When you’ve decided to get divorced, it’s natural to want to get the process over with as quickly as possible. However, many states have a mandatory waiting period. Does Texas have a ‘waiting period’ before a divorce?
The short answer is yes.
Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about the waiting period in a Texas divorce.
In half of all U.S. states, divorcing spouses must endure a waiting period of a specific length of time between the initial filing of the paperwork and the finalization of the divorce. This waiting period can be as short as ninety days– in Washington, for example– or as long as six months or more.
It might seem strange that state laws enforce a waiting period before a marriage can be legally dissolved, but the reality is that courts recognize that there is an interest on the part of the state to encourage and protect marriage.
The general logic behind the waiting period is that dissolving a marriage is a serious action. By mandating that couples take a specific period of time to ensure they are doing the right thing, states are trying to make sure that divorces aren’t occurring flippantly or on a whim.
Though this might be frustrating news, you’ll be glad to know the waiting period is ultimately on the shorter side compared to some other states. Places like California, Louisiana, and Vermont all have six-month waiting periods, for example.
In Texas, the waiting period is sixty days, a.k .a. two months.
The waiting period begins on the date the original petition for divorce is filed. Sixty days must pass before a judge is able to grant a divorce except in very specific circumstances.
At the same time, it’s important to understand that this doesn’t mean that your final divorce decree will be signed on day sixty-one. There are a lot of reasons why a divorce might take longer than the waiting period, including disagreements between spouses about how to split up the estate or backlogged court calendars.
If a marriage is declared void or a marriage is annulled, the waiting period doesn’t apply. Instead, this waiting period only applies to couples that were legitimately married and allow them a “cooling off” period before taking an action as definitive as legally ending their marriage.
Only one spouse needs to desire a divorce in order to begin the process in Texas. So long as they meet the residency requirements, they can fill out and file the original petition for divorce either on their own or with the help of an attorney. This paperwork is then filed with the court, and the process of divorce is formally initiated.
The other spouse will then need to receive legal notice that the original petition has been filed. They can either be served the paperwork, or they can choose to sign a waiver of citation. The waiver of citation is often the easiest way to go about this if both spouses are on good terms or at least agreed on getting a divorce in the first place.
If the other spouse doesn’t want to sign the waiver, they will need to be served. Typically, this involves a qualified, neutral third party that delivers the petition and citations physically. The other spouse then has a specific period of time in which they can file an “answer.”
To determine the first date that you could theoretically have your divorce finalized, you’ll want to get out a calendar. Find the day that you first filed your original petition and begin counting on the following day. This includes both holidays and weekends.
Once you have counted out sixty days, you have reached the date that you can first finalize your divorce. If it falls on a holiday or a weekend, the first day a judge will be able to finalize your divorce will be the next business day.
Yes, there are a few exceptions to the waiting period in Texas. However, pretty much everyone is going to need to wait the sixty days unless they qualify under one of the following exceptions:
In these instances where violence is involved in the relationship, the sixty-day waiting period can be waived by a judge. A divorce can, therefore, be granted sooner.
In Texas, the average length of time it takes to finalize a divorce is between six months and a year. As you can see, this implies that the waiting period actually doesn’t usually push back the date that your divorce is finalized.
There are a number of factors that influence how long it takes to get divorced. If you’re getting a simple, uncontested divorce and you and your spouse have no children and few assets or debts, the process of divorce can be fairly swift and may only take a few months. On the other hand, if your divorce is contested, you have children, and your marital estate is ample and complex, the process will likely take significantly longer.
Another factor that can influence how long it takes to get divorced is whether you file on fault-based grounds or no-fault grounds. Fault-based grounds accuse your spouse of some specific wrongdoing that led to the dissolution of the marriage, while no-fault grounds do not accuse either spouse of being responsible for the marriage coming to an end.
If you are interested in a quick divorce in Texas, the fastest route is going to be filing on the grounds of insupportability. You might be more familiar with the term “irreconcilable differences,” which is used in other states for the same purpose. Essentially, this means that you and your spouse are not going to be able to make the marriage work.
You might expect that once you have your divorce decree in hand, you are free to go off and marry someone else whenever you please. However, you actually have to wait thirty-one days after the signing of the divorce decree to remarry someone other than the spouse you just divorced.
If you and the person you just divorced want to get remarried, however, you are able to do so at any time. As you might imagine, this isn’t a particularly common occurrence. After all, given the sixty-day waiting period, most couples have had a significant amount of time to think through their decision to move on from the relationship.
It’s worth mentioning that you will also want to refrain from dating before your divorce is finalized in Texas as well. Beyond the strategic and emotional reasons why this might not be a good idea, there are also legal reasons why you should wait to start dating other people.
When you get a divorce in Texas, there is a mandatory waiting period of sixty days. There are a few exceptions to the rule, but they are fairly specific and only apply to marriages that involve domestic violence.
Even though a judge will technically be able to sign your divorce decree after the waiting period has passed, the truth is that you likely won’t be able to schedule your court date for day sixty-one after you initially filed the paperwork. How quickly your divorce can be finalized is going to depend on a number of factors, including the specifics of your case and the court calendar.
In the face of this, one of the best things you can do is work to understand as much as you can about how divorce works in Texas. For more resources to aid you as you march towards a post-divorce life, make sure you check out our Texas Divorce Laws blog.