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Texas Divorce Laws

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Texas Divorce Laws:

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE:

Either spouse must be a resident for at least six months and resided in the county where the petition is filed for at least 90 days. The divorce petition is filed with the District Court of the county where either party lives. [Based on Texas Statutes; Family Code, Chapter 6.301].

LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:

On the petition of either party to a marriage, the court may grant a divorce without regard to fault on the basis of irreconcilable differences. A divorce may also be granted on the following fault basis: (1) Cruelty, (2) Adultery, (3) Conviction of a felony, (4) Abandonment, (5) Confinement in a mental hospital, (6) Living apart without cohabitation for at least 3 years. [Based on Texas Statutes; Family Code, Chapter 6.001 through 6.007]

LEGAL SEPARATION:

Texas does not have specific provisions for a legal separation, but allows for temporary orders to be filed at the time the divorce is filed. In cases where the parties have filed for a divorce or civil annulment, the spouses may enter into a written agreement concerning the division of the property and the liabilities of the spouses and maintenance of either spouse. This agreement may be revised or rejected before rendition of the divorce or annulment unless the agreement is binding under another rule of law. [Based on Texas Statutes; Family Code, Chapter 7.006]

SIMPLIFIED OR SPECIAL DIVORCE PROCEDURES:

On written agreement of the parties, the court may refer a suit for dissolution of a marriage to arbitration (the agreement must state whether the arbitration is binding or nonbinding), mediation, or conducted under collaborative law procedures.

On the written agreement of the parties or on the court's own motion, the court may refer a suit for dissolution of a marriage to mediation. [Based on Texas Statutes; Family Code, Chapter 6.601, 6.602, 6.603].

MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS:

While a divorce suit is pending, the court may direct the parties to counseling. The counselor shall give only an opinion as to whether there exists a reasonable expectation of reconciliation of the parties and, if so, whether further counseling would be beneficial. If the court believes that there is a reasonable expectation of the parties' reconciliation, the court may by written order continue the proceedings and direct the parties to a person named by the court for further counseling for a period fixed by the court not to exceed 60 days, subject to any terms, conditions, and limitations the court considers desirable.

If the court orders counseling under this section and the parties to the marriage are the parents of a child under 18 years of age born or adopted during the marriage, the counseling shall include counseling on issues that confront children who are the subject of a suit affecting the parent-child relationship. [Based on Texas Statutes; Family Code, Chapter 6.505]

PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION:

Texas is a community property state. In a decree of divorce or annulment, the court shall order a division of the estate of the parties in a manner that the court deems just and right, having due regard for the rights of each party and any children of the marriage. Property that would be considered marital property (whether acquired in the state or not) is subject to division. Property that would be considered separate property (whether acquired in the state or not) is not subject to division.

In a decree of divorce or annulment, the court shall determine the rights of both spouses in a pension, retirement plan, annuity, individual retirement account, employee stock option plan, stock option, or other form of savings, bonus, profit-sharing, or other employer plan or financial plan of an employee or a participant, regardless of whether the person is self-employed, in the nature of compensation or savings. In a decree of divorce or annulment, the court shall specifically divide or award the rights of each spouse in an insurance policy. [Based on Texas Statutes; Family Code, Chapter 7.002, 7.003 and 7.004]

ALIMONY/MAINTENANCE/SPOUSAL SUPPORT:

The court may order maintenance for either spouse only if:

  • The spouse is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability.
  • Is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because a physical or mental disability makes it necessary, taking into consideration the needs of the child, that the spouse not be employed outside the home.
  • Clearly lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to provide support for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs.

Maintenance/Spousal Support is based on:

  • The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including the community and separate property and liabilities apportioned to that spouse in the dissolution proceeding, and that spouse's ability to meet the spouse's needs independently.
  • The education and employment skills of the spouses, the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of that education or training, and the feasibility of that education or training.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
  • The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is requested to meet that spouse's personal needs and to provide periodic child support payments, if applicable, while meeting the personal needs of the spouse seeking maintenance.
  • Acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditures or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property, joint tenancy, or other property held in common.
  • The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including medical, retirement, insurance, or other benefits, and the separate property of each spouse.
  • The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse.
  • The property brought to the marriage by either spouse.
  • The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.
  • Marital misconduct of the spouse seeking maintenance.
  • The efforts of the spouse seeking maintenance to pursue available employment counseling.

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