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How to Apply for a Divorce in Texas

The process of filing for a Texas divorce can seem daunting. You might wonder how long it takes, what documents are required, and whether you'll have to pay a lawyer. Fortunately, there are ways to make the process easier. For example, you don't have to file your petition in person; you can mail it instead. And you don't have to hire a lawyer right away. Instead, you can ask your spouse for information and advice about your case.

Texas residency requirements qualify you for an uncontested divorce in Texas. If you meet those requirements, you can file for divorce without having to go to court. To determine if you qualify for an uncontested divorce, check out the following questions:

  • Did both parties live in Texas during the 12 months prior to the date you filed your divorce papers?
  • Are either party's parents still living in Texas?
  • Have either party been married before?
  • Is one party disabled?

You can find additional resources online to learn more about the process of filing for a no-fault divorce in Texas.

What to Do Before Filing for Divorce in Texas

Before filing for divorce in Texas, it's important to know what documents are needed and how long you have to wait to file.

The process begins with completing a form called a Petition for Determination of Spousal Support. This document must be filed with the court within six months of the date the final decree of divorce becomes effective. If you're married for less than three months, you don't have to file anything; however, if you've been married longer than three months, you still need to file the petition.

Next up is getting divorced. The rules regarding residency vary depending on where you live. For example, you must be physically present in Texas for at least 90 days prior to filing for divorce. You also cannot file for divorce while living out of state unless you plan to return to Texas during the pendency of the case.

A person seeking a divorce must file a motion stating that he/she meets the residency requirement. A judge will decide whether the person qualifies based on the evidence presented. Once the judge decides that the person does qualify, the person will receive a certificate showing that he/she is eligible to file for divorce.

If you fail to comply with the residency requirement, you won't be able to file for divorce. In addition, if you move out of state without telling your spouse, you could be charged with contempt of court.

Qualifying for Uncontested Divorce in Texas

An uncontested divorce is a divorce where the parties reach a final agreement regarding their financial obligations, property division, and parenting plan. An uncontested divorce can save you money because there are fewer court hearings and less paperwork.

To qualify for an uncontested divorce in Texas, you must meet four requirements:

Both spouses must agree that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. You cannot prove either party committed adultery; Your spouse does not contest the validity of your marriage; Neither of you filed for bankruptcy within six months of filing for divorce.

If you meet those conditions, you can file for an uncontested dissolution of marriage. If you meet the four requirements listed above, you can ask for help from a lawyer in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, to help you prepare the necessary documents, but the cost of doing so will be covered by your attorney fees. Contact us today for a free consultation.

The most common reason people decide to pursue an uncontested divorce is that they do not want to go through the hassle of fighting over finances or custody issues. They simply want to move forward with their lives and start rebuilding their relationships.

You can find more information about how to obtain an uncontested divorce in our guide.

Preparing Your Texas Divorce Forms

The Supreme Court of Texas recently published a list of approved forms for uncontested divorces. You can download the forms here. If you want to use one of those forms, you'll need to fill out certain sections based on your situation. For example, the form for uncontested divorces without minor children requires you to answer questions about marital assets like bank accounts, retirement plans, vehicles, etc., as well as information about how much money each party earns.

Filing and Serving Your Divorce Forms in Texas

Once you've assembled and completed the necessary forms for divorce in Texas — including the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, Declaration of Intention, Waiver of Service of Process, and Financial Disclosure Form — you'll want to file them with the court. If you do, you'll need to make sure that you're able to afford the cost of doing so.

For instance, if you qualify for a waiver because you cannot afford to pay the filing fee, you could still save money by filling out the Statement of Inability to Pay Court Costs to form online. This form asks for basic personal information such as name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, telephone number, email address, driver's license number, and employer identification number. After submitting it, you'll receive a receipt stating whether you qualified for a waiver or not.

If you don't qualify for a waiver, however, you'll need to fill out a separate form called a "Statement of Inability to Affirm," which explains why you're unable to pay the filing fee.

After completing both forms, mail them to the county where you live, along with a check or money order for the appropriate filing fee. Be sure to include enough postage to cover mailing costs.

Giving Notice of Your Divorce in Texas

The following information applies to residents of Texas. You must give your spouse actual notice of the divorce proceedings within three days of filing the petition. This includes giving your spouse a copy of the petition, notice of the hearing date, and Respondent's Original Answer. You cannot use service by publication to give notice unless you have been unable to locate your spouse despite diligent efforts.

If you choose to use the service by publication, you must make arrangements to pay for the cost of publishing the notice. You must publish the notice once each week for four consecutive weeks in a newspaper published in the county where your spouse resides. You must include the name and address of your spouse, the style number of the suit, and the date of publication. You must mail a copy of the published notice to your spouse at his or her residence.

You must serve your spouse within three months after you file your petition. Otherwise, you lose jurisdiction over the property and issues related to child custody, visitation, support, and division of assets.

Next Steps in Your Texas Divorce

After you've filed and served the divorce petition, the next step depends on whether your case is contested or uncontested. In an uncontested divorce (meaning both parties agree to the terms of the divorce), the respondent must either file a response or return a waiver of service. Both spouses must also sign the final decree of divorce form.

To save time, you may file the completed form along with the original paperwork. If the respondent files an Answer, however, the spouses must exchange Initial Disclosures, including certain information and documentation about their property, retirement accounts, and other financial matters, within 30 days after the Answer was filed.

Unless the spouses have a written extension, the exchanges must occur before the trial date set in the divorce action. An extension can be requested up to 60 days before the scheduled hearing date.

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