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Understanding the process for initiating a divorce in Texas

You have finally decided to end your marriage, and a feeling of relief comes over you as a result. However, your first question is, how exactly do you get a divorce in Texas?

The process you use to end your marriage in the Lone Star State will depend on a number of factors, including why you are breaking up and whether you have children. Here is a look at some of the potential options you may have for your divorce:

Texas residency requirements for those interested in divorce

Before you can get divorced in Texas, you must meet specific residency requirements. For one, either you or the other party must have lived in the state for a minimum of six months. In addition, either you or the other party must have lived for three months in the state's county where your divorce filing will take place.

Proceeding with an uncontested divorce

You and your future ex-spouse may be eligible for an uncontested divorce if you meet the following criteria:

  • You both are in agreement about ending your marriage.
  • You do not have a bankruptcy case that is ongoing.
  • You are not seeking alimony.
  • You do not have jointly owned property or retirement benefits you would need to split.
  • You do not have any minor children.

If you meet these criteria and agree on all of your divorce's terms, you can simply complete divorce papers and then wait 61 days (a cooling-off time period) for your divorce to be finalized. After you have finalized your divorce, either of you can appeal the divorce within a 30-day timespan. During this period, neither of you can re-marry.

Proceeding with a contested divorce

If you are not eligible for an uncontested divorce, you must file your divorce petition in your county and then serve your petition to your spouse. You can also request a TRO, or temporary restraining order, to keep your future ex from eliminating, spending or destroying your marital property. Next, your spouse must respond to your petition and TRO within 20 days and the following Monday.

Both you and your spouse must then submit documents regarding your claimed assets and expenses. If you have not found common ground in areas such as alimony or property division, you can seek to resolve these issues through mediation. If your mediation attempts are not successfully, you can go to trial to have a judge decide how to handle these matters for you and finalize your divorce. The 61-day cooling-off time period and the 30-day appeal period that applies to an uncontested divorce also applies to contested divorces in Texas.

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