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Dissolution of Marriage in Texas: How to End Your Marriage

Sophia Merton
March 26, 2024

More commonly known as divorce, the dissolution of marriage in Texas is a major life event because of its financial, emotional, and legal implications. At the same time, tens of thousands of couples choose to go through the process every year in Texas.

Whether you and your spouse are dealing with a communication breakdown, infidelity, financial issues, or are simply incompatible, learning how to end your marriage is the first step in starting your life anew.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the steps involved in divorce and the choices you’ll need to make along the way.

Dissolution of Marriage: What Is It?

The term "dissolution of marriage" is a legal term used to describe the process of formally ending a marriage, also known as divorce. This process legally dissolves the bonds of matrimony between a married couple.

wedding ring on glass table representing dissolution of marriage in texas

A number of key issues are addressed during the process of marriage dissolution. These include:

Each state has its own laws that govern marriage and divorce, meaning that the process can vary depending on where you’re filing for divorce.

Furthermore, what the process consists of is also influenced by a number of factors, including:

  • Whether the divorce is contested or uncontested
  • Whether you and your spouse have children
  • The particular details of your estate and financial circumstance

There are a number of ways that a marriage can be dissolved in Texas. The fastest, cheapest, and simplest way to get divorced is through mutual agreement. However, divorce can also result from mediation, collaborative divorce, or court proceedings.

How to End Your Marriage in Texas

If you know it’s time for a fresh start, how do you go about dissolving your marriage in Texas?

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to get a divorce in the Lone Star State.

Fill Out and File a Divorce Petition

To initiate the divorce process in Texas, the first step is to fill out an Original Petition for Divorce.

couple meeting with divorce attorney in texas for marriage dissolution

This document outlines your wishes regarding the division of property, child custody, and other relevant matters. It's crucial to provide accurate and detailed information from the get-go here to make sure you don’t run into any issues as the rest of the process unfolds.

Once completed, you can then file the petition with the district clerk's office in the county where you or your spouse reside.

It's important to ensure you meet Texas's residency requirements, which are:

  • You or your spouse must have lived at least six months in the state of Texas
  • You or your spouse must have lived at least 90 days in the county you are filing in

When you go to file your paperwork, you’ll need to pay a filing fee that varies by county. This fee is usually a few hundred dollars, but you can apply for a waiver if you aren’t able to afford it.

As a part of your divorce petition, you’ll choose whether you are filing for a fault-based or no-fault divorce. A fault-based divorce means that you are placing the blame on your spouse for the breakdown of the marriage, while a no-fault divorce means that neither party isn’t being pinned as the one that’s responsible for the divorce.

Notify Your Spouse

After filing the divorce petition, you must legally notify your spouse, referred to as "service of process."

This can be done through a private process server, sheriff, or certified mail.

Your spouse has a set period to respond once they receive the documents in what is referred to as their “Answer.” If they agree with the petition's contents, the process may proceed uncontested, and divorce can ultimately be pretty straightforward. If they disagree, they will file an answer, leading to a contested divorce, which involves more detailed legal proceedings (and, usually, more money.)

Complete a Final Divorce Decree

Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, you'll need to complete a Final Decree of Divorce.

This document outlines the final terms of your divorce, including asset division, child custody, and support arrangements. In an uncontested divorce, both spouses work together to agree on the terms before filing the decree with the court. In a contested case, the decree reflects the judge's decisions following a court hearing or trial.

couple fighting about marriage dissolution in texas

Though we can’t always get what we want in life, it really is ideal to get an uncontested divorce if at all possible. Going this route is generally less expensive, and less stressful than a contested divorce. At the same time, it’s not suitable for everyone.

Here are some of the elements you’ll want to look for to determine whether you’re a good candidate for an uncontested divorce:

  • Mutual agreement between you and your spouse about the divorce
  • Effective communication and cooperation between you and your spouse
  • No major disputes about property division or other marital issues
  • Both spouses have a strong grasp of their financial situation and legal rights
  • You don’t have children, or both spouses are motivated to prioritize the best interest of the children in the divorce

Attend a Divorce Hearing

If your divorce is uncontested, a hearing will most likely be a brief formality where the judge reviews and approves your Final Decree of Divorce. If you and your spouse agree on everything and the judge sees the agreement as fair and just, the hearing will, in all likelihood, be very straightforward.

In contested cases, on the other hand, the hearing is part of the trial process where both parties present their arguments, evidence, and witness testimonies. You should attend all scheduled hearings and be prepared to discuss your case. Don’t forget to wear appropriate court attire!

During a contested, litigated case, the judge will hear both sides of the story and make decisions based on the information presented and the best interests of any involved children.

Finalize Your Divorce

After the judge signs the Final Decree of Divorce, your divorce is complete.

judge dissolving marriage in texas

In Texas, however, there is a mandatory waiting period of 60 days from the date you filed the petition before the divorce can be finalized. This means that a judge can’t sign the Final Decree of Divorce until the waiting period has fully played out.

Once this period passes and all court requirements are met, the divorce is official. At the same time, your work isn’t done. You’ll need to obtain certified copies of the final decree for your records and to update any relevant legal documents, such as your name or marital status on IDs and financial accounts.

The Cost of Marriage Dissolution in Texas

How much it costs to dissolve your marriage in Texas depends on a number of different factors. Essentially, it can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. The circumstances of your marriage and the choices you and your spouse make during the divorce process will determine where your costs fall on this spectrum.

Some of the factors that influence the cost of divorce in Texas include:

  • Whether the divorce is contested or uncontested: Uncontested divorces are typically less expensive than contested divorces.
  • Attorney's fees: The biggest factor in the cost of a divorce is usually the fees charged by attorneys. These can vary widely based on the attorney's experience, location, and the complexity of the divorce proceedings. Hourly rates and retainer fees are common, and more complicated cases require more hours of legal work.
  • Court costs and filing fees: Each county in Texas has its own filing fee for when you file your divorce paperwork. You also might incur additional costs such as fees for serving documents on the other spouse, filing motions, and obtaining copies of court documents.
  • Dispute resolution costs: If the divorce is contested, you may also rack up some costs when it comes to dispute resolution, such as mediation services, custody evaluations, appraisals for property valuation, and hiring expert witnesses.
  • Length of proceedings: The longer the divorce process lasts, the more it will typically cost. Prolonged negotiations, multiple court appearances, and lengthy trials all add to the overall expense.
  • Complexity of issues: Divorces involving complex asset division, contested child custody issues, or spousal support disputes tend to be more expensive.
  • Child-related expenses: Issues such as determining custody, visitation schedules, and child support can add to the cost if they are contested.
  • Miscellaneous expenses: There are also likely going to be additional expenses you’ll incur during the process. You’ll want to think about your budget for changing your housing situation, travel expenses related to court appearances, and more.

Navigating Divorce in Texas

Getting a divorce is one of the most stressful things anyone can go through. The dissolution of a marriage is emotionally and financially taxing, to say the least. At the same time, the more you know about the legal process, the better able you’ll be to make decisions that best serve you and your entire family.

Are you looking for more resources to help you navigate divorce in the Lone Star State? Make sure you check out our Texas Divorce Laws blog for more articles and guides!

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is a researcher and writer that aims to help make the complexities of the legal system understandable to the layperson. Believing that people can be empowered by understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law, Sophia aims to offer accurate and well-researched information in straightforward and easy-to-digest legal articles.

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