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Divorce Laws in Texas: Things You Need To Know

Texas is one of the most populous states in the United States, and it's home to over 30 million people. With such a large population, it's no surprise that many Texans are getting divorced. In fact, according to the latest data from the US Census Bureau, about 5% of married couples in the state filed for divorce in 2017.

While some divorces happen because of irreconcilable differences, others occur due to infidelity, abuse, or even death. Regardless of why you decide to file for divorce, you'll likely face a number of different challenges along the way. This includes dealing with the emotional toll that being separated takes on both parties, figuring out how to split up property and debts, and finding a lawyer who understands the process. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do now to make sure that you don't end up in a situation where you're forced to go through a messy, drawn-out court battle.

Working with a financial advisor can help you figure out what assets you might be able to keep separate from your ex. You can also consider setting up a trust fund for your children, which could provide additional protection for them down the road.

Finally, it's important to know that while you may be legally entitled to alimony, it's often difficult to receive it in practice. For example, if you live in California, you may be eligible for support payments under the Family Code, but that won't necessarily translate into actual cash coming into your bank account. To learn more about the laws surrounding alimony in your state, check out our article here.

How to File for Divorce in Texas

If you're thinking about getting divorced in Texas, it might be worth considering whether or not you qualify. If you do qualify, then you'll want to know where you can file for divorce in Texas.

To be eligible to file for a divorce in any county in the state of Texas, at least one person needs to have lived in that county for at least ninety consecutive days. However, if both people live in the same county, then either one could file for divorce in that county.

You'll also have to meet certain residency requirements. If you've been living in the state for less than six months, then you won't be able to file for divorce in the state of Texas. If you've been residing in the state for less than six months, then you'll want a copy of your driver's license or passport showing that you've been a resident of the state for six months.

The last thing you'll want to consider is how long you plan to remain married. If you plan to move out of the state, then you'll want your divorce finalized quickly because you'll no longer be considered a resident of the state. In fact, you'll probably want to file for divorce immediately upon moving out of the state.

Process for a Divorce

Texas law allows for a quick and simple divorce procedure. A couple must file paperwork with the court within six months of separation. This includes filing a petition for divorce and serving the other spouse with notice of the proceeding. If the spouses agree on everything except the division of property, the court will assign values based on the value of the home, cars, bank accounts, retirement plans, and other items. Then it’s up to the judge to decide how much each person gets.

The petitioner is the spouse who filed for divorce. He or she can ask the court for a temporary restraining order, which prevents either party from disappearing assets. In addition, the court can require the other spouse to pay child support while the case proceeds.

How to Split Up Assets During a Divorce in Texas

In Texas, the courts presume all property and income that each spouse earns during the marriage belongs equally to each person. This means that the state assumes that half of everything earned during the marriage goes to the husband and the other half goes to the wife. If you had a joint account during the marriage, it will be divided equally as well. However, if there are specific properties or items that you purchased during the marriage, those belong solely to you. You can claim them as separate property.

A court will also consider how much debt was accrued during the marriage. All debts that are incurred during the marriage will be divided equally between the parties. For example, if you took out a loan to buy a car, the bank will look at the total amount of money spent on the vehicle and divide that number by 2. As such, both parties will receive $50,000 worth of credit toward the loan. Any property or income that either party received prior to getting married will remain separate property.

Divorce and Estate Planning in Texas

Texas is one of those states where there’s no such thing as joint property. Everything belongs solely to either spouse. However, while married, spouses can agree to divide their assets during a divorce. If you decide to do that, though, make sure you know what you’re getting into. You could end up having to pay taxes on half of everything you own. And even worse, if you don't have a written agreement, you could find yourself stuck with the entire burden of paying off debts and splitting expenses.

If you want to avoid this situation, consider setting up an estate plan. A trust or living trust is a great way to ensure that your children inherit your possessions after you pass away.

Bottom Line

Texas is a no-fault state for divorces. If you think about it, most states are no-fault. In fact, even if one party files for divorce, the other side doesn't really have to do anything. But there are certain things that courts look at when dividing up marital property. For example, if you make $50k/year and your spouse makes $100k/year, the judge might decide that half of those earnings belong to each person. Or, if you're both working full time, the judge might say that each person gets 50% of whatever salary they earn.

An experienced divorce attorney in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, can provide guidance and offer advice throughout the entire process. Contact us today at www.thorntonesquirelawgroup.com for a free consultation.

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