Texas Divorce Laws You May Not Have Known

When the unfortunate reality of a divorce is imminent, many people wish to get it over with as quickly as possible, but that can prove impossible without accurate knowledge of Texas divorce laws.  Divorce is stressful and emotionally difficult for both parties.  If there are children involved, matters can become even more heated.  Like many legal issues though, divorce is a process.  It takes time to disentangle the lives it took months or years to bring together.  That’s why having an experienced lawyer on your side, one who specializes in family law, is so important.  Someone with specific knowledge and experience in Texas divorce laws will be best able to provide the assistance you need.

 

Once you decide to file for divorce, you’ll want to make sure you meet the residency requirements.  This generally means that you must have lived in Texas for six consecutive months prior to filing.  If there are unusual circumstances, such as military service, this is something a lawyer can help you wade through.  Texas divorce laws also require a specific claim be filed as grounds for the divorce.  These include adultery, cruelty, and abandonment, but can also include felony conviction or long-term psychiatric confinement.  After the filing, additional steps may be needed.  Your lawyer can help you decide if there need be a restraining order, a freeze on assets, or a discovery meeting to determine if either spouse is hiding assets from the other.

 

Some Texas counties require that before a divorce case is heard in court, mediation must be undertaken.  This is sometimes referred to as alternative dispute resolution, and means that the couple must meet with a neutral mediator and attempt to resolve disputes regarding division of property, custody, or support payments.  An active pregnancy is considered a special case in terms of Texas divorce laws.  Many, if not most courts will not finalize a divorce if there is a pregnancy—even if the child is not the husband’s.  With this in mind, it may be advantageous to wait until the pregnancy is over before filing.

 

There are many applicable grounds covered by Texas divorce laws.  Texas is a no-fault state, so you do not need to prove someone is at fault to have your divorce granted. However, allegations of fault in the breakup of the marriage can impact the division of the estate, if proven. No-fault divorce is generally plead as an option, which means essentially the same as irreconcilable differences. 

 

After the petition for divorce is filed, it cannot legally be finalized for sixty days.  Exceptions to this law include domestic violation, voiding or annulling a marriage, and others.  A voidable marriage is one that Texas divorce laws define as not being legal from the outset.  This might apply to someone who lied about his or her age, or about being already married.  A marriage can be annulled if the marriage occurred under deception or duress.  An annulment means that legally, the marriage never happened.  Annulments are seldom given in marriages that have produced children, though every case is different.  An experienced family law attorney can advise you in what works best for your particular case.

 

If your marriage lasted ten years or longer, Texas divorce laws regarding spousal support payments (alimony) change significantly compared to those for shorter marriages.  Division of property can also vary greatly depending on the grounds for divorce, whether or not there are children, and how much money and property each spouse owns.  There are also matters of medical and other insurance, retirement funds, and legal fees.  If there are children involved, the whole thing becomes even more complicated.

 

Texas divorce laws are complex and varied.  For most people going through en emotionally stressful divorce, navigating these laws can seem next to impossible.  That’s why hiring an experienced family law attorney can be so beneficial.  A family lawyer will have intimate, detailed knowledge of existing divorce laws, and also know specifics about local judges and attorneys.  While you may have some difficulty even being in the same room as your soon-to-be former spouse, your lawyer will be free of emotional baggage and can concentrate on the specific legalities of your case.  If you are planning, or even considering a divorce, a free consultation with a family law attorney should be your first move.

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