Below is basic information about divorce in Texas.
- What are the residency requirements to file for divorce in Texas?
- What are the grounds for divorce in Texas?
- Can I get support for myself and my children?
- How are assets and debts divided in the divorce?
- What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?
- Where can I find additional information about divorce?
What are the residency requirements to file for divorce in Texas?
To file for a divorce in Texas, at the time the divorce is filed, either spouse must have been living in Texas for the preceding six-month period and a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90-day period.* If you are participating in the TX Attorney General’s Address Confidentiality Program, the government will verify that you have met this requirement, without disclosing your address. Any time spent outside of Texas while serving in the U.S. armed forces (or as an accompanying spouse of someone serving) is still counted as residency in Texas for the purpose of calculating the six-month and 90-day time periods.**
If you do not live in Texas but your spouse does (and s/he has been living in Texas for at least the past six months), you can file a suit for divorce in the county in which s/he lives.***
* Tex. Fam. Code § 6.301
** Tex. Fam. Code § 6.303
*** Tex. Fam. Code § 6.302
What are the grounds for divorce in Texas?
There are 7 grounds (reasons) for divorce in Texas. Only the first ground listed below does not assign fault to either spouse for the break-up of the marriage. The other 6 grounds do require one spouse to blame the other for the divorce.
1. Insupportability - The marriage can no longer continue because of disagreements or differences that cannot be resolved.
2. Cruelty - When your spouse is guilty of "cruel treatment" towards you to the point that it is no longer bearable to continue living together.
3. Adultery - When your spouse has cheated on you (known as committing adultery).
4. Conviction of a felony - When, during the marriage, your spouse has been convicted of a felony and imprisoned for at least one year (in any state or federal prison) and has not been pardoned. However, you cannot use this ground if your testimony is what was used in court to convict your spouse.
5. Abandonment - When your spouse left you with the intention of abandoning you and he remained away for at least one year.
6. Living apart - When you and your spouse have lived apart (without cohabitation) for at least three years.
7. Confinement in mental hospital - When, at the time you file for divorce, your spouse has been confined in a mental hospital (state or private) for at least three years, and it appears that his/her mental disorder is the type that will not get better (or if it does get better, it appears that a relapse is probable.)*
* Tex. Fam. Code § 6.001 - 6.007
Can I get support for myself and my children?
Maintenance (spousal support)
In Texas, spousal support is called “maintenance.” A judge may order maintenance for either spouse if the spouse asking for maintenance will not have enough property (including separate property) when the marriage ends to provide for his/her minimum needs AND either:
1) The spouse that has to pay maintenance meets ALL of these requirements:
- s/he was convicted (or received deferred adjudication) for a crime that is an act of family violence;
- the act of family violence was committed during the marriage against the spouse asking for support (or his/her child); and
- the crime occurred within two years before the filing for divorce or while the divorce was pending.
2) The spouse that is asking for maintenance meets ONE of these requirements:
- s/he is not able to earn enough money to provide for his/her minimum needs because s/he has an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
- s/he has been married for 10 years or more and does not have the ability to earn enough money to provide for his/her minimum needs; or
- s/he has custody of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that does not allow the spouse to earn enough money to take care of his/her minimum needs.*
The judge may require one or both parents to provide child support until:
- the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later;
- the child is emancipated (released from custodial care); or
- the death of the child.
If the child is disabled, child support payments could last for an indefinite period of time.**
Parents will also be required to pay medical support for their children.***
For information on how Texas calculates child support see Texas Family Law Information. For additional information about child support in Texas, you can go to Get Child Support Safely. (WomensLaw.org has no relationship with these websites. We provide the links for your information only.)
* Tex. Fam. Code § 8.051
** Tex. Fam. Code § 154.001
*** Tex. Fam. Code § 154.008
How are assets and debts divided in the divorce?
Texas is one of the minority of states that divides assets (including property) and debts of a marriage based on the "community property" standard, which basically means that marital property/debts are divided evenly between spouses. However, there can be complicating factors that can affect this division of property. You can read all of the laws related to community property in Texas on the Texas Legislative website but we suggest that you consult with a lawyer who can evaluate your case based on the specifics of your situation. Go to our TX Finding a Lawyer page for referrals.
What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?
While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps that a person may have to follow in most states:
- First, you or your spouse must meet the residency requirements of the state you want to file in.
- Second, you must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage, which may include a no-fault ground such as irreconcilable differences.
- Third, you must file the appropriate divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse - for the exact rules for serving the papers, contact your local courthouse or an attorney.
- Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, then s/he will have the opportunity to file papers telling her/his side. This may be called “contesting the divorce.” If s/he contests it, then you may have a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. If your spouse does not disagree with anything, then s/he may sign the appropriate divorce papers and send them back to you and/or the court (depending on your state). If your spouse agrees with everything and signs the papers, this may be called an “uncontested divorce.” Also, if a certain period of time passes and your spouse does not sign the papers or file any papers of his/her own, you may be able to proceed with the divorce as an uncontested divorce anyway. (Speak to a lawyer in your state about how long you have to wait to see if your spouse answers before you can continue with the divorce).
- Fifth, if there is property, assets, a pension, debts, or anything else that you need divided, or if you need financial support from your spouse, then these issues may have to be dealt with during the divorce or else you may lose your chance to deal with these issues. The issues may be worked out during settlement negotiations and incorporated into the divorce decree or in a series of court hearings during the divorce. Custody may also be decided as part of your divorce.
Where can I find additional information about divorce?
We hope the following links to outside sources may be helpful:
- The Supreme Court of Texas has court forms that you may need if you wish to get an uncontested divorce that does not involve minor children or real property.
- The State Bar of Texas has a Pro Se Divorce Handbook for people to represent themselves in Family Court, which includes information about alimony and the division of marital property as well as custody issues to consider.
- The Texas State Law Library also has information on divorce in Texas for people with and without children.
WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organizations and cannot vouch for the accuracy of their sites. We provide these links for your information only.