Ending a marriage is a difficult, but common reality of our modern society. Texas is one of the most populated areas in our great nation, and not surprisingly, has a high divorce rate. There may be many reasons for the end of a marriage, financial conflicts, early marriages where the spouses grow apart over time, discord among the partners, career ambitions, etc.
The sometimes not-so-smooth process of terminating a marriage depends on several factors: i) understanding your options; ii) picking and choosing your battles, and; iii) reaching agreements where necessary or beneficial are keys to a smooth transition. The majority of Texas divorces are resolved by an agreement between the parties. If an agreement cannot be reached, the parties may engage in litigation, which can require increased expense and multiple hearings in front of the Court, among other things.
Often an agreement, which seemed unreachable at an early stage in a lawsuit, becomes attainable after some early litigation. These agreements can be struck in mediation, where an appointed third party neutral is hired to discuss and listen to the areas of the relationship and property that are in dispute, and work to find a common ground and settle the case. Sometimes the divorcing parties may work together in a collaborative law approach, where the two spouses work together with one or more attorneys (and often, a counselor) and reach an agreed settlement of the issues without the need for frequent court hearings. When agreements cannot be reached, the parties must engage in litigation, where the parties present their disputes to the Court for ruling-this is the most expensive option in dissolving a marriage.
Basic Procedures and Requirements:
- Texas resident for six months;
- County resident for 90 days;
- Any spouse can get a divorce simply by stating the reason for their dissatisfaction with the marriage relationship in the legal papers—called a Petition for Divorce or Original Petition
- Texas allows for a no-fault basis for divorcing couples, however, when one spouse alleges the fault of another spouse for ending the relationship, it may impact the way property is divided;
- The Petition must be served on the other spouse;
- After a case is filed, either party can request temporary orders from the Court (i.e., temporary custody, visitation, and child support, order on which spouse pays community debts—the mortgage, etc.—on a temporary basis);
- There is a 60 day waiting period after filing before the end of a marriage can be finalized;
- If both parties agree on important issues (e.g., division of the property, division of debts, support and child custody/visitation, alimony settlement, etc.), then the divorce can be finalized without trial;
- If the parties fail to come to an agreement, the Court sets a date and time for a hearing.
The decision to move out and end a marriage is difficult. If possible work together with your spouse to reach agreements on the issues that you can reach agreements on; if Court hearings are necessary, ensure that they are over the most important issues. Call Ashmore & Ashmore for a private consultation.