Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the more common questions related to Texas divorce and family law.
1. How long does it take to get a divorce?
Texas requires that the petition have been filed at least 60 days prior to the divorce being granted. Assuming the spouses reach an agreement on the relevant issues a divorce may be obtained on the 61st day.
2. Do I need a “legal separation” from my spouse?
Texas does not recognize the legal status known as “legal separation.” In Texas the parties are married until the day the divorce is granted.
3. Where can I file for divorce?
You or your spouse must have resided in the county of filing for at least 90 days prior to filing and in the state of Texas for at least six months.
4. How is property divided between spouses in a divorce?
The Court is required by the Family Code to divide the community property “in a manner that the Court deems just and right.” This means the Court is not required to split the property equally. A number of factors can be factored into determining what is “just and right,” such as fault in the divorce, disparity in earning power, disparity in amount of separate property, etc.
5. What is the difference between separate and community property?
See the video and article on separate property which explains how the courts handle this issue.
6. How is child support calculated?
See the video and article on child support calculation.
7. What is “standard” visitation?
In the vast majority of Texas divorces involving children both parents are named as Joint Managing Conservators with a shared division of parental rights. One of these parents will in effect be primary, that is the parent whom the children live with more of the time, typically the same parent who receives child support. Most commonly the other parent will have visitation and pay child support. The visitation schedule most often used is the Standard Possession Order visitation, which is directly from the Texas Family Code. Texas Family Code Section 153.312 spells out the details of Standard Possession Order visitation in minute detail and this is frequently used verbatim in Final Decree. A summary of a typical visitation schedule based on the statute is as follows: the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Friday of every month from Friday (beginning at either school dismissal or 6:00 p.m.) until the following Sunday at 6:00 p.m., every Thursday beginning at either school dismissal or 6:00 p.m. and ending either at 8:00 p.m. that night or when school resumes the following morning), as well as 30 days in the Summer, and additional visitation periods for Spring Break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, depending on whether it an odd or even numbered year. This is a very common schedule but it may not be suitable depending on the circumstances of the case.
8. What are temporary orders?
Temporary orders are entered after an agreement between the parties or after a hearing in front of the court. The purpose of temporary orders is to govern many issues that need to be addressed for the pendency of the divorce case. Practitioners often call them “band aid” orders because they are designed to hold things together until a final order can be reached. They most frequently involve issues such like custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, exclusive use of property including the marital residence, and interim attorneys fees.
9. If both spouses are in agreement on the divorce, how do we finalize the divorce?
Frequently the spouses in a divorce will agree on a divorce, but actually have differences of opinion on what the specific terms of the divorce should be. For example, they might both want the divorce but one party wants to keep the house and the other wants to sell it and split the proceeds. Divorces involve a lot of potential issues such as child custody or support, property division, spousal support, and many others. If all the relevant issues have been agreed to finalizing the divorce can be a relatively straightforward legal procedure. An Agreed Decree of Divorce, along with any other necessary transfer documents, will need to be prepared and executed by both parties. After all necessary papers are signed by the parties and attorneysone of the party’s and their attorney will go to court to do a prove up hearing to have the court grant the divorce.
10. Do I have to show fault to get a divorce?
Since Texas is a no-fault divorce state it is unnecessary to show fault in order to obtain a divorce. As long as one spouse can testify that there is marital discord and is no reasonable chance of reconciliation. However, many fault issues (adultery, cruelty, etc.) are frequently relevant factors in divorce cases because they can have an impact on how the community property is divided, or how custody is decided.