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How Long Does It Take To Get A Divorce In Texas?

    

If you’re thinking about ending your marriage or you are currently in the middle of a divorce case, you and your spouse are likely wondering: “How long is this going to take?”

While any family law attorney will tell you there’s no one answer that universally applies to all couples going through the divorce process, below are the factors that will play into how long it takes.

Length Based on The Types of Divorce

In Texas, there are two types of divorce: contested divorce and uncontested divorce. Which camp you fall into will have a big impact on the length of the divorce proceedings.  

Contested Divorce

In a contested divorce, you and your spouse are in disagreement over issues such as fault, child custody, child support, spousal support/maintenance, division of marital property, etc.  

In a contested divorce, each side will likely need to be represented by a divorce lawyer, and the court will then eventually make the final decision on these issues on your behalf. 

It is possible to represent yourself “pro se”, but if you and your spouse are unable to work out these issues amongst yourselves, you’re likely going to want an attorney to represent you.

Uncontested Divorce

In an uncontested divorce (aka an “agreed divorce”), you and your spouse are able to reach a divorce settlement without the court’s intervention. 

An uncontested divorce is usually accomplished via a settlement agreement. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse may be able to avoid hiring an attorney altogether.

As you might guess, uncontested divorces are usually much faster than contested divorces. 

If you’re someone who has been googling, “quick divorce in Texas” or “how much is a quick divorce in Texas?”, you may want to see if you and your spouse can come to an agreement on these issues.

An uncontested divorce will likely keep your divorce costs down and help you get your divorce papers sooner! 

Factors Affecting Length of Divorce

Now that we have established the two general paths for you and your soon to be ex-spouse to embark on, let’s talk about the other factors that will impact the length of your Texas divorce.

Factor 1: No-Fault vs. Fault Divorce

The first divorce form to fill out to get your Texas divorce started (either by yourself or with the help of an attorney) is your divorce petition. 

On this form, you must select a ground for your divorce, which is essentially the reason you are giving the court for why you are ending the marriage.

Under Texas divorce law, the family code provides for seven grounds for divorce:

  1. Insupportability (aka no-fault)
  2. Cruelty
  3. Adultery
  4. Felony Criminal Conviction
  5. Abandonment
  6. Separation
  7. Confinement in a Mental Hospital

The first ground is a no-fault ground. If you’re selecting a no-fault ground, it’s likely going to speed up your divorce process.

However, if you are the filing spouse, you have the opportunity to allege fault on the part of your spouse as the reason for the marriage’s dissolution. The other six grounds listed above are all fault-based reasons for a Texas divorce.

A fault ground can satisfy a spouse who has been wronged or has experienced domestic violence. However, proving a fault ground to the court takes time and will likely prolong your divorce case.

If you are seeking a fault-based divorce, you will also likely want to hire an attorney who is experienced in family law in Texas.

Factor 2: Child Custody Disputes

Another big factor that affects the timeline of a divorce case is whether children are involved.

Custody issues and child support can bring a lot of emotions to the table that likely will lengthen the time it takes to finalize your divorce case. 

However, if you and your spouse are parents that are on the same page about custody, that will help speed up the divorce process with the court.

If there is a dispute as to child custody, there are two distinct kinds of custody you should know about: physical custody and legal custody.

Physical custody refers to where the children physically live, whereas legal custody refers to which parent has the authority to make legal decisions for the child. 

This can include things ranging from where the child attends school to making choices about medical treatment for the child.

It’s important to know that Texas courts presume that it is in the child’s best interest to have continuous contact with both parents, absent any factors that would make a parent unfit to care for the child. 

This means that the courts generally believe the child should be raised by both parents, if possible.

Therefore, unless there’s a history of abuse, it’s very hard to win sole custody. 

Again, you might want to consult an attorney familiar with Texas family law if you think that child custody or child support will be an issue in your divorce case.

That said, if you’re hoping to speed things along to get your divorce papers, you and your spouse will probably be better off if you remain flexible and come up with a child custody arrangement that is agreeable to both parents. 

Factor 3: Method of Dispute Resolution

Many people think of hiring an attorney and the long process of going to court as the only way to get divorced.

While going through the court system is the traditional way to go about getting your divorce decree, there are now several other methods of dispute resolution to consider.

Divorce Mediation 

Courts will often encourage and sometimes require parties that are in litigation to go to mediation. In mediation, a neutral third-party, the mediator, will facilitate you and your spouse reaching an agreement on your divorce terms.

Mediation can be a quicker and less expensive option than hiring an attorney, but the cost of mediation will be paid by you and your spouse.

Collaborative Divorce 

If you want some sort of professional other than a divorce attorney to help you through the negotiation process, another option to look into is collaborative divorce. It’s a combination of mediation and litigation.

Each side will have to hire an attorney, and it’s important to hire a lawyer that has experience in both family law and collaborative divorces. 

You will then hire a few different specialists, such as a child specialist or financial specialist to represent the interests of both you and your spouse. 

You will meet with the lawyers and specialists all together in a series of meetings to try to negotiate a resolution.

Online Divorce 

An increasingly popular option is an online divorce, using an online divorce service provider such as It’s Over Easy can help you file the paperwork. Some like to think of this as a DIY divorce with a little help.

This can save you the cost of attorney’s fees, court fees, and the headache of having to fill out your own divorce paperwork.

Online divorces are great options for spouses seeking an uncontested divorce because they can work out an agreement without the help of a lawyer. This can also help expedite the divorce process. 

DIY Divorce 

In a true DIY divorce, you and your spouse, without the help of lawyers, will be responsible for filing your divorce papers. 

If you are doing a DIY divorce, you will file your own forms with the district clerk, pay the filing fee, provide your spouse with legal notice, etc.

In a DIY divorce, you dramatically cut costs by not using lawyers, but the downside is that it’s a lot of work to take on your own!

Litigation 

Traditional litigation in the district court is always an option in Texas.

If you’re going the litigation route, it’s likely going to be easiest to hire a lawyer to represent you in court, but it’s not impossible to represent yourself. 

That said, it’s generally the longest road to your divorce decree because the court system can be slow.

Factor 4: The Division of Property

Texas is a community property state, which means that property acquired during marriage is considered property of the community and belongs to both spouses (regardless of title). As a result, any assets are generally divided 50/50.

However, if the funds can be traced to one spouse’s separate property, such as an inheritance, that may take time for the court and lawyers to sort out the paper trail.

Other asset issues that may come up are commingled bank accounts, assets tied to businesses, or when a couple has a significant amount of assets to divide.

If you and your spouse have a prenuptial agreement, the division of property may be smoother and speed up your divorce timeline.

Factor 5: Is Your Spouse Reasonable?

As you might have picked up on, the timeline for your divorce will ultimately come down to how reasonable you and your spouse can be. 

Many of these issues can be worked out if you and your spouse (or your lawyer and your spouse’s lawyer) are approaching the process reasonably.

Every couple’s divorce timeline is going to look different based on the specific issues being contested or uncontested, whether there are kids involved, what the community’s assets are like, etc.

Therefore, there’s no one size fits all to the question: How long does it take to get divorced in Texas?

However, at the end of the day, if you can be reasonable the process is usually going to be less painful and your divorce decree will then hopefully come sooner!

FAQs

Is There a Waiting Period for Divorce in Texas?

Yes, there is a 60-day waiting period in order to obtain a Texas divorce. 

How Long Do You Have to Be Separated Before You Can File for Divorce in Texas?

Texas does not recognize legal separation or informal separation. Therefore, there is no separation period necessary before filing for a divorce in Texas.

However, if you are claiming separation as the grounds for your fault-based divorce, then you must be separated from your spouse (aka living apart) for at least three years.

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Texas?

There are seven grounds for divorce under Texas law: Insupportability (no-fault divorce), cruelty, adultery, felony criminal conviction, abandonment, separation, and confinement in a Mental Hospital.

How Fast Can a Divorce Be Finalized in Texas?

In theory, since Texas has a 60-day waiting period, a divorce could be finalized in 61 days. However, realistically, most divorces take at least six months to one year before a court will grant the final decree.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Texas?

Each divorcing couple is different, so the cost of a divorce is difficult to predict and varies depending on how the above factors apply to your divorce case.

That said, according to a survey conducted by Martindale Nolo Research, the average cost of a divorce in Texas is approximately $15,600 if there are no children involved and $23,500 if children are involved.

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