- Things to know before filing for divorce
- Steps to file for divorce
- Understanding financial disclosures
Filing for divorce in Texas is the first step toward ending your marriage. You don't need a lawyer to start this process, but you will need patience. Many forms are involved, and they must be filled out properly.
Here's what you need to know about filing for divorce in Texas, including what decisions you must make before you get started.
Things to know before filing for divorce
Per Texas law, a divorce is a civil lawsuit filed by one person against another. The laws in your state guide every step and decision you make, and you have many required decisions to make.
Before diving right in, thinking about your situation, goals, and potential liabilities is critical. These three questions can get you started:
Do you meet residency requirements?
Texas courts can't rule on every divorce case. Judges need legal jurisdiction to decide important issues such as child custody and spousal support. Residency requirements ensure that judges only work on matters in which they have legal authority.
Either you or your spouse must live in Texas for at least six months before you file. You'll file your documents in a courthouse in the county where you (or your spouse) have lived for the last 90 days.
What type of divorce works best for you?
To file for divorce in Texas, you'll fill out an Original Petition for Divorce. Several questions on this form pertain to how your spouse will react to or respond to your petition.
In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree that divorce is right for them. You may need to complete a short courtroom visit to finalize your split, but you can handle most of the details of your break-up outside of the courtroom. If you've already discussed divorce with your partner and agree to work together, this type of divorce is likely best for you.
In a contested divorce, your spouse disagrees with your plans and will not sign final divorce documents willingly. Your spouse can't block your divorce plans, but you must go to court to finalize your agreements. If your spouse won't discuss divorce with you or disagree on important topics (like child custody), this type of divorce might be best for you.
Will you need support services?
Texas courts don't keep a list of lawyers or legal professionals for those who want law help. If you want to hire a lawyer, you could ask friends for referrals or, if appropriate, use the Referral Directory for Low-Income Texans.
In many cases, however, a couple does not need a lawyer at all to proceed with a Texas divorce. Disagreements about assets, debts, children, and more could potentially be resolved through mediation.
You and your partner work with a trained professional, discussing topics blocking your path to divorce. This process is often less expensive and more effective than traditional courtroom battles.
What are the steps to file for divorce in Texas?
To file for divorce means you’ll start with negotiations with your spouse that end in the legal dissolution of your marriage. You must complete three steps to file for a divorce:
1. Fill out starting paperwork
Texas requires one person to fill out an Original Petition for Divorce form to begin the process. Choose from one of the three following versions, depending on your marriage and circumstances:
Fill out the form completely, and make two copies of it. You'll need all three for the next step.
Two more forms are required for your divorce, including the following:
2. Bring your forms to the courthouse
Find the courthouse in your county, and bring all of your forms with you. Find the clerk's office, and deliver your forms. You must pay a filing fee, and the amount varies. If you're concerned about cost, call the courthouse before your visit and ask.
After the clerk accepts your documents and stamps them, your paperwork is officially filed. But you have one more important step to complete.
3. Notify your spouse
Your spouse must be served a divorce summons through a third party. You could use a professional process server for this, or you could ask a sheriff to bring the official forms to your spouse.
Understanding financial disclosures in Texas
People make many decisions during divorce, and many of them involve money. To facilitate those discussions, Texas laws require both sides to share official information about their assets and debts. These are called financial disclosures, and they are a standard part of the divorce process in most situations across the country.
Within 30 days, you must disclose information about the following:
- Property, including rentals
- Bank, savings, and other financial accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Insurance policies, including life, health, and casualty
Typically, you're required to provide supporting documents that stretch back for two years so your spouse has a complete picture of your financial health.
With financial disclosures complete, your divorce will be well underway.
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ReferencesI Need a Divorce. We Do Not Have Minor Children. (October 2022). Texas Law Help.
Filing a Divorce Without Children. (January 2023). Texas Law Help.
Can't Afford a Lawyer? Texas Judicial Branch.
Required Initial Disclosures. (December 2022). Texas Law Help.