How to File for Divorce in Texas
Divorcing is never easy, but understanding the divorce process can make it less difficult. If you are trying to file for divorce in Texas, this guide can present a step-by-step overview of the process to make sure you understand all the steps involved.
1. Fill Out and File Paperwork
In order to file for divorce in Texas, you must first fill out a petition for divorce. A petition for divorce is the document that gets the process of divorce started legally, and is a requirement for any divorcing spouse.
The petition will ask for a number of details about you, your spouse, your marriage, and (if you have any) your children. You must say in the petition whether you have had any pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements that might affect the divorce, and you must also state grounds for the divorce.
Most people today use “no-fault” grounds, saying that their marriage is simply broken beyond repair. If you wish to allege fault grounds, such as adultery or abandonment, your divorce is likely to take much longer and cost substantially more.
After you fill out the petition, you will need to deliver it to your local district clerk. You will need to pay a filing fee to file for divorce in Texas. The clerk will file your papers and the divorce process begins.
2. Serve Your Spouse
After you file for divorce in Texas, you will need to officially notify your spouse that you are divorcing. Your word that this has been done isn't good enough—you will need to “serve” them officially with court paperwork. This is usually done by hiring the sheriff's office or a private process server, an inexpensive process.
3. Temporary Hearing
Divorce will determine how your assets are divided, but the divorce process can take months after you file for divorce in Texas. During the divorce process itself, you may need temporary measures that address your needs. A temporary hearing will be scheduled that gives temporary child support or custody, temporary spousal support, or temporary use of the marital home.
4. Settlement or Trial
After you file for divorce in Texas and go through the preliminary hearing, you may want to settle out of court rather than go to trial. Trials are expensive and emotionally messy, and don't usually result in significantly different outcomes from divorce settlements. For this reason, most couples choose to settle after they file for divorce in Texas.
Before your case goes to trial, the divorce court judge may try to help you settle out of court by assigning you to attend mediation or having an informal pre-trial conference to settle unresolved issues. Only if these measures fail will couples typically go to trial. If a trial is necessary, the divorce will not be final until the trial is over and a divorce order has been signed.