The Basics Of Divorce In Texas

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Filing Jurisdiction / Venue

To file for divorce, you must have lived in Texas for at least 6 months and lived in the county where the divorce is filed for least 90 days.

Waiting Period

A court cannot grant a divorce until the case has been on file for 60 days. (There is an exception for cases involving domestic violence.) Most divorces take much longer than that. The court can make temporary orders, which govern the parties’ relationship while the divorce case is pending. These cover child support, child custody, use of property, payment of attorney’s fees, and other issues. Temporary orders end when the divorce is final.

Division Of Property (Community Property State):

Texas is a community-property state. Community property includes almost all property acquired during the marriage: income, wages, savings, bank accounts, retirement, vehicles, land, houses, dishes, furniture, tools, electronics, and some business and partnership assets. In most cases, it does not matter which spouse purchased the property or whose name is on the account. There are two general types of separate property: property that a spouse owned before the marriage; and property that a spouse acquires during the marriage by gift, inheritance, or, sometimes, as part of a personal-injury settlement.

The law does NOT require the court to divide property equally. Instead, the court must divide the property in a way that is “just and right.” The court can order the sale of property, divide retirement benefits, and decide who gets which vehicle.

Like property, a court will also divide debt in a divorce. Debt includes money owed on mortgages, car notes, credit cards, personal loans, student loans, and hospital bills. Like property, debt can be community or separate. Like property, the court must make a “just and right” division (not necessarily an equal division) of debt. The court can order each spouse to pay certain debts, but it cannot order a creditor to remove the other spouse’s name from the debt or loan.

Spousal Maintenance

A court can order temporary spousal support while the divorce is pending. In some cases, a court can also order spousal maintenance be paid as part of a divorce. The Texas Family Code contains the requirements to qualify for spousal support and guidelines for calculating that support. Parties sometimes agree to spousal maintenance as part of a divorce settlement.

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