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How to File for Divorce in Texas

When you want to know how to file for divorce in Texas, it’s important to have an advocate on your side. Contact the Houston family law attorneys at Nguyen & Chen for guidance and empathy. Schedule a free consultation today. 

Are you contemplating a divorce in Texas? It’s common to have an array of questions swirl through your mind. Often, people are unfamiliar with the divorce process in Houston and Texas overall. 

Unfortunately, many people don’t learn about the Texas divorce process until they find themselves in the middle of it. However, our legal team wants to offer a guide on how to get a divorce in Texas. 

Below, we take a look at Texas divorce and how to move forward with your case.

Reasons and Requirements in Texas

A major aspect of how to file for divorce in Texas is that at least one party must have lived in the state for at least six months before you file papers. Additionally, one person must have lived in the county that you file in for at least 90 days. 

This falls under Tex. Fam. Code § 6.301.

Moreover, Texas is a mixed state. This means it allows for people to file for fault-based and no-fault divorce. Generally, fault-based divorce is quite rare because it requires someone to prove the other committed a wrongful act. 

On the other hand, a no-fault divorce means the parties proceed with a divorce without blame on either side. This helps everyone avoid dredging up intimate details about their relationship. Instead, you state that the marriage is “insupportable” due to personal conflicts and discord. 

Should you choose to file for fault, there are several options available. 

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment for at least one year 
  • Cruel treatment 
  • Felony conviction 
  • Confinement in a mental institution for at least 3 years

How to File for Divorce: Preparing Forms

To begin the Texas divorce process, you have to file several forms. While the Texas Supreme Court has a uniform list of forms, some counties prefer their local versions. When you work with an experienced divorce attorney, they help you navigate the paperwork. 

Typically, the initial filing requires the following forms. 

  • Original Petition for Divorce (including the Summons)
  • Citation 
  • Notice of Service of Process 
  • Divorce Decree

Filing Your Papers

Once you have all the necessary forms, your attorney files them with the county. Per Texas law, you also have the option to ask the court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order. This prevents both parties from moving, selling, or diminishing shared property. 

Moreover, this restraining order provides instructions for both parties to behave with civility. When you request a Temporary Restraining Order, you have to schedule a hearing within 14 days. If you decline this option, the other party has 20 days to file their response. 

Serving Divorce Papers

Texas law requires that you notify the other party that you have filed for divorce. When it comes to how to file for divorce, this is known as “Service of Process.” It involves delivering copies of all the relevant documents to the other party. 

In Texas, there are several methods of delivery available. 

  • Process server
  • Waiver 
  • Constable or sheriff service
  • Service by publication

When the spouse is amicable towards the process, you can ask them to waive this requirement. To do so, they sign a form acknowledging receipt of the initial filing. 

However, when this is not possible, people often opt for constable service or a private process server. With these options, the constable is less expensive. Unfortunately, it is often much slower than the process server. 

How you file for divorce is up to you. Moreover, your lawyer can help you decide the best option for your situation. 

In some cases, the spouse filing for divorce is unsure how to contact the other side. For such circumstances, Texas allows service by publication. Oftentimes, this is quite expensive because it requires you to publish the notice of the divorce in the local newspaper. 

Financial Disclosure and Divorce

When it comes to how to file for divorce, this stage is often a bit tricky. Most counties in Texas require parties to exchange financial information. This form is the Sworn Inventory and Appraisement. 

Through this document, you list your investment accounts, retirement accounts, bank accounts, real estate, business information, and more. The goal of this disclosure is to help both parties identify essential property issues. 

Related Reading: Hidden Assets: Is Your Spouse Hiding Money?

How to File for Divorce: Do I Need a Lawyer?

Generally speaking, when you want to know how to file for divorce, it’s a good idea to work with a lawyer. This is because the Texas divorce process is a formal legal process. It comes with specific requirements and paperwork. 

Often, this is overwhelming, confusing, and intimidating for people without legal experience. Additionally, it’s important to remember that a divorce involves crucial, important aspects of your life. 

  • Children 
  • Finances 
  • Real estate 
  • Other valuable assets

To ensure a fair process and to protect your rights, it’s a good idea to work with an experienced divorce attorney. 

Per the Texas Office of Court Administration, it’s recommended that anyone involved in a divorce consult a family law attorney. Moreover, legal representation is especially crucial in the following circumstances. 

  • Parties do not agree on impactful divorce issues such as custody, alimony, and division of property. 
  • The case involves domestic violence or threats of violence. 
  • Your spouse has legal representation. 
  • The divorce involves valuable community assets. 
  • One spouse has a high amount of debt. 
  • You require alimony to support your life after the divorce. 
  • One party filed for bankruptcy or plans to do so. 
  • You have a child who has special needs. 
  • There is a child from the marriage, but you are not legally recognized as a parent. 

While the divorce process does not require a lawyer by law, it is a good idea to have an advocate on your side. Even people in simple, uncontested divorces work with a legal team.