Posted by Mary E. Ramos | Divorce
If you are thinking about ending your marriage, you have likely wondered how long divorce takes in Texas. The law in Texas places a mandatory 60-day waiting period on all divorce cases in the state and so, even the quickest divorce cases cannot be finalized until 61 days have passed from the date divorce papers were filed with the court. However, many divorce cases take a bit longer. In Texas, the majority of divorce cases take anywhere from six months to one year for couples to resolve all of their issues. Certain factors, such as substantial assets and child custody, are complex and can take a divorce to take longer.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Texas?
The quickest way to get a divorce in Texas is if you and your spouse can agree to all of the different terms of the case. These terms include asset division, child custody, child support, alimony, and more. If you and your spouse can agree to every term, you can get an uncontested divorce, which is much faster and less expensive than a contested divorce if you cannot agree.
Uncontested divorces still have the required 60-day waiting period. As such, you cannot obtain one until at least 61 days after one of you has filed papers with the court. However, most courts today are backlogged and have full dockets. Due to this, even an uncontested divorce will likely take at least a little longer than 61 days.
The Timeline of the Average Texas Divorce
Every marriage is unique and so too, is every divorce case. Still, using the below guideline for the average divorce process can help you determine how long your case may take.
Pre-filing is not an actual part of the legal process, but it is an important step. During this time, which will take a few weeks, you should seriously consider whether you want a divorce, unless you or your children are victims of domestic violence. You should also meet with a Texas divorce lawyer at this stage to discuss your legal options.
Filing the Petition
Either you or your spouse can file a petition with the court requesting that your marriage be dissolved. You must have lived in Texas for at least six months before you can file and have lived in the county where you file for at least 90 days. If you file the petition, you can also detail your requests for alimony, child support, and certain property. Filing the petition can take a few days.
Unless you or your children are suffering from abuse at the hands of your spouse, you will have to wait the required 60-day waiting period. If domestic violence is involved, the waiting period can be waived by a judge. It is important to note that there is no legal separation requirement in Texas so as long as you wait the 60 days, you can obtain a divorce.
After one party has filed the divorce petition with the court, the paperwork is served to the other spouse. The spouse who is served then has the opportunity to respond to the petition, as well as the requests and accusations within 20 to 28 days.
If you and your spouse cannot agree to all the terms of the divorce, you will have to obtain a contested divorce. Contested cases take much longer, as evidence must be collected, and negotiations must take place between the attorneys representing each side. Sometimes, lawyers will try to keep pushing back court dates so the other side will accept an unfair settlement. A contested divorce case can take anywhere between a few months to a couple of years, but the right attorney can make sure your case continues to move forward.
A judge may issue temporary orders at the beginning of a divorce case including those stating who can remain in the family home, how child and spousal support will be paid, and where the children will spend their time. It can take a few weeks for a judge to issue temporary orders.
During the final divorce hearing, a judgment is issued. Depending on the amount of evidence presented during the case, the final hearing could take a few days.
How Can an Attorney Expedite the Process?
While we have provided you with the basic timeline for divorce in Texas, an attorney may be able to help expedite the process depending on the facts of your case. Your divorce might be complex, and you might ask yourself daily, How long do divorces take in Texas? But a skilled lawyer can help guide you through solutions to achieving a more speedy divorce. Two of the fastest methods include filing an uncontested divorce and exploring alternative dispute resolution methods to speed up your case.
The quickest way to get a divorce in Texas is if you and your spouse can agree to all of the issues. These issues include asset division, child custody, child support, alimony, and more. If you and your spouse can come to an agreement on each of these issues, you can get an uncontested divorce. This process is much faster and less expensive than a contested divorce, where the couple cannot agree and must take the court to trial before a judge, who will make these decisions for them.
With the help of an attorney, you may be able to craft terms that can lead to an uncontested divorce. Speaking with an attorney before negotiating with your spouse can help you create a fair and reasonable plan for handling each issue in a way that you won’t regret later. The more prepared you are when you begin your discussions, the more likely you are to achieve a speedy and uncontested divorce. Even when tensions are high, having an attorney in the background coaching you and helping you create equitable plans for your assets, child custody, and finances can help you achieve a smooth dissolution of your union.
You can also help keep your uncontested divorce moving along smoothly by communicating clearly and effectively with your attorney. This will allow your attorney to promptly file any requested documents and avoid delays or miscommunications with the other side. In even the most amicable uncontested divorce, miscommunications can quickly derail an otherwise smooth process, so it is essential to keep your attorney in the loop and respond promptly to any requests for information.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Attorneys often guide couples into mediation, which is an alternative dispute resolution method that can save you from taking your case to trial. Even for couples whose divorces are contested, complex, or contentious, mediation can bring you closer to an agreement than you previously thought was possible. Mediation is a process where both spouses and their attorneys meet with a neutral third party—the mediator—to negotiate the details of an acceptable divorce. Often, mediators used in divorce cases are experienced attorneys who help the parties compromise to reach amicable solutions. Once you have reached an agreement on the issues, that agreement is committed to writing, and your attorney will work with your soon-to-be-former spouse’s attorney to draft the final decree of divorce.
What If I Suspect My Spouse Is Hiding Assets?
In contentious or contested divorces, spouses sometimes go out of their way to hide assets. In other cases, spouses simply forget that some assets exist. For instance, your spouse might have a forgotten 401(k) from an old job. In either case, these assets are properly part of the marital estate and need to be divided in your divorce.
If you have concerns that your spouse is deliberately or accidentally concealing assets, there are a few steps you can take to uncover any financial fraud. These steps include:
- Review all financial accounts, including any you currently have access to and any records you may have;
- Rely on the discovery process during the divorce, including making requests for court orders as appropriate; and
- Hire forensic accountants, private investigators, and forensic computer analysts as needed, especially if you feel that records might have been destroyed.
Divorces can bring up many hurt feelings, especially about money. It is important to hire professionals and not try to investigate these matters yourself. A skilled divorce attorney can help you navigate issues related to hidden assets. They can also recommend the best professionals to help you find any missing money.
You Can Trust Our Divorce Lawyers in Houston, Texas with Your Case
If you are getting a divorce, do not go through the process alone. At Ramos Law Group, PLLC, our Houston divorce lawyers can help you through the process so you can avoid unnecessary delays and get started with your new life as quickly as possible. Call us now at 713-225-6200 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and to learn more.
Last Updated on April 28, 2023 by Mary E. Ramos