (a few days)

The final divorce hearing is where a judgment is declared. This hearing could take a few days depending on how much evidence is presented and is often scheduled out well in advance.

What Makes A Divorce Last Longer Than The Minimum Time?

If you’re wondering, “How long does a divorce take in Texas?” because you want a quick divorce but aren’t sure whether that’s feasible for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have children?
  • Is this a high-asset divorce?
  • Do you think your partner will contest the divorce?
  • Has your partner hired a lawyer?
  • Are the courts backed up?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you are likely not going to be able to finalize your divorce in the “record” 61 days. For example, A nigh net worth divorce is a prime example of a type of divorce where some lawyers will drag their feet and potentially stall for years claiming it’s impossible to identify every asset and future earnings.

Meanwhile, complex child custody arrangements can also make it take exponentially longer to reach a resolution, specifically in instances where a child has special needs.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are almost certainly going to be in a better position if you hire a qualified lawyer. Our team will not let you make any high net worth divorce, will teach you how to fight for custody of a child, and will fight for your family’s best interests while keeping in mind your desires for a swift resolution.

My State Requires Me To Be Separated From My Spouse For A Long Time Before I Can File For Divorce. Is There Any Way To Shorten The Time?

Texas does not require parties to be physically or legally separated before filing for divorce. The only thing required is a 60 day waiting period to give couples a chance to cool off. We recommend not moving out or separating immediately but rather continue living in the house and spending time with your kids to maintain your position in the household, especially if you have children.

What If I Can’t locate My Spouse?

So you want a divorce. But what if you can’t find your spouse? While traditionally, once you file for divorce your attorney must serve your spouse with a divorce action, that can’t really happen if your spouse can’t be located. So what do you do? First off, you must make reasonable efforts to find your spouse.

Once you have filed the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court, a disinterested person over the age of 18 may serve the Petition on your spouse. If your spouse can’t be located, your next option will be to file a motion with the court requesting to serve your spouse by publication.  To support your motion to publish, you will be required to establish for the court that you used reasonable efforts to locate your spouse.   Many courts will issue a delay prevention order if too much time has gone by and proof of service has not been filed with the court.  This generally requires filing a report with the court stating the efforts that have been made to accomplish service.

Some of the things you can do to locate your spouse are:

  • Document the last time you saw your spouse and where.
  • Check your spouse’s last address in person.
  • Send your divorce papers by certified mail to your spouse’s last known address. Also send the papers by regular mail. When they are proven to be undeliverable and returned to you, keep the envelopes and mail as documented proof.
  • Contact any of your spouse’s relatives.
  • Contact your spouse’s last know place of employment.
  • Search local and state court and criminal records, jails, and the Federal Bureau of Prison’s website.
  • Search local hospitals, food pantries, and homeless shelters.
  • Search any number of Social Security Death Index websites to see if your spouse’s social security number is listed.
  • Search the military database of servicemembers to see if your spouse is enlisted.

Strongly consider hiring a process serving company to assist in locating and serving your spouse.

While this list is not comprehensive of everything you can do, it’s a start. No matter what you do, you must be able to document your efforts and keep records of all attempts to locate your spouse. Secondly, ask the court for an Order of Notice by Publication.

After you’ve done everything, you can to locate and serve your spouse and you do not believe further efforts to attempt service will be successful, you can then file a motion with the court requesting permission to serve by publication. Serving the Summons and Petition by publication means that the court has allowed you to run a notice (which is a copy of the Summons) in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where you filed. Every newspaper will be different in the costs of such a notice, and you are responsible for the payment. In general, you have to run the notice for 5 weeks in a row. An affidavit from the newspaper attesting to the publication and a copy of the publicized notice must then be filed with the court.

If your spouse does not respond, you will want to set a default hearing with the court. At this hearing, you will only be able to obtain a Decree of Dissolution.  Without personal service, the court does not have jurisdiction to address the division of property,  parental responsibilities, parenting time, or support.

Have questions? If you are considering getting a divorce and your spouse is missing, contact Bowen Law Firm, PLLC. It is always better to consult with a legal professional before moving forward, and we will walk you through any concerns or questions you may have.

Will I Have To Go To Court For An Uncontested Divorce?

Under Texas State law, uncontested divorces typically move through the system rather quickly. Most of the actual work required for both spouses to reach an agreement on their divorce terms takes place outside the courtroom.

Usually, at least one spouse will have to go in front of the judge to answer questions. This is known as a “prove up” hearing. The judge will want to know that both parties truly and fully understand the consequences of their actions.

Divorce is a serious legal decision, with lasting consequences. Even in uncontested cases, it is up to the judge to grant the divorce, and ensure that both parties are confident in their decision. The judge will also seek to confirm that both parties are signing the agreement voluntarily, under their own free will.

However, this hearing is mostly a formality and usually does not make or break the case. There is no need for a formal trial in an uncontested divorce.

Most of the time, the judge will go ahead and grant the divorce under the agreed terms.

In Texas, there is a mandatory waiting period until the divorce becomes law. This period is 60 days in most cases.

It’s important to note that since the COVID pandemic began, there is a possibility that the proven hearing may be virtual, involving the use of a computer or phone video.  Each Texas counties establish its own regulations. Note that mediations and arbitrations are also done virtually.

What Is A Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce is a method of negotiating a divorce settlement whereby both parties, with their respective lawyers, meet together to reach agreements on each aspect of the divorce contract, including child custody, visitation, and financial arrangements. The main benefits include that parties set the terms instead of the court decreeing them and the resolution can be reached quicker.

Collaborative divorce is a relatively new method of resolving issues that people deal with when ending a marriage. Think of a collaborative divorce as a combination of divorce mediation and a traditional divorce that involves attorneys. Both spouses hire lawyers who agree to resolve issues using non-adversarial techniques. The goal is to negotiate a win-win solution that best meets the needs of both sides while avoiding litigation. Collaborative attorneys are committed to managing conflict, not creating conflict.

What Is The Collaborative Divorce Process?

Both sides have to be cooperative and open to compromise for the process to be effective. If one or both parties are not willing to negotiate on the issues, the process is futile.

At the beginning of the process, both parties and their attorneys sign a “participation agreement.” A participation agreement disqualifies the collaborative divorce attorneys from representing either spouse if they can’t reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce and they end up litigating. If the collaborative process isn’t successful, both sides have to get new representation before they begin litigation.

In the beginning both parties meet with their attorneys separately and discuss what they want to achieve through. For example, if one party feels that they need a specific amount of money to be paid in child-support or alimony they would make that known to their attorney before meeting with their spouse and his/her attorney.

After both parties know their goals, four-way meetings take place between both parties and their lawyers. These meetings may be joined by other professionals such as:

  • Child custody experts
  • Financial experts
  • Mental health professionals

A trained mediator might even be brought in if both parties are having trouble reaching an agreement. Other than the spouses and attorneys, all parties are neutral and should only be interested in settling the terms of the divorce without going to court.

Once both sides are in agreement on all the issues, the legal part of the divorce is relatively painless. Since the terms of the divorce have been agreed on, your divorce is uncontested and there is no trial.

What Are The Benefits Of Collaborative Divorce?

There are many benefits to choosing collaborative divorce over a traditional divorce or mediation.

  • The collaborative divorce route might be for you if you want to work out the terms outside of court but you would feel more comfortable having the advice of an experienced attorney who is on your side. Since your collaborative lawyer will be representing you and nobody else, he/she can advise you throughout the proceedings and advocate on your behalf. Depending on the nature of your relationship with your spouse, you may have trouble speaking up or being assertive. You may want an skilled negotiator on your side in this situation.
  • If collaborative divorce is effective and you don’t have to hire new lawyers and go to trial, the process is more simple and less expensive than traditional divorce. The setting is more comfortable and informal.
  • Since the point is to come to a result that is fair to both sides, communication is more open. The parties involved are more likely to be honest and free with information that will help the process move forward more easily.
  • You can decide now how to handle post-settlement disputes. Rather than waiting dealing with future issues as they happen you can deal with them during the collaborative divorce process.
  • You negotiate a result that works for you. Rather than going to court and having a judge decide, you can negotiate the result that you actually have control over.
  • Most importantly, a collaborative divorce can spare a great deal of stress to the families that are going through the process. A lengthy, adversarial, trial can do further damage to already broken relationships. Although a marriage is ending people on both sides may still need to function as a family if there are children involved.

If you want to avoid litigation and work through the terms of your divorce with your spouse and the assistance of a trained attorney collaborative divorce is the best option.

What Is A Covenant Marriage?

Under some states there is a type of marriage called a “Covenant Marriage” where similar legal grounds must be alleged to support a request for divorce from a covenant marriage.

Covenant marriage is a union between spouses that is legally different from a non-covenant or traditional marriage.

Compared to a standard marriage, there are additional requirements for entering into a covenant marriage, such as premarital counseling. There are also specific statutory grounds for divorce from a covenant marriage.

Later, if the couple decides to divorce, there are restrictions, while a couple who enters into a non-covenant marriage can divorce or separate without cause. Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana are the only three states in the United States that one can obtain a covenant marriage.

Most people who enter into a covenant marriage do so for religious reasons. However, before a covenant marriage, both parties must understand the full extent of their commitment.

Currently Texas does not have a covenant marriage statute. Every legislative session a bill is introduced but as of this writing has not passed.