Texas Divorce Laws
- Key facts about divorce laws
- Residency requirements for a divorce
- Do you need to prove legal grounds for divorce?
- How do you file for divorce?
- Process to file for an uncontested divorce
- How are divorce issues handled within the court system?
- How mediation impacts the divorce process
- Cost to file for divorce
- Ending your divorce
- How to end a domestic partnership
Texas laws govern marriage and divorce. Forms start the divorce process, and you’re finished when you file documents with the clerk at least two months later.
Keep reading to find out how Texas divorce laws work and what you can do to take advantage of them and support your future.
Key facts about Texas divorce laws
Texas laws require people to wait at least 60 days between filing divorce paperwork and finalizing their divorce. You can't speed up this process.
You're not required to hire a lawyer to file for divorce in Texas or respond to a divorce petition. All the required forms are available online, and if you are comfortable doing so, you can fill them out and file them without help.
Texas recognizes common-law marriages, but there is no common-law divorce. If you're involved in a common-law union, you must go through a standard divorce process when you split.
You can cite discord or conflict of personalities as grounds for divorce, and your spouse can't block the divorce if they disagree. This type of no-fault divorce will move forward even if your spouse doesn't want it to.
What are the residency requirements for a Texas divorce?
Texas courts will process divorce for people who meet two specific residency requirements.
Those residency requirements include the following:
- One of you must live in Texas for at least the last six months.
- One of you must live in the county where you file for divorce for at least the last 90 days.
You can't file for a divorce in Texas if you don't meet these two requirements.
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Do you need to prove legal grounds for divorce in Texas?
In some states, you must prove that someone did something wrong that ended your marriage. Texas is different. In this no-fault state, you can cite one reason for your divorce that the other party can’t contest.
In Texas, you can cite “discord or conflict of personalities” on your divorce paperwork as the reason for your divorce. Your split will move forward even if the other party doesn’t agree. If one spouse wants a divorce, the judge will grant it.
How do you file for divorce in Texas?
One partner (the Petitioner) files for divorce from the other (the Respondent) to start the divorce process. The following steps are involved:
1. Fill out starting paperwork
The Original Petition for Divorce begins your divorce. Choose from one of the three following versions, fill it out, and make two copies:
Two more forms are required, including the following:
2. File your forms
Bring your completed forms to the courthouse in your county, pay a fee, and file them. The clerk will stamp them and give the stamped version of the Original Petition for Divorce back to you.
3. Serve forms on your spouse
You must serve your spouse with a divorce summons. Many people do this by hiring a professional process server.
For more in-depth information, read How to Serve Your Spouse with Divorce Papers in Texas.
4. Share financial data
Texas laws require you to share financial data with your spouse within 30 days of filing for divorce. This is called the financial disclosure process. It's necessary in order for your marital assets and debts to be divided as evenly as possible.
Fill out the Required Initial Disclosures in Dissolution of Marriage form, and give it to your spouse.
For more in-depth information, we suggest that you read Financial Disclosures in Texas: What You Need to Know.
What's the process to file for an uncontested divorce in Texas?
In an uncontested divorce, both people agree to split and work together to separate their assets debts. They also agree to work together in deciding custody of the children. Complete the following steps after filing for divorce.
1. Fill out final documents
Work with your partner to complete your final divorce decree. Choose one of the three following versions:
If you share children, fill out the following documents, too:
In some counties, a legal expert must review these documents before you go to court. The clerk in the courthouse can tell you if it's mandatory where you're filing.
2. Sign your documents
After the paperwork is completed and reviewed (as needed), you and your spouse must sign the documents. Bring them with you to your court date, which typically happens 60 days after you file for divorce.
3. Plead your case in court
The clerk will likely set a court date. Both you and your spouse must appear in front of the judge. If the judge agrees with the terms you've outlined, the judge will sign the paperwork at the end of the hearing.
4. File your documents
Bring signed documents to the clerk's office and file them. At this point, your divorce is finalized.
How are divorce issues handled within the Texas court system?
Texas laws specify how people split assets, debts, and other responsibilities during a divorce. The following common issues are handled during a divorce:
Texas is a community property state, meaning assets and debts are divided equally between both parties during a divorce.
Your bank account balance, property, major purchases, and debts are split 50/50 per Texas laws. Lines in your final divorce decree allow you to specify who keeps either part after you set up different households.
Parents must decide where a child will live and who will make decisions for the child after a divorce. Texas laws don't prefer a mother over a father during a divorce. Instead, courts look closely at what's best for a child.
And courts often work to find a way to support a child's relationship with both parents through visitation agreements. The best interest of the child is always the primary goal.
Judges use two factors to determine appropriate child support payments, including how much money you make and how many children are involved.
With each child, your percentage of income goes to the other parent in a formula that looks like this:
- One child: 20%
- Two children: 25%
- Three children: 30%
- Four children: 35%
- Five children: 40%
- Six or more children: At least 40%
If your monthly income is not larger than $1,000, the guidelines are lowered by 5%. But otherwise, these rules apply.
Texas laws recognize two types of spousal support: contractual (agreements made outside the courtroom) and maintenance (set by the courts). Collaborating spouses can make individual agreements, but the courts can do so during the divorce hearing if they can't come to terms on their own.
How does mediation impact the divorce process in Texas?
Mediation involves working with a professional on issues impeding a straightforward divorce. For Texas families, mediation can be incredibly helpful.
Texas allows people to fill out forms and submit them without a lawyer. Hiring a mediator can mean collaborating on these forms without going to court to argue for a solution to each point of disagreement. You could save both money and time with this process.
Mediation is also a less conflict-filled way to end a marriage. Instead of saying hurtful things in court, you will work on solutions together. If you share children, mediation could help you preserve your relationship, making your ongoing collaboration to raise children easier.
How much does it cost to file for divorce in Texas?
In Texas, counties can set filing fees. You can call the clerk’s office in your county and ask what the filing fees are before you arrive. But on average, people pay between $250 to $350 to file initial divorce papers with the Texas court system.
Ending your divorce in Texas
A judge will sign your final divorce paperwork at the end of your divorce hearing. You must file those documents with the county clerk to end your divorce process. If you skip this step, your divorce won't be final.
How to end a domestic partnership in Texas
Some counties in Texas recognize domestic partnerships, but not all of them do. Check with your local county clerk if you've entered a domestic partnership and are unsure if your county recognizes it. You may be able to fill out a notice of termination that could make the division of your assets easier. A lawyer is not necessarily needed, but you may consult an attorney for advice specific to your situation.
Hello Divorce is well-versed in Texas family law, and we have a menu of online divorce plans and services that can help you divorce with as little stress and expense as possible. Schedule a free 15-minute informational call to learn more.
ReferencesI Need a Divorce. We Do Not Have Minor Children. (October 2022). Texas Law Help.
Family Code, Title 1, Subtitle C, Chapter 6, Subchapter A. (September 2021). State of Texas.
Filing for Divorce with Children. (February 2023). Texas Law Help.
Community Property. (September 2022). Texas Law Help.
Family Code, Title 5, Subtitle B, Chapter 154, Subchapter A. State of Texas.
Changing a Child Support Order. (January 2023). Texas Law Help.
Court Fees and Fee Waivers. (February 2023). Texas Law Help.
The Cost of Divorce: How Much Do You Pay to Get Divorced in California vs. Colorado? (January 2020). USA Today.