If you’re planning on getting a divorce in Texas, you want to make sure you know everything there is to know. Being knowledgeable will ensure that you get a fair outcome whether you’re the one filing or not.
It’s also important to ask questions about your divorce so that you know what to do if certain situations arise. These can include questions about alimony, child support, or anything else you may want to know about your divorce proceedings.
If you’re preparing for a divorce in Texas, here are ten things you should know as well answers to some frequently asked questions when it comes to getting a divorce in Texas.
1. Community property accrues until the divorce is final.
Many people don’t realize that with Texas divorce cases, any community property doesn’t get split when you file for divorce. It will continue to accumulate until the final divorce date. This is important because it can have major financial implications on both ends.
2. Juries hear divorce cases in Texas.
In many states, juries do not hear divorce cases. But, in Texas, this is possible, although uncommon. Either side can ask for a jury for their divorce or custody case. If this happens, the court is obligated to comply. If you find yourself in this situation, you’ll want to have an experienced Texas divorce attorney trying your case.
3. Custody can be awarded to either parent, not just the mother.
Many people have the misconception that child custody is always awarded to the mom. Due to different circumstances on either side, custody of minor children can be awarded to either parent. The court will look at the current living situation as well as other factors to determine who will have custody.
4. Child support will be awarded no matter how much time is spent with the child.
Even if the child spends equal time with both parents, child support will still likely be awarded to one parent. Child support is based on income, not time spent with the child. If one spouse makes a great deal more than the other, child support will be awarded to the spouse who makes less.
5. Children don’t decide who they want to live with.
If you think you’re going to let your child decide which parent to live with, think again. In Texas, children under 18 can’t decide who they want to live with. They can tell the court who they would prefer, but that doesn’t mean they’ll get to live with that parent.
6. There is no alimony in Texas.
While Texas does not have alimony, it does have something called spousal maintenance. Not many people qualify for this especially if assets are awarded in a divorce case. It’s also limited to how much time it can be given.
7. Property is considered joint at the time of divorce.
Any money, houses, cars, or anything else that was part of the marriage is considered community property. Only things you brought into the marriage or what you may have inherited are considered solely yours. Those assets won’t be considered when assets are divided. It’s up to each party to determine what is separate property and what is joint.
8. Not all divorces are classified as no-fault.
In Texas, committing adultery, domestic violence, or abuse can be used as grounds to declare a fault divorce. It’s important to distinguish why you’re asking for a divorce when getting a divorce in Texas so it can be classified as fault or no-fault.
9. Pre and post-marital agreements will be looked at.
If you have a prenuptial agreement or a post-nuptial agreement, that will be looked at to determine certain aspects of your divorce. They are pretty common in Texas and are binding in the court. These agreements are used for property issues and have nothing to do with children. Custody issues cannot be influenced by either of these agreements.
10. Property and assets don’t have to be divided equally.
The law states that any division of marital property must follow a “just and equitable distribution”, but it doesn’t state that everything has to be split down the middle. The judge will decide exactly how the assets and debts will be distributed. It may end up that things are split or equally or one party may get more than the other.
These are just some of the important things to know when getting a divorce in Texas. There are other questions many people have when filing for divorce. Property and children are typically the two biggest categories that people are concerned about. It’s important to know what can happen before entering divorce court or signing any papers. These documents are legal and binding and will have a great impact on your future and your children’s.
FAQ About Getting a Divorce in Texas
Here are several frequently asked questions about getting a divorce in Texas.
What are the steps when getting a divorce in Texas?
The spouse who files for divorce is known as the petitioner. He or she has divorce papers served to the other spouse who is referred to as the respondent. If the spouses are on good terms and working together, the respondent can sign a waiver and won’t be personally served with divorce papers.
When the divorce papers are filed, the petitioner spouse can request that the court issue a standard Temporary Restraining Order that requires that both spouses act civilly toward one another and that no assets disappear before the court divides them.
If spouses don’t have all of the divorce-related information they need, divorce discovery may begin. This is the process where both parties exchange information and documents. Once all of the relevant information is received, both parties can decide to work on an agreement together or get help from attorneys or a mediator.
Once an agreement is reached, a divorce decree will be drawn up. Once both spouses and their attorneys sign it, the judge will eventually review it and put it into the final divorce order.
If no agreement can be reached, a trial date will be set where a judge will work through the couple’s issues. When the trial is over, a final decree of divorce will be issued for both parties to look over and sign. This will contain all of the court’s rulings and orders for the divorce which will be binding and will need to be followed.
What are the Grounds for Divorce in Texas?
In Texas, “no-fault” divorces are allowed. This means neither spouse has to blame the other for the demise of the marriage. In a no-fault divorce, the petitioning spouse will cite a conflict of personalities that ultimately leads to the end of the marriage. Spouses can also cite that they have lived apart for at least three years. This is another reason that falls into the no-fault category.
If one spouse is at fault for the divorce, it can play into what’s fair when it comes to dividing assets and property. Grounds for a fault divorce in Texas include:
- A felony conviction or being in prison for at least one year
- Confinement to a mental hospital for at least three years
Can I get a quickie divorce in Texas?
While your divorce shouldn’t be drawn out for months (although that is a possibility), you can’t be divorced in a week. It takes a minimum of 60 days to get divorced in Texas because that is the mandatory waiting period in the Lone Star state. Also, one of the spouses has to be a Texas resident for six continuous months before filing for divorce. One of the spouses must also reside in the county where the divorce is filed for at least 90 days before filing.
Once I file, will the court order any initial guidelines?
It is possible, so be prepared. Some initial orders can be about topics like closing bank accounts, getting rid of credit cards, life insurance policies, and taking children out of state.
How is our living situation handled once I file?
If both parties can’t agree, temporary orders will be issued as to who lives where and when. These orders may also deal with vehicle possession, who has the children, temporary child, and spousal support, and even who has to care for the family pets.
Can I get temporary spousal support in Texas while our case is pending?
You may receive temporary spousal support if one spouse is unemployed or earning significantly less than the other. Since there are no guidelines for temporary spousal support, you should be ready to show what your needs are as well as that your spouse has the resources to meet those needs.
Once the divorce is filed and temporary orders are established, is our divorce heard immediately?
Many cases don’t go to divorce court. They are usually settled with mediation or with both parties agreeing to arrangements out of court. Going to court is usually the last resort. When getting a divorce in Texas, it’s often recommended that both parties work out their issues so they can avoid going to court.
Will my medical, phone, and email records and social media accounts be looked at during my divorce?
It’s best to assume so. Social media accounts can be looked into, so many people are told to be careful what they post. Posts about what they may be doing, especially if they’re dating already, can become problematic. These types of things can be used as evidence in divorce proceedings. A judge may also ask to see your medical records.
How is child support determined?
Child support is defined in the Texas Family Code. Typically, the parent who has to pay child support must pay 20 percent of their net income for one child and 25% for two. The amount increases by five percent for each additional child up to 40 percent.
Can I stay on my spouse’s health insurance after divorce?
Your spouse is not required to pay for your health insurance. You may have to pay for your health insurance which can get expensive. When getting a divorce in Texas it’s important to be aware of these issues because they can impact your budget and other aspects of your life.
When does the judge sign off on my divorce?
After both parties agree on the divorce, one spouse must appear in front of the judge before the divorce is finalized. This typically doesn’t take long. This is usually when the judge will sign off on the divorce.
These are just some of the important things to know before you get a divorce. Working with an experienced law firm like the team at Jimenez Family Law can help you get a fair resolution when it comes to getting a divorce in Texas. If you need more information about divorce, the divorce process, or Texas laws regarding divorce, reach out to a qualified divorce lawyer.