A divorce in Texas is begun by the filing of a petition. The spouse who files is called the petitioner. The other spouse, called the respondent, has the opportunity to answer and respond in the case. You can find Texas divorce forms on the state court website and the state law library site.
Texas Residency Requirement
As in every state, there are certain criteria you have to meet before you can file for divorce. In order to file for a Texas divorce, one or both partners must have lived in Texas for at least six months and in the county where the divorce is filed for at least 90 days.
In many states, the partners are required to have lived separately for some period of time (often six or 12 months), but in Texas a couple could still live together even during the divorce proceedings.
Serving Your Spouse in Texas
The petitioner must have the divorce papers legally served on the respondent in Texas. This can be done in person or by certified mail. If those methods are not possible, the court may allow substituted service by email or social media.
Texas Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce
Texas does not require blame or fault for the divorce. No-fault divorce can be obtained when the marriage is insupportable, defined as when there is discord or conflict and no expectation of reconciliation. This is the easiest reason to seek a divorce and no proof is necessary.
It is also possible to seek a fault divorce by proving fault with one of the following grounds:
- Cruelty. One spouse is guilty of cruel treatment such that living together becomes unbearable.
- Adultery. One spouse cheats on the other.
- Conviction of a felony. One spouse is convicted of a felony, imprisoned for at least one year, and not pardoned. However, the spouse filing for divorce cannot use this ground for divorce if their testimony contributed to the conviction of their spouse.
- Abandonment. One spouse abandoned the other with the intention of abandonment, and has been gone for at least one year.
- Living apart. The spouses lived apart for three years without cohabitation.
- Confinement in a mental hospital. One spouse has been confined to a mental hospital for at least three years and it appears that they will either not recover or are likely to recover and then relapse.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Texas
Divorce in Texas can be contested or uncontested. A contested divorce is one in which you and your spouse cannot agree on at least one issue in the divorce. Because you cannot reach a settlement, you must go to trial and let the judge decide how to resolve these issues.
An uncontested divorce occurs in one of two situations:
- The petitioner files for divorce and the respondent never answers or appears in court. The petitioner then asks the court for what they want and the court decides based only on the information the petitioner provides.
- The spouses agree about all of the issues in the divorce and file a settlement or agreement with the court which becomes the judgment of divorce.