Typically, a divorce is an emotional and difficult time for all parties involved. It is understandable that you may want your divorce proceedings to be over and completed as quickly as possible. However, the outcome and decisions made in your divorce are likely to have serious and long-lasting impacts on the future of both you and your family.
A skilled divorce attorney can help you to navigate the process as efficiently as possible, while ensuring that all elements are addressed adequately and with your best interests at the forefront of everything.
The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC prides itself on experienced and aggressive representation that will achieve the best outcome for you in your divorce. The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC family law attorneys will both advocate for you and advise you on how to achieve the most timely divorce possible. They will also help you fight for the best settlement possible for you and your family.
The Duration of the Divorce Process in Texas
After the initial filing of divorce papers, in most cases, there is a mandatory waiting period after the divorce has been filed. In Texas, this is 60 days. These 60 days are to provide both parties with the opportunity to change their minds and not proceed with the divorce if they wish.
There are some exemptions to the waiting period, including if a spouse has been convicted of a crime involving domestic abuse or personal injury against you or a household member, or if there is an active protection order against you or your spouse as a result of domestic violence.
It is possible that an uncontested divorce can be completed within 3-4 weeks in Texas. However, on average, it is safe to assume around six months when asking how long it takes to get a divorce in Texas. The duration of divorce proceedings relies on a couple’s ability to reach an agreement on terms. If an agreement cannot be reached, then the final step is a trial in a family law court. This is likely to extend the time taken to complete the divorce.
The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC attorneys are experts in negotiation. We will provide you with the best representation to achieve an agreement that reflects your needs and doesn’t prolong divorce proceedings any longer than absolutely necessary for the desired outcome.
Divorce Procedures in Texas
To begin the divorce process in Texas, you will initially file a divorce petition with your local court. In an uncontested divorce, you will work with your spouse to develop a proposed divorce decree, outlining agreed-upon divorce terms and file this with the court. If both parties are willing to sign the decree and the Judge has no questions, then the divorce will be finalized.
In a contested divorce however, where spouses do not agree on terms, the next step is a temporary orders hearing. Here you will present evidence and testimony in favor of the outcome that you are hoping for. The aim of this step is to ensure that you have sufficient financial resources and that both parents have access to their children, until the divorce process is completed. The temporary arrangements will be outlined in your temporary order documents.
Following this, it is likely that you and your spouse will undergo mediation to agree upon key elements of the divorce, such as property division and child custody and support. Once an agreement is reached, these will be outlined in a proposed decree and presented to a Judge. The final step of your divorce is for all of these arrangements to be finalized by a Judge in your divorce decree. Once this has been signed by the Judge, you are officially divorced.
A Texas divorce decree is a court order. If either spouse fails to abide by their divorce decree, they can be held in contempt of court, fined, ordered to pay the other spouse’s attorney fees, and even put in jail.
Having an experienced divorce lawyer with you throughout your divorce process can ensure that the terms outlined in your divorce decree are the best possible terms for you and the circumstances of your divorce.
Filing for Divorce
Divorce, or marriage dissolution, in Texas begins when a spouse files divorce paperwork with the court. After you file for divorce and begin the divorce process, your spouse has until the next Monday 20 days from the original date that they were served divorce papers, to respond. Your spouse may respond with a counter-petition and outline the most desirable divorce terms to them.
If your spouse does not respond within the allotted time frame, they may lose their right to argue their preferred terms, including aspects of the divorce such as spousal support and asset division.
After your spouse has filed their response to the original divorce petition, you will likely both undertake mediation with a third party to find divorce terms that you can both agree upon. Mediation can cover all elements involved in your divorce, such as how marital property is divided, child support and child custody arrangements, and spousal support. Once both spouses have agreed upon all terms, a Judge will sign the divorce decree, which finalizes your divorce.
If issues within the divorce are contested, and spouses cannot come to an agreement, there may be a need for a number of court hearings where both parties will present evidence to support their proposed divorce terms. Your divorce lawyer will work with you to collate this evidence and undertake discovery to find further evidence to support your arguments.
Division of Property
Texas is a community property state. This means that all property acquired within the duration of the marriage is considered as joint, marital property in Texas divorce law, unless there is a prenuptial agreement in place that outlines otherwise.
Texas community property law extends to include a range of assets, such as cars, boats, stocks, jewelry, money, and real estate. Beyond assets, community property also applies to marital debt, and includes mortgages, credit card debt, leases, and bank loans, to name a few.
Texas is also a just and right division state, which means that both spouses have a right to a ‘fair’ proportion of the marital estate. However, a range of factors can influence a court’s decision on what constitutes a ‘fair’ proportion, and it is uncommon that this means an exactly equal division of property. Considerations include the financial status and earning potential of both parties and if either party is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, such as committing adultery.
All community property is subject to negotiation for division during a divorce. Separate property, however, is not. Separate property is typically considered as assets that were acquired by a spouse prior to the marriage. Community property laws in Texas may also consider some assets, such as inheritance and gifts, and personal injury compensation as separate property. However, this is only if the finances have been kept separate from community property. A skilled attorney will be able to guide you through these complex negotiations and fight to achieve a fair settlement for you and your property.
During mediation, a couple may not agree on what equates to a fair division of property. As such, your divorce attorney can assist with these negotiations, highlight weaknesses in your spouse’s argument, and secure the best possible outcome of property division in the settlement for you.
Spousal support, or spousal maintenance, can only be awarded by a Judge in Texas under specific circumstances. Two criteria must be fulfilled, the spouse requesting support must not have enough property to provide for ‘minimal reasonable needs’, and they must also satisfy one of the following:
- The spouse requested to provide support was recently convicted of domestic violence against the other spouse, or the couple’s children.
- The requesting spouse is not able to earn enough to meet minimal reasonable needs as a result of an incapacitating disability or due to substantial caring responsibilities to a child in their custody.
- The marriage has lasted for over 10 years and the spouse requesting support is not able to earn a sufficient amount to meet minimal reasonable needs, despite best efforts to do so.
If your divorce is an at-fault divorce, for example, where adultery or domestic violence is able to be proven to the court, it is possible that this may have an impact on a Judge’s decision to award spousal support, specifically on the amount and duration of support.
The main goal of Texas child custody laws is to ensure that a divorcing couple reach an agreement on child custody that is in the best interests of the child or children concerned. Typically, Texas family law assumes that joint managing conservatorship, where both parents share rights and duties related to the care of decision-making of their child, is in the best interests of the child.
There are exceptions to this rule, where a child is thought to be in danger from a parent, or if a parent cannot meet the caring needs of that child. To alter legal custody arrangements, additional evidence will need to be presented to the court to support your claims and prove that an amended custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child.
In addition to establishing custody, during a divorce, spouses must also establish visitation rights to their children. In Texas, a standard possession order is typically used by courts which is outlined in the Texas Family Code; this gives both parents as much time as possible with the child or children.
However, this standard possession order may not meet the specific requirements of your family. If this is the case, your family lawyer will assist you to re-negotiate this order to secure an arrangement suited to your family circumstances.
The main considerations when a court is determining child support payments in Texas are the income of the parent paying the support, the number of children involved, and some specific additional expenses. In most cases, the parent that does not have main custody of the child or children, or the ‘noncustodial’ parent, is the one that will pay child support, although sometimes a Judge will order both parents to support a child.
Other factors that are considered when determining child support payments include any spousal support that is being paid, the age of the children, childcare expenses, the custodial parent’s resources, and the time each parent spends with the child or children.
A skilled family law attorney is key to helping you through the process of establishing child support. They will ensure that all possible supporting evidence is presented to the Judge and that the circumstances and needs of you and your family are adequately considered in the settlement.
What Complications Might Make a Divorce Take Longer?
In order to achieve a successful divorce and negotiation, and to develop divorce terms that both parties can agree upon, frequent and effective communication between spouses is essential. However, especially in contested divorces, disagreements often arise and communication can break down, hindering the process. In these circumstances, your family law attorney can help you to address this legally.
Child Custody Arrangements
Child custody is one of the main areas for contention between spouses in divorces in Texas. Although it is assumed that a couple will be awarded joint managing conservatorship, evidence can be presented to the court by either spouse that would potentially sway this decision. In contested divorces, couples may not always agree that joint conservatorship is the right approach for their family.
Although the court typically favors joint custody, if compelling evidence is provided to the court that joint custody is not in the best interests of the child, the final decision lies with the Judge. When addressing such a sensitive and emotionally charged subject, it is always best to have an experienced family lawyer represent you, to see that the best interests of your child or children are prioritized.
High Asset Divorces
When dividing assets during a divorce, spouses need to reach agreements that are then outlined in court orders detailing the division of every element of the marital estate, including the family home, stocks and shares, pensions, family businesses and even debt.
When couples have a high net worth, this process becomes far more complicated and it is essential that you have an attorney to help you navigate this. The outcome of these decisions is likely to have large financial implications on you and your family for the rest of your lives and legal representation is key.
During divorce negotiations within a contested divorce, some spouses create allegations in order to sway the negotiations in their favor. Should this happen to you, your attorney will gather the evidence required to dispute these claims and represent you fairly, so that you do not receive unfair treatment as a result of false allegations.
In an uncontested divorce, after filing the divorce petition and the mandatory waiting period, a hearing will be scheduled to review the divorce agreement. You and your spouse will work cooperatively, without the need for formal mediation to review assets and outline the agreed division of property and child custody and support arrangements in a proposed divorce decree. If each spouse has agreed to the terms and is willing to sign the decree, there will be no requirement for a trial or to appear in court.
An uncontested divorce is the best-case scenario, and they are completed faster than contested divorces. However, if at any point during your uncontested divorce, you become unsure, always seek legal representation to ensure that your rights are protected.
Unfortunately, during the divorce process, it can be challenging for spouses to reach agreements. A substantial part of a divorce relies upon negotiation, leading towards an agreement that outlines the final terms of the divorce.
Understandably, emotions run high in divorces and more often than not, spouses are not amicable and willing to meet the other’s divorce terms. As such, contested divorces are commonplace.
With a contested divorce, each spouse will need a divorce lawyer to achieve the best chance at navigating any potential complications and getting a final result as close to their original terms as possible. A contested divorce can be a lengthy and costly process, if an agreement can not be reached during the negotiation phase, then the case will be taken to trial in a family law court.
A skilled attorney to support your negotiations will offer you the best chance at achieving your desired outcome and avoiding unnecessary delays.
Some individuals considering divorce, choose to go ahead with a legal separation instead. In this process, a married couple choose to live apart from each other but remain married in the eyes of the law. This still requires spouses to undertake formal legal proceedings under family law to amend the marital relationship, however it is not officially a divorce.
Many couples choose a legal separation to enable both parties to maintain life or health insurance benefits, or for religious beliefs. If legally separated, neither spouse can remarry.
The state of Texas however, does not recognize legal separation. Meaning that until a divorce has officially taken place, a couple is still considered as married under Texas law. This will remain the case until the final signing of the divorce papers is completed by the court.
What is the Difference Between a No-Fault Divorce and an At-Fault Divorce?
Texas is a no-fault divorce state, and unlike some states, Texas law recognizes both at fault and no-fault divorces. This means that you can decide on which approach is best suited to your circumstances. Although the divorce timeline and time that each type of divorce may take could be a consideration, it should not be the only deciding factor when choosing the right approach for you.
Divorce attorneys at The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC are skilled in assisting our clients with evaluating their options carefully and choosing the most appropriate process for the most successful outcome for you.
In a no-fault divorce in Texas, neither spouse needs to prove any wrongdoing or that either party is at fault for the breakdown of the marital relationship. A spouse can cite irreconcilable differences between the couple as justification and no further proof is required for the divorce to be considered as no-fault.
A no-fault divorce can take much less time to complete, as there is no requirement to prove wrongdoing. However, this does not negate the potential complications that arise with a contested divorce when it comes to agreeing on the divorce terms and settlement.
At Fault Divorce
An at-fault divorce however, requires one spouse to prove to the court that the other spouse is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. In Texas, there are four recognized fault grounds: adultery, cruelty, federal convictions or abandonment. At-fault divorces are likely to be a long process due to the need to prove wrongdoing. However, if your spouse is found to be at fault by the court, this could sway the negotiations and final divorce terms in your favor.
Will I have to go to Court for my Divorce?
It is very unlikely that you will need to appear in court for an uncontested divorce, the main exception to this would be if the Judge has questions about the proposed divorce decree. In this case, this would be a short court appearance, called a ‘prove up’. If your decree is reasonable on both sides, this is unlikely.
However, in a contested divorce, if a couple can not reach an agreement through mediation, then the case will be taken to trial for a Judge to make the final decision. Our attorneys at The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC are experienced in preparing cases for trial and providing strong representation for the rights of our clients, both in the courtroom and during negotiations. If necessary, our skilled attorneys will not hesitate to fight for you in court.
Will I Need a Lawyer for my Divorce?
Texas divorce and family law can be complex. Although these laws are there to ensure that individuals receive fair treatment throughout the divorce process, without a trained lawyer, they can be difficult to navigate, with a range of approaches available to you. The process can then be made much more complicated in situations of contested or at-fault divorces, with additional elements such as child custody and the division of property to consider too.
For those considering divorce in Texas, strong legal representation from a reputable and experienced divorce lawyer is the best way for the rights of you and your family to be represented and fought for, to receive the best settlement from your divorce.
Work with The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC for your Divorce
Not only will your Love DuCote Law Firm LLC attorney represent you and fight for you during your divorce, we are also advisors that will guide you through the many options and complexities that can arise during the divorce process.
Our goal is to find the best course of action that is most likely to result in success for you and your family.