Divorce Laws in Texas
Even under the best of circumstances, going through the divorce process is stressful and often emotionally devastating. And if you are a resident of Austin or anywhere else in Texas, you’re probably in for a long haul. Texas divorce laws can be complicated, so you may need legal guidance from an experienced family law and divorce lawyer. In the meantime, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the laws regarding dissolution of marriage, and if you have children, custody and support.
Texas Divorce Laws
As is the case with most states, Texas has legally outlined the divorce process in its statutes, but it also gives the courts a tremendous amount of leeway when it comes to how the law is executed. Texas divorce law distinguishes itself in a number of ways from other states, so even if you’re familiar with the rules regarding divorce in another state, you need to be aware of the nuances of the Texas legal process. Here are some of the relevant factors to Texas divorce:
- 60-Day Waiting Period – Many states don’t have a waiting period, but in Texas a divorce can’t be finalized until 60 days after filing.
- Residency Requirements – Not only does one of the parties have to be a resident of Texas for six months, but also a resident of the county where they are filing (i.e. Montgomery, Fort Bend, Harris, et cetera).
- No Legal Separation – Texas has no legal separation status. Instead, the 60-day waiting period works in lieu of a legal separation.
- Restraining Order Option – The petitioner can ask the judge to issue a temporary order restraining the respondent from contact. There will be a court hearing after 14 days to decide whether or not the order should be lifted.
- Grounds For Divorce – The following are all considered grounds for divorce in the state of Texas:
- Conviction of a felony
- Living apart (for three years)
- Confinement in a mental hospital (for three years)
- Insupportability (No-Fault) – Most divorces in Texas fall into this category. You’re not required to produce grounds for a divorce. While the language in the Texas statute is different than in other states, this is what’s often referred to as “irreconcilable differences.”
- Annulment – An annulment may be granted for juveniles who are 16 or 17 years of age and were married without their parent’s consent. This can only be done before the parties turn 18. Annulment may also occur in certain situations involving fraud, duress, force, impotency, and intoxication.
- Mediation – Texas law does allow for mediation and it is actually required before a divorce can be heard in court.
Child Custody Laws in Texas
Like most states, the Texas courts don’t decide custody based on gender. The first priority is the wellbeing of the child or children. With that in mind, the Houston-area courts are more likely to approve plans that have been agreed upon by the parents prior to judicial review. If the shared-parenting plan places an undue hardship on the children or either parent, the divorce court judge will reject it or make amendments.
Once your shared parenting agreement is approved by the court, it’s considered legally binding. If you want to change the plan, you’ll have to file for a modification.
Child Support Laws
In Texas, the parent who has custody of the children the most amount of time is entitled to support from the parent who has them the least amount of time. The calculations are based upon the income of the parent who’s been ordered to pay support. If the supporting parent doesn’t pay, the court can order wage garnishment or even charge them criminally.
Asset and Debt Division
Most property and debt acquired during the course of the marriage is jointly owned by the two spouses. That means that during the negotiations, it will either have to be liquidated or offset by an asset of equal value. For instance, if there is $20,000 in equity in a house, it could be offset by a $20,000 car if the couple owns it outright.
Debt and asset division must be fair, but that doesn’t always mean that the shares will be evenly divided. There are many conditions and situations that are identified by law that would warrant an uneven split, including commutation of assets, money being spent on an extramarital affair, et cetera.
Houston, TX Divorce and Family Law Attorney
Texas law often complicates the divorce process, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Hire an experienced family law attorney who’s well versed in Texas divorce law. In Houston, the Law Office of Scott D. Reiner can represent you in your divorce proceedings. Call today to schedule a free initial consultation.