Dallas Divorce Attorneys
Finding the Best Path Forward in Your Divorce. Serving Clients in Dallas and Austin, TX.
The outcome of your divorce could change your life - as evidenced by the countless divorce horror stories that litter magazines and legal publications. When familial relationships and your financial health are on the line, you need legal counsel you can trust at your side.
Our Dallas divorce attorneys understand how daunting filing for a divorce can be. We'll work with you to navigate the process and pursue an optimal outcome in your case, whether that means negotiating a more amicable arrangement with your soon-to-be-ex or litigating the process in court.
The Requirements to File for a Divorce in TX
To file for divorce in Texas, you or your spouse must be a resident of the state for at least six months. Additionally, at least one spouse must live in the county where the divorce is filed.
Texas accepts both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce, making it different than some states that only use no-fault laws.
If you file for a no-fault divorce, you simply have to cite that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and filing for divorce is in both parties' best interests.
Alternatively, you can file for a fault-based divorce by citing one of the following grounds as the reason for dissolving your marriage:
- Cruel treatment or abuse;
- Felony conviction;
- Abandonment for at least a year prior to filing; or
- Institutionalization for at least three years.
It's important to note that if you file for a fault-based divorce, you will need to prove the fault you allege to finalize your marriage's dissolution. As a result, most Texans choose to file for a no-fault divorce.
Filing for Divorce in Texas
The individual who files for divorce with the county court is called the "petitioner," and their spouse is the "respondent" throughout the divorce process.
A divorce filing contains four different forms:
- A Petition for Divorce (including a Summons for the other party);
- A Citation (or Waiver);
- A Notice of Service of Process;
- A Decree of Divorce.
A divorce attorney can help you fill out and file these forms correctly. The forms contain information that informs the court of your circumstances (such as financial information, a list of separate and community property, etc.), as well as your proposed terms for the divorce.
After filing for divorce, you must serve the divorce forms to your spouse, so they know you've filed for divorce and understand the proposed terms of the divorce.
If your spouse is amicable and you're filing for an uncontested divorce, they may choose to waive the need for service. Alternatively, you can serve them by having one of the following entities notify them of the divorce:
- A sheriff or constable;
- A paid process server;
- A publication.
Utilizing a sheriff or process server is typically more reliable than utilizing a publication.
After being served, the respondent has 20 days to file an Answer. They can utilize the answer to oppose the terms proposed by the petitioner. How the divorce proceeds after the respondent either waives the service or files an Answer depends on the kind of divorce you want to obtain.
Uncontested Vs. Contested Divorce in Texas
If you and your spouse agree on terms for the divorce, you can file for an uncontested divorce. This involves working together to draft an agreement that lays out terms for processes such as property division, child custody and support, and spousal maintenance.
If a judge approves the agreement after examining it, they can sign it and issue an official decree that finalizes the divorce.
Alternatively, if you and your spouse disagree on any aspect of the divorce, you must file for a contested divorce. This involves attending court hearings to set up temporary orders that govern how issues like spousal maintenance or custody are handled during the divorce. Afterward, the parties attend a trial where they present their cases to the court.
After assessing the evidence, the court will draft a divorce decree establishing terms for the divorce and finalizing the dissolution of the marriage.
Alternative Methods to Divorce
Frequently, contested divorces transition into uncontested divorces through the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation and collaborative law.
Uncontested divorces are typically easier and cheaper to resolve than contested divorces, but sometimes a party may need the additional legal security provided by filing for a contested divorce.
At DebnamRust, P.C., our Dallas divorce attorneys are here to analyze your divorce and identify the best path forward. We'll work with you to develop a case strategy tailored to your needs.