Texas divorce laws cover alimony, property distribution, child support, child custody, state requirements and more. Texas divorce laws are complex. With the help of a local Texas divorce lawyer, get legal divorce advice about the Texas divorce process.
For your convenience, the chart below summarizes a few of the key concepts of Texas's divorce laws:
Texas divorce courts accept both no fault and fault grounds for divorce.
When filing for divorce under no fault grounds, the petition must state that the marriage is insupportable due to discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation. Typically in no fault divorce, couples must recognize Texas divorce waiting periods before the divorce can become final.
In fault divorce, Texas divorce courts accept a number of grounds for divorce, including:
When filing for no fault or fault divorce, one spouse will need to meet the Texas residency requirement.
Texas divorce law has state residency requirements for divorce that either the petitioner or respondent must meet to file for divorce. The Texas divorce court will not accept a divorce petition unless either the petitioner or respondent has been both:
Typically, the divorce petition is filed in the county where the petitioner lives.
A person who has not been a resident of Texas but is serving in the armed forced of the United States can be considered a Texas domiciliary if he or she has been stationed at one or more military installations in the state for at least the last six months. The person will also be considered a resident of the county if he or she has been at a military installation in a county of the state for at least 90 days to file for divorce.
The state of Texas doesn't require a waiting period before filing for divorce. As long as the couple meets the Texas residency requirement, either spouse can file for divorce at any time. Once the divorce petition has been filed, Texas divorce law requires the couple to wait 60 days before the divorce process continues.
Texas is one of the few states that has a remarriage waiting period. After the divorce petition is finalized, both spouses must wait 30 days before remarrying, unless the Texas divorce court feels the circumstances of the divorce call for a different remarriage waiting period.
Under certain circumstances, an annulment may be possible for some couples. If a marriage is annulled, it's as if the marriage didn't exist because it was illegal under state law. Texas divorce courts may declare a marriage void and automatically annulled if:
A marriage is voidable and the Texas divorce court may grant an annulment if:
The divorce process can be expensive and complicated, which is why most state laws provide for alternative to divorce court. Many states encourage couples try an alternative dispute resolution to work through divorce if the spouses are able to get along to a certain degree.
One type of alternative dispute resolution is divorce arbitration. With written agreement from both spouses, the Texas divorce court may refer a divorce for arbitration. In the written agreement, the couple must specify whether the divorce arbitration will be binding or nonbinding. If the agreement developed in arbitration is binding, the Texas divorce court will follow the arbitrator's award.
Texas divorce law encourages couples to attempt divorce mediation, which can be initiated by either the divorcing parties or a Texas divorce court. If the couple comes up with a divorce settlement in mediation, the agreement is binding where both parties and divorce attorneys have signed the agreement and the agreement states the terms are irrevocable. The Texas divorce court may extend the divorce proceedings for an additional 60 days for proper marital counseling if it seems that reconciliation between the couple is possible.
Collaborative divorce is a process where the spouses and divorce attorneys make a written agreement to each use the best efforts and make a good faith attempt to resolve the divorce on an agreed basis. During the collaborative divorce process, the couple will not resort to judicial intervention unless to approve the divorce settlement, make legal pronouncements and sign orders that the Texas divorce court consider appropriate. The divorce attorneys representing the spouses can't serve as litigation counsel excepts to ask the divorce court to approve the settlement. The divorce agreement must also include how each party will exchange information, hire experts and other provisions.
Texas divorce courts allow alternative dispute resolution methods to be used in Texas child custody matters.
Under Texas divorce law, Texas is a community property state. All property and debt acquired from the start of the marriage until the end is considered community property. The Texas divorce court splits community assets during divorce equally between the two spouses if the couple is unable to reach a divorce settlement or if there isn't a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement.
Texas divorce courts will order a division of property that is deemed just and right. The divorce court will consider the rights of each party when assigning the following real and personal property acquired:
Texas divorce court will award the real and personal property to a spouse as separate property when the property was acquired by:
The following property is considered separate property of a spouse if partitioned or exchanged by written agreement of the spouses:
Texas property distribution depends on the circumstances of your divorce.
Alimony may also be called spousal support or maintenance. Under Texas divorce law, alimony is referred to as maintenance. The Texas divorce court may order maintenance for either spouse if the marriage lasted 10 years or longer.
Alimony is awarded based on the length of the marriage coupled with the fact that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property even after Texas property division to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs and the spouse seeking maintenance:
If the Texas divorce court determines that a spouse is eligible to receive alimony, the court will determine the nature, amount, duration and manner of periodic payments by considering factors like:
Texas divorce courts will limit the length of the maintenance payments to the shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse seeking maintenance to meet the spouse's minimum reasonable needs by obtaining appropriate employment or developing an appropriate skill.
Exceptions are possible if the ability of the receiving spouse's ability to provide for his or her needs through employment is substantially or totally diminished because of:
Under Texas divorce law, a divorce court may not order alimony that requires a spouse to pay monthly more than $2,500 or 20% of the spouse's average monthly gross income, whichever is the lesser of the two values. Texas alimony is terminated if the receiving spouse dies or remarries, and alimony may be modified if it can be proved there's a material and substantial change in the circumstances of either party.
When Texas divorce courts are deciding child custody, decisions are based on the key standard of what's in the best interest of the child. Under Texas divorce law, it's assumed that joint legal child custody, or conservatorship, is best for the child unless it's proven otherwise. To determine which parent has primary physical child custody, the Texas divorce court considers the following factors:
Texas divorce law will allow the parents to enter into a parenting plan to determine child custody. The divorce court will enforce the parenting plan as long as it's in the best interest of the child.
State divorce laws don't automatically grant visitation rights for grandparents, but most states allow grandparents to petition for child visitation rights. If a grandparents chooses to petition the court, a set of grandparent visitation and custody guidelines will be considered to determine what's in the best interest of the child.
If both parents of the child have died, the court may appoint grandparents or other family members as legal guardians or conservators of the child. A grandparent may request child custody or child visitation by filing a petition with the court. The court will order Texas child custody or child visitation rights to a grandparent if:
A biological or adoptive grandparent may not request child custody or visitation rights to a grandchild if:
To determine child support, Texas divorce courts use the percentage of income formula. The amount of child support is calculated as a percentage of the parent's income who is ordered to pay child support. To determine the percent of income the parent should pay in child support, the Texas divorce court factors in the number of children requiring support.
Under Texas divorce law, either or both parents may be ordered to pay child support - whether periodic, lump-sum or both. Specific official child support guidelines are outlined in Texas divorce law and are presumed reasonable and in the best interest of the child. The child support factors taken into consideration include:
The Texas divorce court may order either parent provide health insurance coverage for the child, as well as income withholding to help with Texas child support enforcement.
To modify child support in Texas, there must be a material and substantial change in the circumstances of a person affected by the order. It may also be able to petition for child support modification if it has been three years since the last child support order and a difference in monthly payment by either 20% or $100 from the child support guidelines.
Child support enforcement is a problem for most states trying to secure the financial future of children. To help collect unpaid child support, most states have set up child support enforcement agencies that have developed different enforcement techniques.
Under Texas divorce law if you haven't paid child support you could be facing a number of penalties, including:
Please understand that this information is provided for illustration purposes only and is not legal advice. Speak to a local divorce lawyer for more information about Texas divorce law and divorce process. Connect today by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out the divorce case review form below.
The above synopsis of Texas divorce laws is by no means all-inclusive and has been adapted from applicable state laws. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these divorce laws, please contact a local Texas divorce lawyer in your area.
This "Texas Divorce Laws" page was last updated May 2009.
Note: Keep in mind that all divorce laws are complex. If you need legal divorce advice or want to fully understand how these laws affect you, please speak with a local divorce attorney.