How does divorce work in Texas?
There are three basic phases:
1. One spouse (the Petitioner) files a suit for divorce in court. The other spouse (the Respondent) must receive legal notice that the suit has been filed. Once the notice occurs, the clock begins to run on the waiting period. In Texas, the minimum time from notice to finalization is 60 days. However, due to complicated matters like custody, real estate, etc., I have rarely seen a divorce proceed that quickly.
2. Once the filing/notice have been completed, the parties enter a phase called the pendency of the divorce. This is just a fancy word for the time period during which you’re waiting to get divorced. During the pendency, neither spouse can act to harm the schedule of any child(ren), damage any communal credit or waste communal assets. Sometimes it is necessary to go to court for Temporary Orders to clarify what everyone is supposed to do.
During the pendency you and your lawyer work with the other spouse and his/her attorney to determine things like visitation and custody, child support, and division of property. These things can be determined privately with your attorneys, with the help of a mediator, or in the cases where agreement cannot be reached, with Orders from a hearing in court.
3. Once the final Orders are established, the finalization can take place and the divorce is complete. There may still be final documents (car title transfers for example), and your lawyer prepares these as part of the process.
How long will my divorce really take?
This question is difficult to answer because it is dependent on the personalities of the spouses and the complexity of their marital estate. On average however, I would say 3-6 months. (When there are children involved, the case length tends towards the longer number.)
How much will my divorce cost?
Again because of the factors listed above, this question is almost impossible to answer, but our firm will work with you to get the closest estimate to your particular situation during our consultation. I work on an hourly basis, but can very often gauge how long it is likely to take me to work given your personal issues. I can also guarantee that I will never surprise you with costs or fees; we will always discuss them beforehand.
Can I make my spouse pay for my part of the divorce?
That depends on the work arrangements during the marriage, and sometimes, whether there was misconduct in the marriage. Often each party pays their own costs.
Is there alimony in Texas?
Yes, but it is somewhat limited. You must have been married over ten years, be able to prove spousal violence, have a limiting physical or mental condition, or care for a child with special needs that prevents you from working. The amount of time it lasts often depends on the length of the marriage.
How does adoption work?
There are a number of ways to achieve an adoption in Texas. I often recommend working with a licensed child-placing agency, but I still perform the legal tasks from terminating the biological parents’ rights to finalizing the addition to your family. In any case, you must have a home study, and the child must be in the adoptive home for at least six months before finalization can occur.