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How to Prepare for Divorce in Texas: 7+ Things to Know

Sophia Merton
December 27, 2023

If you’re just starting to research how to legally end your marriage, there’s a good chance you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Learning how to prepare for divorce in Texas can feel like a steep hill to climb– after all, divorce is often the first and only interaction an individual has with the legal system.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at all of the basic information you’ll want to consider as you begin the process. Furthermore, we’ll make sure you know what the most important steps are so you can be fully prepared going into your Texas divorce.

1. Understanding the Residency Requirements in Texas

The first thing you’ll want to do if you’re considering divorce in Texas is make sure you qualify based on their residency requirements.

home in texas where couple is filing for divorce

While there are a few exceptions, the basic gist is that you need to fulfill both of the following requirements in order to file for divorce in Texas:

  • You or your spouse has been living in Texas for the previous six months or longer and
  • You or your spouse has been living in the county where you’ll file for divorce for the previous ninety days or longer

Military families or individuals who work for the government outside of Texas can still get divorced in the state if the following are true:

  • Texas has been your home state or your spouse’s home state for at least six months
  • The county where you’re filing for divorce has been your home county or your spouse’s home county for at least ninety days

Individuals who are stationed in Texas for military duty (or another government role) can also get divorced in Texas, even if it isn’t their home state. However, they will need to have been in Texas for six months and the county where the divorce is being filed for ninety days.

2. Selecting Grounds for Divorce

One important decision you’ll have to make at the beginning of the divorce process is what the grounds are for your divorce. The person who is filing the divorce paperwork will need to choose one of the legally acceptable grounds for divorce in Texas, which are:

  1. Insupportability
  2. Living apart
  3. Confinement in a mental hospital
  4. Cruelty
  5. Adultery
  6. Felony conviction
  7. Abandonment

The first three grounds on are list are known as “no-fault” grounds. This means that neither party is being accused of being responsible for the dissolution of the marriage.

The last four are “fault-based” grounds. This means that one spouse is accusing the other spouse of behavior that led to the end of the marriage.

couple fighting in texas filing for divorce on grounds of insupportability

By far the most common ground for divorce in Texas is “insupportability.” You might be more familiar with this concept by the name of “irreconcilable differences.” Essentially, this means that the two of you are so at odds that it is unlikely that you could work things out.

Even if your spouse is guilty of one of the fault-based grounds for divorce, you might still choose to file on the grounds of insupportability. The reason for this is that the onus will be on you (and your lawyer) to prove what you are accusing your spouse of. As you might imagine, this type of divorce can become a lot more contentious, which typically means a longer, more expensive, and more stressful divorce.

3. Choosing Between Legal Representation and DIY Divorce

Another big choice you’ll have to make is whether you want to hire a lawyer for your divorce. It is generally advised that you seek legal representation when you’re ending your marriage, but there are some circumstances where filing without the help of an attorney might make sense.

texas courtroom where texas couple is getting divorced

Deciding to represent yourself in a divorce is a big decision. However, many are motivated to look into it because it can save you a ton of money during the process.

At the same time, don’t be too frugal and try to represent yourself when you’re in over your head. Remember, the outcome of your divorce will have a huge impact on your post-divorce life.

You might be a good candidate for a DIY divorce if:

  • You and your spouse don’t have any children
  • You and your spouse have very little property or debt
  • You and your spouse agree on how property will be split (and custody arrangements and child support, if applicable)
  • You and your spouse are filing for divorce on no-fault grounds
  • You and your spouse are divorcing amicably

If the above list of factors doesn’t really apply to you, it’s probably a good idea to talk to a lawyer. Even if you do fit within the above parameters, it’s typically advised to lawyer up if your spouse has already found representation.

Deciding whether or not to hire a lawyer is a really big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Make sure you check out our other articles about divorce attorneys in Texas to learn more about the pros and cons:

4. Understanding Property Division in Texas

Texas is one of nine U.S. states that is a community property jurisdiction.

What this means is that any and all property (except a few exceptions) acquired during your marriage– by either spouse– is considered community property. What this means is that the courts will presume that both you and your spouse own the property equally, even if only one of you has your name on the title or paid for it with your own income.

There are a few exceptions in this regard. Things that you acquired before your marriage are considered your own separate property. Furthermore, any of the following that were acquired during the marriage are also considered separate property:

  • Property that was received as a gift
  • An inheritance
  • A personal injury settlement

Ready to get organized? Take a look at our Texas divorce checklist.

5. Getting Your Documents in Order

Getting divorced is always going to be stressful, but you can mitigate just how stressful it is by being prepared. One of the things you’ll want to start doing sooner rather than later is gathering all of the necessary documents and forms you’ll need.

binders of paperwork and documents for texas divorce process

You can learn more about the legal forms you’ll need to get divorced in our Texas Divorce Forms guide.

6. Planning For the Waiting Period

Another important thing to know about getting divorced in Texas is that there is a mandatory sixty-day waiting period. This means that judges aren’t able to sign off on Final Divorce Decrees until sixty days have passed since the initial divorce paperwork was filed.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, but they are very specific and relate to domestic violence. Most couples will need to be patient and wait through the sixty days.

7. The Importance of a Support Network

There are so many practical tasks and considerations during divorce that it’s easy to forget about the more human side of things. Getting divorced is a huge life change, and it’s not something you’ll want to do alone.

When you realize that you’re getting divorced, it’s a good idea to start building up your support network. This can mean close friends, family members, clergy members, or therapists. The bigger your network, the more likely it is that someone will be there to help when you need it most.

If there are children involved in the marriage, it’s essential to think about their well-being during the process. Though it can be tempting to try incorporating them as a part of your support network, avoid badmouthing your spouse to your kids. Make sure they have the help they need during the process, work to communicate with them openly and provide space for them to tell you how they really feel.

8. Understanding the Cost of Litigation

As a final note, it’s important to understand just how expensive your divorce can get if it ends up in a courtroom battle. Sometimes, there is no way around it. If possible, though, consider other options like mediation.

  • Not only is litigation more costly from a financial standpoint, but it’s also more costly to your time and well-being.

Mediation isn’t always cheaper and less time-consuming than litigation, but it often is. If you and your spouse disagree on some of the terms of your divorce, consider finding a way to come to an agreement outside of the courtroom.

Your Texas Divorce: Preparation Is Power

Divorce is a process that affects just about every aspect of your life– your finances, your home, your family, and so on. Though learning about the divorce process probably isn’t your idea of a good time, the truth is that it’s well worth the time and energy to prepare.

  • The more prepared you are, the better able you’ll be to make decisions and anticipate potential post-divorce outcomes. With preparation, you can find poise, even amidst such a chaotic life event.

Are you searching for more resources to help you navigate your divorce in Texas? Make sure you check out our Texas Divorce Laws blog.

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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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