Divorce in Texas can be difficult. A couple sits on the couch with a divorce lawyer.



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How quickly can my divorce be final? in Texas?

The first consideration in determining the potential duration of a divorce proceeding is to have established what is called jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is the state’s authority to hear certain cases, including divorce cases, and is determined by certain residency requirements. At least one spouse must be a resident of the state for a minimum of six months and a resident of a particular county for a minimum of 90 days, prior to filing for divorce. This is called subject-matter jurisdiction. Still, if one spouse has no presence in Texas at the time the divorce is filed, the Court may lack personal jurisdiction, meaning the Court will be able to grant a divorce, but may not be able to divide all property, community liabilities, or issue custody orders.

Filing a Petition for Divorce

Once jurisdiction is established, a Petition for Divorce may be filed. The Texas Family Code provides that a required waiting period (sometimes referred to as a ‘cooling off’ period) of no less than 60 days elapse from the date of the filing of the Original Petition for Divorce and the Court’s entry of the Final Decree of Divorce. This means that your divorce will not be granted in less than 61 days from the first day the petition is filed. However, the Court may waive this waiting period and grant a divorce only under two extraordinary circumstances: (1) the Respondent has been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for an offense involving family violence against the Petitioner or a member of the Petitioner’s household; or (2) the Petitioner has an active protective order based on a finding of family violence, against the Respondent, because of family violence committed during the marriage.

After a Petition for Divorce is filed with the Court, a citation is requested that will facilitate the Petition for Divorce to be personally served on the Respondent. Often, this process will take less than a week and the Respondent then is required to file an answer with the Court on or before 10:00 a.m. on the first Monday following the 20th day after receiving the citation. A Respondent who does not file an answer with the Court risks the Court entering a default judgment against them that usually grants the Petitioner all of the reasonable relief requested in their Petition. However, significant delays can occur if the Respondent is unable to be located and/or evades personal service. There are vehicles to obtain alternative service, but only by Court order, and at the time and expense of the Petitioner.  

Amicable spouses also have the option to choose to avoid personal service by the Respondent voluntarily signing a “Waiver of Service”, which notifies the Court that the Respondent has received a copy of the Petition for Divorce and requests the Court to notify the Respondent of any hearings or trial, and ensures that no orders will be entered by the Court without Respondent’s receiving proper notice.

Establishing Temporary Orders

Typically, if the spouses own real and/or personal property and/or if there are children of the marriage, the Petition for Divorce will request Temporary Orders be established to secure the financial responsibilities of the parties’ regarding the marital estate and to provide for temporary conservatorship of, possession and access to, and for the support for the children of the marriage. Temporary Orders are often invaluable to maintain civility during the divorce process.

Most Texas Courts will require the spouses to exchange Inventories and Appraisements of all of the spouses’ marital assets and liabilities. Following this exchange, and any potential but necessary discovery, the case will likely be scheduled for mediation in attempts to settle disputes without the intervention of the Court. If the case settles during mediation, an irrevocable Mediated Settlement Agreement is signed and filed with the Court that includes all of the parties’ agreements.  If the parties are unable to reach a settlement in mediation, then the case will proceed to a final trial before the Court. Often, it can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months to obtain a trial setting, due to the Court’s backlog of cases.

Drafting the Final Decree can Take Time

Whether the divorce disputes are settled informally, during mediation, or by the Court’s ruling, a Final Decree of Divorce must be drafted, the language approved by both sides, and finally, approved and signed by the Court. It is rare that a divorce is granted on the 61st day. A relatively simple divorce will likely take 3-5 months and a standard divorce 6 to 9 months. It is not unusual for a complicated and highly contested divorce to take 2 years or more to become final.

Having an experienced and dedicated legal team on your side during the highly emotional and lengthy process of divorce is vital. The Barrows Firm will support you during every step along the way with compassion, dignity, and honesty. Contact us today.

“I really feel like National Adoption Day is one of those rare occasions when we, as lawyers, can go down to the family law courthouse and provide the most wonderful service to these families. Bringing adoptive parents and foster children together and into permanent homes is among the most rewarding things I get to do.  All of the members of my firm participate in this special event, which means we actually shut down the office for the morning on National Adoption Day.” 

–Attorney Leslie Barrows

For more information about getting a divorce in Texas, contact Attorney Leslie Barrows through our contact form or by calling 817-481-1583.

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