A divorce is a legal process that terminates a marriage. The divorce will decide who keeps what property and who pays which debt.
Forms and Representation
You do not need to be a lawyer to participate in the legal process. You may file for divorce without an attorney, or pro se. There are free forms and a lot of information online to help you at Texas Law Help. You will require a lawyer in the case of special issues, to draft customized forms, for land transfers, retirement or investment account issues and if spousal support is applicable. Filing fees will apply, but you may be eligible for a waiver of fees.
You may get divorced in Texas if you or your spouse resides in Texas for the past six months. You may file the petition for divorce in the county where you or your spouse has lived for the past 90 days. Once the forms are filled out, your spouse will be served legal notice. You do not need to assign fault, but fault may be cited. You must wait 61 days or longer, in most cases, from the day you filed your petition for divorce before the divorce can be finalized.
Contested vs. Uncontested
If you and your spouse do not disagree about the terms of the divorce, the case is uncontested. You must go to court, but it is a simplified process. In cases where your spouse files an answer to your original complaint, or does not agree to terms, this is considered contested. Contested divorces are more time consuming and expensive than uncontested divorces.
Note: Some courts in Texas hear uncontested divorce cases only on certain days.
Property and Debt
Property and debt is divided based upon the community property law. Anything you or your spouse bought during the marriage, even if you were separated, is considered community property, regardless of who bought it. This is also true with debts. The court divides the community property and debt in a just and right manner, but not necessarily equally.
Prepare the Decree
You may prepare the decree of divorce yourself, but an attorney should help you if you have any complications. Even if you do not have a complicated divorce, an attorney should review your decree. The decree is also known as the divorce agreement. The decree will contain who makes decisions about your children if you have any, when visitation occurs, child support details, orders for spousal support, and property and debt division.
You may be required to participate in mediation. If you can, it helps to have a third party assist in coming up with an agreed order for an uncontested divorce. Regardless of a contested or uncontested divorce, once your trial date comes up on the calendar, you must come to court with related paperwork. If your case is uncontested, the judge will review your decree and sign it. You will file it with the clerk.
If the divorce is contested, the judge will hear testimony and may ask questions, and your financial affidavits and other information will be made available. The judge will deliberate and make a judgment. Once the judge signs the decree and the paperwork is filed, you are considered divorced, but you must wait 30 days after the decree is signed before you may legally remarry.
A Lawyer Can Help
Divorce is a tricky process, and it is often stressful. Laws are changing all the time and vary from place to place. An attorney is an indispensable asset when going through this legal situation.