Getting divorced is often an individual’s first interaction with the court system in their state. If you’re thinking about filing to dissolve your marriage, you’re likely wondering, “what are the requirements for getting divorced in Texas?”
In Texas, there are residency requirements you need to fulfill, fees that must be paid, and a waiting period that must pass before a divorce can be finalized. You are not required to file for divorce on fault-based grounds.
In order to get divorced in Texas, you will need to meet the two residency requirements dictated by the state.
During the time leading up to filing for divorce, either you or your spouse needs to fulfill the residency requirements, which are:
People that are serving in the armed forces or serving in a state or federal government service outside of Texas can still qualify for getting a Texas divorce so long as:
The same goes for spouses that accompany a husband or wife that is serving in the armed forces or another government service in another state or country.
If you are a military family and you are getting divorced with children, you will want to consult with a lawyer. If your children have been living outside of Texas for the previous six months, courts in Texas might not be able to make orders regarding your kids.
The cost of divorce can vary greatly depending on a long list of factors. In general, there is usually a “filing fee” that you pay when you file the initial paperwork. Filing fees vary between counties, but they usually cost between $250 and $300.
You also might have to pay a “service fee” and an “issuance fee” if you need to have your spouse served.
You can learn more about the specifics of court fees involved in your divorce by contacting the district clerk’s office in the county where you will be filing for divorce.
It is possible to ask a judge to waive your fees if you aren’t financially able to cover them. You can do this by filling out and filing a form known as the Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs.
In order to have your fees waived, you will need to prove that one of the following statements is true:
If your court fees are waived, you won’t have to pay “any fee charged by the court or an officer of the court, including, but not limited to:
You can find this language in Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 145(a).
For more information about how much you should expect to pay to get divorced in the Lone Star State, check out our guide to the cost of divorce in Texas.
Every state in the U.S., plus the District of Columbia, permits no-fault divorce these days. This means that you can file for divorce without alleging that the other person is at fault in any way and instead pointing to the fact that the relationship is unreconcilable.
Before that, though, you would have to have grounds for divorce in order to be granted one. One of the motivations of the no-fault divorce movement that revolutionized divorce laws across the country was the reality that spouses would often allege false grounds in order to be granted a divorce.
Some U.S. states have completely removed a person’s ability to file for divorce on fault-based grounds such as abandonment, adultery, or cruelty. In Texas, you have the option to file for a no-fault divorce or on fault-based grounds.
Your spouse does not have to agree to the divorce in order for it to be granted. Only one spouse has to believe that the relationship is irreconcilable.
There are seven grounds for divorce in Texas, which are:
Even if you believe that your spouse is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage, you might still choose to file on the grounds of insupportability (a no-fault divorce) in order to make the process simpler, faster, and less expensive. If you are thinking about filing for divorce on fault-based grounds, it’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer. They will be able to help you understand the different potential timelines and outcomes of each of your options.
Another requirement for divorce in Texas is the mandatory sixty-day waiting period. This means that a court cannot grant you a divorce until sixty days have passed since you filed for divorce.
There are only two exceptions to this rule, and they are very specific. The waiting period can be waived if:
You can determine when your waiting period will be over by looking at a calendar and starting the day after you filed the Original Petition for Divorce. When counting out sixty days, including both weekends and holidays.
If the sixtieth day after you file is a Saturday, a Sunday, or a holiday, the next business day will be the first day your waiting period is over.
Even though a judge can’t grant a divorce until these sixty days have passed, it’s important to understand that you might still have to wait longer than that for your divorce to be finalized. This has to do with the specifics of your case and the schedule of the courthouse.
Though it might be frustrating to learn that you have to wait sixty days before the divorce can be finalized, this period of time can give you and your spouse the opportunity to decide if you really want to get divorced. Legally dissolving your marriage is a big decision, and it can be good to have a “cooling off period” where everyone can think through the ramifications of this event.
You are able to continue working on reaching an agreement with your spouse about the terms of your divorce during this time. The process of divorce doesn’t have to come to a halt during the waiting period. You simply won’t be able to complete the process until the waiting period is over.
No, you are not required to have a lawyer in order to get a divorce in Texas. You can choose to represent yourself if you’d like. This is known as being a Pro se Litigant.
Getting divorced without a lawyer in Texas can potentially save you thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. However, this isn’t a decision you want to take lightly. The outcomes of a divorce can have a huge impact on your finances, your relationship with your children, and your life, so you’ll want to make sure you understand the implications of representing yourself before doing so.
Be sure to check out our Texas Divorce Laws blog for more resources about your rights and responsibilities during a divorce.