Divorce plays an instrumental role in helping two people move forward and find happiness after a difficult marriage. You may have several questions about what your life might look like if you decide to divorce in Texas. We can answer your questions and help you start the process. The Ted Smith Law Group, PLLC is dedicated to protecting civilian and military married individuals’ lives and helping them rediscover independence. Visit our military divorce page here.
Fault and No-Fault Divorce in Texas
Some states look at all divorces as no-fault. The Texas justice system recognizes both no-fault and at-fault divorces. No-fault divorces are those that take place because two individuals cannot reconcile their differences (insupportability) or have lived apart for three or more years.
Fault divorces arise when one party proves that the other is no longer fit to participate in the marriage. Grounds for fault divorces include cruelty, abandonment, felony convictions, adultery, and mental hospital confinement. Most divorce cases fall under the category of insupportability.
The Divorce Process in Texas
To begin the process for a divorce, one spouse must create and file a Petition for Divorce. The petitioner (person initiating the divorce) should make two copies of the document and file it at the local courthouse. The courthouse clerk will stamp your documentation and assign the case a number and court district. The respondent (other spouse) must receive a stamped copy of the petition and respond to the court within 20 days of receiving the petition.
A respondent can accept the terms of a divorce or contest them. Contested divorces often go to court, where the court will decide the ultimate terms of the divorce. These cases are more expensive and may take more time. You will need an attorney to protect your rights during a contested case.
Uncontested divorces require two ex-spouses to work together to compromise on the terms of a divorce. Unless you fully understand the terms that you are agreeing to in an uncontested divorce, we highly recommend seeking legal counsel to review your agreement before finalizing the terms.
Elements of Separation in a Texas Divorce
When two people marry, they combine lives in every sense of the word. When they decide to divorce, they (or the courts) must divide shared assets and rights before finalizing the divorce. Trying to agree on the terms of the divorce can be emotionally upsetting and the most difficult part of the process.
The elements that couples must determine include:
- Property division. Assets a couple obtains during marriage are shared property. Each individual is entitled to a fair division of shared property, including debt, financial assets, real estate, pension plans, and physical property. Separate property, property that an individual had before marriage or after separation, almost always goes back to the original owner.
- Spousal support/alimony. In many marriages, one spouse may forego a career in favor of taking care of the home and children. In these cases, a supported spouse needs transitional support after divorce.
- Child custody. Child custody is particularly difficult for spouses who cannot compromise on the terms. Depending on the circumstances of a case, two parents may share joint custody, or one may have full custody and the other may have visitation rights.
Finding a Divorce Lawyer in Harker Heights
Your divorce attorney is more than a legal advisor. Throughout the process, he or she will help you understand your rights and the future implications of certain decisions. Our firm strives to provide each client with accessible support before, during, and after a divorce proceeding. For matters in family law, our compassionate attorneys are here to protect yours and your children’s futures. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.