What are the grounds for a divorce?
Texas law allows for “no-fault” divorces. However, if one spouse is at fault for the breakup of the marriage, the court may take that into consideration in determining what is an equitable (fair) division of the couple’s property. For that reason, you may want to include fault grounds in your petition for divorce. The statutory grounds for a fault divorce are: adultery, cruel treatment (that renders further living together insupportable), abandonment (for at least one year with the intent to abandon), long-term incarceration (more than one year), confinement to a mental hospital for at least three years, or living apart for at least three years. For a no-fault divorce, your petition alleges “insupportability,” which is defined as discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
What if you did not control finances during the marriage and don’t think you can afford to hire an attorney?
Under certain circumstances—for instance, if one spouse has no personal income or if there is a significant disparity of income— judge can compel the spouse who was the primary income producer in the family to pay for the other spouse’s attorney.
Are there any residency requirements?
To file for a divorce in Texas, one of the spouses has to have been a resident of the state for a continuous six-month period. In addition, one of the spouses must have been a resident of the county where the divorce is filed for at least 90 days.
How is property divided in Texas?
The court starts with a presumption that all the property earned or acquired by either spouse during the marriage is community property, owned equally by the spouses. If you have separate property, you have to prove it by tracing it with “clear and convincing evidence.” Separate property includes property acquired by just one spouse by gift or inheritance. For example, you might show that you inherited some money from your grandmother and always kept it in a separate account with only your name on it. The court divides community property between the spouses in a “just and right manner.” In most cases, that means a 50-50 split. In some cases, however, factors such as unequal earning power and fault in the marital relationship can affect the division of property.
After the divorce is filed, how long does it take to finalize it?
In Texas, a divorce cannot be final for at least 60 days after the petition is filed. The divorce is final as soon as the judge pronounces it so in open court and signs the decree of divorce. If the spouses are not in agreement, it typically takes about six months to one year or longer to finalize a divorce, depending on the complexity of the issues and the degree of conflict.