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How Long Does It Take For A Divorce To Be Finalized?

man waiting for his divorce to end

Spouses do not make a trip down the aisle with the expectation that their relationship will end,, but the reality is that many couples will consider divorce. If you have realized that your marriage cannot be saved, it is understandable that you will want to move through the Texas divorce process as quickly as possible. Legally ending your marriage is emotionally challenging, but your post-divorce life represents a fresh start. New beginnings are something to look forward to, so you may be anxious to know how long it takes for divorce to be finalized. 

Unfortunately, it is not possible to give an exact date that a Texas divorce will conclude. Every case is different, and the legal issues that arise will impact the duration of the proceedings. However, you can gain some perspective on timing by reviewing the steps involved with most divorce cases, as well as some of the issues that can extend the proceedings. Your Texas divorce attorney will handle essential tasks along the timeline of a case, which include:

  1. Planning and Preparation: If there is one stage where you can help ensure a smooth divorce process, it is before filing for divorce. Besides hiring a lawyer, there are a few tasks that parties can undertake, either together or separately.
  • Opening separate accounts;
  • Creating a list of community and separate property;
  • Addressing care and support for minor children; and
  • Discussing post-divorce spousal support. 
  1. Initiating the Texas Divorce Case: Either spouse can file for divorce as petitioner; the other party is called the respondent. The petitioner’s documentation will include facts regarding the breakdown of the marital relationship, though it is not necessary to include grounds for divorce under Texas no-fault laws. After filing, the petitioner must properly serve the respondent with the pleadings and any notice of hearings or trial. In an uncontested divorce, the respondent can waive service of process without agreeing to any divorce-related issues. 
  1. Setting Up Temporary Orders: There will be some time lag between initiating divorce and entry of the final decree, so the parties can request that the court enter temporary orders. For instance:
  • A lower earning spouse may need spousal support while the divorce case is pending.
  • There must be an order in place regarding custody, parenting time, and support for minor children.
  • Parties can request the court to enter an order regarding who will reside in the family home, use certain vehicles, pay insurance, and manage community property during the case.
  1. Resolution of Divorce Issues: Though the details vary, the three key topics that arise in a Texas divorce case include:
  1. Property Division: Texas is a community property state, so assets are first categorized as marital or separate. Property is then subject to equitable distribution between the parties.
  2. Spousal support or alimony: One spouse may require support even after divorce, and there are numerous factors involved with determining the type, duration, and amount.
  3. Issues Related to Minor Children: Custody, visitation, and support will be key issues before the judge, who will decide them according to the child’s best interests standard.

In many cases, parties can agree on some of the details regarding these issues. The judge will typically approve an agreement for asset division and spousal support, but will conduct a more thorough review on matters that impact minor children. Any disputes may be resolved with help from your respective lawyers, and mediation is effective for remaining conflicts. However, when the parties remain in disagreement, the court will hold a contested hearing. This proceeding is similar to a trial, and the judge will issue a ruling at the conclusion.

  1. Entry of Final Divorce Decree: Whether divorce-related issues are resolved by agreement, the mediation process, or a contested hearing, the case concludes when the judge enters a final divorce decree. This document will include details on property division, alimony, and care and support for minor children. The court’s order has the legal effect of law, so there are consequences if a party violates the terms. It serves as the basis for an enforcement action. Plus, the divorce decree can also be modified by the parties, either by agreement or a hearing on proposed modifications.

A Texas Divorce Attorney Can Assist With Legal Requirements 

This overview of Texas laws is helpful for understanding how long it takes for a divorce to be finalized, even though it cannot provide specific dates for closing the case. Our skilled lawyers at The Ramos Law Group, PLLC are committed to ensuring an efficient process and overcoming challenges along the way. To learn more about our legal services, please contact our Houston, TX offices to set up a consultation with a member of our team.