Texas Divorce Process

TEXAS DIVORCE BASICS

Names of the Parties: The spouse that files the petition for divorce (i.e. initiates the divorce with the court) is known as the "Petitioner". The other spouse is known as the "Respondent".

Jurisdiction: Texas courts only have jurisdiction to grant divorces for Texas residents. So, one of the spouses must be a Texas resident for 6 months prior to the date the petition for divorce is filed in Texas.

Venue: At least one spouse must reside in the county where the divorce is filed for at least 90 days prior to the filing of the divorce petition.

No Fault: Texas is a No Fault Divorce State. "No Fault" means that one spouse DOES NOT have to prove the other spouse has done anything wrong in order to obtain a divorce. You CAN NOT be held in a marriage if the other spouse does not want to sign or refuses to participate in the divorce process.

Cooling Off Period: Texas courts cannot grant a divorce until 61 days have passed from the date the petition was filed. This cooling off period supposedly helps couples who change their mind.

Appeal Period: After the divorce decree is signed by the judge, each spouse can technically file an appeal for 30 days. As such, neither spouse can get married until the divorce decree is final (30 days has elapsed from the date in which the judge signed divorce decree).

Grounds for a divorce in Texas

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment
  • Confinement for incurable insanity for three years
  • Conviction of a felony and imprisonment for over one year
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment.
  • Insupportability - This is the catchall that almost all divorces are filed under. Insupportability means “discord or conflict of personalities” that has prevented any “reasonable expectation of reconciliation.”

STEP ONE: WHERE TO START?

STEP TWO: LEGAL NOTICE

STEP THREE: CONTESTED or UNCONTESTED?

STEP FOUR: DETERMINE WHICH ROAD TO TAKE?

STEP FIVE: NEGOTIATING THE THREE BIG ISSUES

STEP SIX: COURT

242 Comments
  1. *If I move from the shared address and out of the county the divorce petition was originally filed, do I have to notify the district county clerk of my change in address? Do I have to notify my soon to be ex-husband, the responded?

  2. Together 12 years, married 1.5 yrs. (4 children involved ages 6 to 15). One day wife says “we should do our own thing” then proceeds to “go out all night” during a weekend x2-3 weeks. then one day says, “aren’t you going to leave?” husband leaves home but financially supports wife for the kids. wife then tells husband shes planning on filling for divorce and she is dating someone new. Can husband file for adultery? No legal separation on file.

    • Either spouse can seek a divorce. There are various grounds for divorce including adultery.

  3. I filed for divorce and paid a lawyer $5000. I haven’t turned in anymore paperwork and am now having second thoughts. Can I get part of that $5000 back?

    We want to try counseling. :/

    • You can always ask, but I would guess some of that $5,000 will have been “earned” and therefore not refundable. Good luck!

  4. How would I go about doing this as service member living in Virginia but we were married in the great state of Texas? I really cant afford to travel back and forth for different signings and court dates.

    • You may be able to file in either state. You can e-file most of the documents, but if the divorce is filed in Texas one spouse will need to appear in court (one time) to prove up the divorce.

  5. Do i have to list properties to be devided among us before filing with the courts

    • You’ll need to list properties in the decree (not the petition).

  6. I have an Oklahoma license but I have been back in Texas for years. Are there other ways I can prove my county citizenship outside of my ID?

    • You should be able to file your divorce in Texas after alleging your reside in Texas in the Petition.

  7. my husband and I have been separated for over 4 years I do not know where he is and did speak to him about divorcing and he stated he didn’t need to sign anything to just file it. How does that work seeing is no where to be found and already said he doesn’t need to sign to just file it

    • You can file for divorce with just your signature. You’ll have to provide notice of the divorce and then if he doesn’t file an answer, you can get the divorce “by default”. It is not legally required, but we recommend that you hire an attorney to help give proper notice and prepare the default documents.

  8. My Ex filed a divorce petition back in march 30, 2015 and i never replied back or anything i just let it pass and left it like that and never spoke to him again.. and now i want to divorce so i can remarry. What should i do?

    • You may need to file your own divorce if your spouse never filed the divorce papers or is not pursuing.

  9. I have yet to file for divorce. Wife moved out in November, We both now live in a different county then we married in.

    Two questions

    Since we have not been living together since November, would this time go towards the cooling off period? Or does that time period start after filing for divorce?

    Since we live in a different county, must I wait the 90 day period before I file?
    Thanks

    • The cooling off period starts on the date the divorce is filed (not the separation date). You can’t file in a county until one spouse has lived there for at least 90 days.

  10. Husband and I originally were divorcing uncontested – no children, no assets. He lives out of state and signed a waiver. He has received a copy of the final divorce decree but is refusing to sign and will not further communicate with me. Any suggestions?

    • Hire an attorney to assist you in finalizing the divorce “by default” (assuming your spouse never filed an answer/response).

  11. I have filed my divorce in the state of texas and now I have had to file the publication by citation. My question is how long after can I schedule my court hearing for the final divorce. The 60 days for my divorce is now.

    • After legal notice is given, you’ll need to wait until after the Monday following the 20th day after service was completed (via publication). Check with your local court, they will likely have certain days/times designated for divorce “prove-up” hearings.

  12. My husband will not sign and if served by a court officer or police officer he will ignore it even if he gets served. Will I still need to hire an attorney if he just chooses to not respond after being served?

    • You will be able to get a divorce “by default” if your spouse is properly served and does not file a response. The paperwork is more complex than an agreed divorce and as such, it is recommended that you hire a local divorce attorney to help you present the decree to the court.

  13. I filed a petition for divorce (uncontested) December 21, 2016 and paid to have the District Court Clerk serve my spouse in an adjacent county. To date, she hasn’t been served and has since been arrested and transferred to the Texas Department of Corrections. What should I do next to complete the process ?

    • Have the constable in the county where she is located coordinate with the warden to get her served.

  14. My soon to be ex-husband and I are planing on filing the divorce ourselves. We’ve been separated, and living in two different places.We have agreed the our child will continue to stay with me, and share joint custody..I really don’t want to put him on child support. But I am the only one who provides for our child, and was the sole provider throughout most of our marriage..What are my best options for this situation.??

    • It sounds like the terms of the divorce will be agreed to by both spouses. If my assumption is true, you may be able to use divorce forms to complete your divorce without an attorney.

    • I agree with TxDivorce, printable divorce forms are very easy to fill out when both parties come up with agreed upon terms. My situation is extremely similar to yours. We were separated and decided that it was time to make it legal. We printed the documents from the county website, filled out the original petition, we had no REAL property and I opted not to include child support. He filed on Feb 17, I signed the waiver, and on April 27 I went to the court to “prove-up” our divorce. Since it was uncontested either party could go before the judge. We split the initial $292 filing fee, so all-in-all my divorce cost me a whopping $146. Also, in the event that you feel child support is necessary you can still file.

      • Good job, Erica! Many spouses are nervous about doing their divorce without an attorney…I’m glad you saved money and joined the growing group of spouses who opt for an uncontested divorce.

  15. I am sending my ex husband the final divorce order to be signed… Does it need to be dated for the actual date signed or does it need to reflect the 1st day after the 61 day waiting period? Anyone know?

    • The divorce decree can be signed by the spouses anytime. The judge can’t/won’t sign the divorce decree until the 61st day after the filing of the petition for divorce.

  16. If my wife files for divorce and then won’t set the final court date, how can I get the date set? If I file myself, does the 60 day waiting period start all over again?

    • The 60 day clock would not start over if you filed a counter-petition for divorce in the same case. The final court date in an uncontested divorce may not need to be “set” if both spouses have signed the divorce decree. You could find out when the uncontested docket is heard and show up with the fully executed divorce decree and ask the court to sign off (No need to file a counter-petition in this case).

  17. my spouse is in prison in Beaumont TX, Do the waiver of citation need to be notarized? Can I mail the wavier of citation (certified mail) to him if I believe he will sign it

    • Yes, the waiver needs to be notarized. Assuming your spouse will ultimately sign the waiver, there is no required way to send it to him (whatever works). You may want to present him with a divorce decree to see if he will sign the decree too.

  18. Me an my spouse have been separated for 17 years,after 4 attempts at getting her help for depression, as soon as she get finished with the program she falls into depression again and I had enough so I separated from her because she failed me as a wife. Although she is completely blind, I filed for a divorce under the decree martial unfaitfulness,I live in the state of Texas and as I stated we have been separated for 17 years and she nor her family have not asked me for any type of support. I truly believe I have grounds for a divorce because her stupid problems are first and i,m second and I have had enough. Will I have to pay her any type of support, she failed me I did not fail her.

    • Grounds for divorce are not necessary in Texas. If you prove certain grounds for divorce it could have a financial effect. You’ll want to speak with an attorney for sure.

  19. I live in a different state than my ex (them Texas, me in Virginia), I am wanting the divorce as much as them, and they filed with an attorney. I don’t have one nor can I make it to Texas due to work, the issue is their terms and what they are wanting is ridiculous and vengeance based, but because cannot come to an agreement they are now threatening to take it before a judge and claim it is “uncontested”. Are they able to do this and/or is there anything I can do to avoid being stuck with their terms? Etc. Thank you in advance

  20. Once the divorce/ annulment is final does the petitioner have to give a copy of the final decree to the respondent. If the respondent is not present to attend the court date.

    • You’d like to get a copy of the divorce decree to the respondent, if possible. Some courts may handle this for you, but you should check with your local court or a local attorney familiar with the local courts.

  21. Was married in 1998 separated in 2004. We have lived apart for 12 years now I live in Texas found him in Mississippi said would sign papers what was his is and mine is mine. now unable to find him..we have absolutely nothing together. All I want is my divorce. What do I do and the cost. No kids, no property

    • If you can get your spouses signature on the divorce decree, you can get a divorce easily and perhaps without a lawyer. You can read more about uncontested divorce forms. If he will NOT sign the decree, you may need to hire an attorney to handle the paperwork and legal notice that will be required. There are attorneys that will handle a divorce like this for under $1000.

  22. I had all my papers for divorce court but the judge didn’t grant because he didn’t have a address. Judge told me to serve him or find him. I received a letter from the court that my trial is 5 months away. Can it be earlier then that if I serve him now?

    • A trial is set by the court if the parties cannot agree to the terms of the divorce. You can get a divorce “by default” if your spouse is legally served with the petition, but fails to file an answer. If your spouse files a response, you’ll have to wait for the trial date unless you can settle the terms of the divorce prior to trial.

  23. I am trying to file for divorce myself, Me and my wife have been separated for 6 years. She has another child with another man. What documents will I need to prove the child isnt mine? Also do I need that paperwork when I file? or can I submit it after I have filed?

    • A child born during the marriage that is not the child of the husband complicates the divorce process as their will be a presumption of paternity to the husband. You will need to have paternity adjudicated in the divorce if it has not already been adjudicated. I believe all of the divorce form providers indicate their forms will not work in this situation. It is recommended that you hire an attorney to help paper this divorce.

  24. Is there a deadline after the 60 days for finalizing the divorce? The 61st day for me is on a Sunday and then the following Monday is a government holiday. I am just worried I will have to file a petition again if I don’t do it within a certain time frame.

    • Each judge has different deadlines, but you’ll have time to complete the divorce after the cooling off period. You should receive a notice if the court intends to dismiss the case for lack of progress and have an opportunity to explain why the case should not be dismissed.

  25. I have filed for divorce 4-17-17..I had to send my wife the petition via certified mail.She has now countered with what she wants. I amconfused on the next step.I know the 61 days are a cooling off period BUT what happens next? Will there be a hearing first? How will I know when?

    • Generally speaking, the spouses must either come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce (in other words the divorce is “uncontested”) or inform the court that the spouses cannot agree (contested divorce) and ask the court to decide the terms of the divorce. Most courts will require mediation if the spouses cannot come to an agreement on all terms. The process when the divorce is contested varies from court to court.

  26. My wife (respondent) and I (petitioner) are in complete agreement of how property should be split and that the divorce will be uncontested and we will both sign the final decree. She does not want to appear court. Should she complete the “Waiver of Service” or “Answer” form? Will she be required to attend court if the Answer is filed? Thank you.

    • She must file the waiver of service OR an answer (she could technically file both, but only one is required). If your wife signs the decree, she will not need to appear in court and you can submit the fully executed decree to the court for execution. If you need any of these forms, see our Texas Divorce Forms article.

  27. My husband filed for divorce in July 2016. I filed my answer within the allotted time. Due to some family issues that happened over the last year, we never finalized. Now we have separated and I want to finalize it. Do I need to file on my own or can we just continue with the previous filing?

    • You should be able to proceed in the old case unless the court has since dismissed for lack of progress.

  28. If my husband has agreed and signed the final decree do I need to file it with the court or do I wait until the court date and submit it directly to the judge?

    • Each court/judge does it a little differently. Some will ask that you submit proposed documents to the court in advance of the hearing date so the judge’s admin can review it for errors/issues. You should contact the court clerk or court coordinator to determine what your particular court desires.

  29. I filed for a divorce in Texas based on adultery. In his reply, I guess he denied it because his response says I am guilty of cruel treatment toward him of a nature that renders living together insupportable.

    I’m confused/shocked as to how the heck I have treated him cruelty????

    What I am asking is how can this be proven in court? Does it need to be proven in court? I don’t want my name to have this record as a reason for divorce when the reason we are in this mess in the first place is because he’s a repeat cheater.

    • Texas is a “no fault” state. In other words, you don’t have to prove fault to get a divorce. I’m guessing you have attorney prepared forms because most of the free and uncontested divorce forms use the standard no fault clause “The marriage has become insupportable due to discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation”. Proving fault may entitle one spouse to certain extras (I’m not sure). You should speak with your/an attorney on this topic.

  30. Currently In Dallas Texas. Filed For Divorce 5-1-17 Spouse Signed Waiver 61 Day Period Is Approaching What Is The Next Step I Need To Do To Proceed ? No Property Have 3 Children No Child Support Needed I Habe The Childen Monday-Wednesday Spouse Have Children Thursday-Sunday. I See Alot Is Stating Final Divorce Decree How Do I Go About That Or What Is The Next Move To Make ?

    • The next step is to get the decree signed. The judge will sign the decree at an “uncontested prove-up hearing” if both spouses sign the decree. Each court schedules and handles uncontested prove-up hearings differently, so you’ll want to call the court coordinator to see what your particular court requires. If both spouses do not sign the decree, your case is considered “contested” and an attorney will be required to traverse the process. If divorce is contested, you should consider filing an answer so a default judgment is not rendered against you.

  31. My husband filed a petition for divorce. I came home to have him hand me his divorce request. I have not been served. The courts said he has not filed for me to be served, just the petition. What happens if I do not file a response in 20 days?

    How long will the request stay active before he has to refile and serve me properly?

    • You have until the Monday after the expiration of 20 days (from the date you are personally served) to file an answer. Failure to file an answer can result in a default judgment against you (your spouse will have to prove service of petition at the hearing on the motion for default default judgment). If you have not been served the judge should not grant the default judgement, but you never know what the judge will do. Each court has different rules on how long a case or request will stay active.

  32. And I did my own, CONTESTED divorce with the children and property 98% myself. I only hired the attorney for a flat fee of 500 to rewrite my final decree and take it to the judge to sign. I would do it myself too but I had 2 jobs then and did not have time. Time is money 🙂
    Everyone in the courthouse was totally surprised that someone with no law degree went this far with a contested divorce 🙂

  33. What is the next step if she is avoiding being served texas divorce papers?

    • The easiest thing to do is hire a private process server to perfect service. If that doesn’t work, you can request alternate service methods (like sending via certified mail and leaving a copy with someone over the age of 16 at spouse’s residence). This is done with a motion for substitute service and corresponding order. This kind of request should be completed by an attorney.

  34. If the divorce is uncontested can only the petitioner show up for court during the final hearing(for judge to sign final decree) ? Or do both parties have to show up?

    • Typically, only the petitioner shows up at the prove up hearing, but both spouses can (or even just the respondent).

  35. If you file for divorce and pay the fee for the constable to serve papers, how long does it take for them to be served? This was done the first week of july and he still hasnt been served….do i just wait??

    • It can take some time. Just depends on the constable and your spouse. At some point the constable will give up and tell the court he/she could not locate the spouse.

  36. Our 61 waiting period has passed, what do I do now?

    • If uncontested, you should be able to go to court and get the judge to sign the divorce decree.

  37. I am in texas, and we divorced June 2017. The judge ruled that I am to revive child support “starting immediately”. However, my lawyer hasn’t drawn up the divorce decree yet. Do I receive back pay child support from June until now?

    • It depends on what the order says. It sounds like the judge wants the order to include the June date.

  38. If my spouse is in prison in TX and says he will sign whatever, is it still a better idea to have him officially served via a sheriff or warden? He may be released soon and I hoped to have this finalized before then, so want to clear any obstacles.

  39. I have 2 children with my husband. We married in 2003 I left him in May 2016. Told him in the letter I want a divorce. The kids and I have moved and are safe. Told him I’m willing to let him have the van, I keep the car. I have main custody of the kids and he has standard visitation. He said no. He filed for the divorce and had me served before I was able to at the end of Feb. It’s coming up to 6 months since he filed. He refuses to talk to me about it and his attorney will not communicate with mine. We have not had any kind of court date for anything even child custody. I’m lost and confused. What’s happening and how can I speed things up.

    • Ask your attorney to explain the pros and cons to filing a “counter-petition for divorce.”

  40. I filed for petition, He refused to sign waiver and respond. I went and paid so he can be served but kept avoiding constable now what is next. Can I still get divorce even if the constable failed to excute the citation?

    • You’ll need to prove to the court that your spouse received notice of the divorce. It’s not as easy as showing an email or text message, but rather you have to follow the notice statute. You should consult with a Texas attorney on how to give proper notice. It may likely entail the filing of a motion for alternative methods of service.

  41. I filed a petition for an uncontested divorce but we have decided to reconcile. If I do not go to court to stop the petition, will I be okay If I simply do not show up to finalize the decree?

    • You should dismiss the case by filing a motion to dismiss without prejudice. If you do not take action, the court will most likely dismiss on their own motion.

  42. Can I sue my ex wife for not removing my name from the home I lost in the divorce . She paid it late until it sold recently which has had a negative impact on my credit

    • It depends. You should consult with an attorney (not necessarily a divorce attorney) to figure out what your best strategy would be.

  43. I have an uncontested divorce and all the paperwork has already been submitted including the divorce decree. We’ve agreed on everything including debt and the house (property). The spouse has paid off the debt and I’m giving her the house. On the decree I just put that she gets the community property (house) and I have no ownership to it. I just want to make sure the judge will sign off on that.

    • Based on the info provided, I don’t see a reason the judge would not sign off on your agreed divorce decree. Please note that a deed will be required to actually transfer the house to your spouse. Sometimes the decree will even describe the logistics around the preparation, signing and recording of the deed.

  44. I filed for divorce in Texas 4 months ago. Filed uncontested and we have 3 children. We don’t own anything together and agreed the children will stay with me and go with him every once in a while. My question is what do I do next? Am I supposed to go ask for a court date?

    • You’ll want to call the court and determine how your particular judge handles their uncontested docket (assuming your spouse has signed the proposed divorce decree).

  45. If I am common law married and my ex doesn’t not want to consider it can I still file for a divorce? We have 2 children together and we separated while I was 8 months pregnant but he was back and forth. After a yr he had another child, so we both moved on and now he has two kids with the other women. Who keeps telling me he doesn’t need a divorce from me but I want to get married and yet everyone one else tells me otherwise.

    • You should speak with an attorney. A divorce after a common law marriage is a viable option.

  46. My husband is avoiding receiving his papers after multiple attempts. My attorney states they will get a Petetion from the court to post it at the location he is at. Will i still have to wait the wait time of hearing a response for 20 days or whatever the amount is when he receives the papers? It will be 60 days of waiting for him to receive the papers on October 11, 2016. I wanted to ask my attorney this now but they charge with every email I send about the process and updates.

    • You can’t proceed until the 60 day waiting has expired AND, if applicable, the answer deadline (the Monday following the expiration for date of service) has come and gone.

  47. If I’ve already moved out of our home which is community property and taken property that I inherited and brought into the marriage and some fun it ur that we purchased together, before filing by Pitition for divorce. Do I have to return the personal property I took after the divorce is signed off by the judge??

    • Unfortunately, you’ll need to speak with an attorney to resolve this issue.

  48. I have an uncontested divorce in texas. Ex moved so he signed a waiver. I forgot to make a copy to be stamped s o i know i need that for the judge. What I’m not sure of is something else. It said for me to bring in original petition plus three copies. Does that mean the one I filed? Do the copies have to be stamped?

    • You really need the original and two copies: The court will keep the original. One copy is for your records and the other is for your spouse’s records. The copies should be file-stamped by the clerk. With regard to the waiver, the original that was filed with the clerk should be in the judge’s file by the time you see him/her.

  49. About 5 months ago my husband served me with divorce papers I haven’t responded to the papers, will they grant him the divorce? What happens now?

    • Yes, the court will likely grant the divorce as a result of your failure to file an answer. If not too late, you should consider filing a response.

  50. after 22yrs of marriage my husband wants me to sign a postnuptial on his overtime at work as well as signing over to him half my personal injury settlement. I work too but he make way more than me he is a GM employee for over 20 something yrs. I m more wondering about postnuptial.

    • You need to speak with an attorney. Do NOT sign these a postnuptial agreement without receiving legal advice first.

  51. IF I BOUGHT A HOUSE, BUT HAD TO PUT HIM ON THE DEED DUE TO MARRIAGE, IS THERE ANY WAY HE CAN END UP WITH THE HOUSE?

    • Yes. Community property (generally property acquired during the marriage is community property) is split in a divorce. If the spouses agree, you can make your own arrangements on the splitting of property. If spouses can’t agree, the court will decide if the house is community property and who should get it.

  52. My wife filled for divorce. Uncontested divorce. We agreed on who took what. When she came to get her things she left a lot of things behind but stated she would not be back that she got what she wanted and/or needed. I signed a waiver of service. She is now telling me that we will be going to court because she wants to be reimbursed for the things she left behind when she moved her stuff out and for things she had stored at my parents home for over 2 years. The waiting period was up 4 days ago but she has not filed the papers. I submitted an amended form for the waiver and I am also filing an answer to protect myself. I am being told I will not have to sign the decree. Am I being screwed? What happens if she did not file by the last day of the waiting period?

    • The waiting period is designed to allow spouses to change their minds and remain married. The divorce decree cannot be signed during the waiting period. Now that the waiting period has expired, the court can entertain the request for divorce (and thus sign the decree). If you file an answer, the judge shouldn’t sign the decree until a trial or the parties present a agreed divorce decree.

  53. will i lose my half of house in texas if i let home after wife told me to leave or will we have to sell community property or but the other out

    • It is impossible for us to know what will happen in a contested divorce. A judge will ultimately decide who gets what in a contested divorce. If the spouses can agree on the terms of the divorce, the judge should go along with the agreement of the spouses.

  54. My wife and I agreed to get divorced. However she move out of the states but we still want to get divorced. Can I file for divorce in Texas and have her sign in the country where she currently resides in front of notary there and send the required papers back to me? Does she need to be in the US for any steps in the divorce?

    • There is no requirement that a respondent spouse be physically located in the U.S.

  55. My husband and I have not lived as husband and wife in 25 years I am trying to get healthcare assistance and need a copy of final divorce decree, my ex will not talk to me. I don’t know what county or even if we are divorced. How can I find out without his cooperation?

    • You’ll first need to determine if you are already divorced. You may need to hire a private investigator to perform this research. If not divorced, then you’ll can file for divorce in a state with jurisdiction and a county with proper venue.

  56. My husband was served and didn’t respond to the petition. I was granted a default divorce. The 30 day period has expired. Then, 45 days after the divorce was granted, he filed a motion to overturn the decision and start the divorce over. We are to go back to court in a few weeks. Is this allowed in Texas when I did everything I needed to do? The thought and expense of starting over is overwhelming me.

    • It is possible (if your spouse filed a Bill of Review) if your spouse can prove he/she did not receive notice of the divorce proceeding. If he/she did not get notice the default judgment can be overturned.

  57. My girlfriend put a restraining order on her husband after he physically abused her. Then she filed for divorce. It’s been 3 months and now the man is refusing to sign the divorce papers until she drops the charges. She is NOT going to drop the charges. So, is there a rule or law that says she can still get the divorce finalized by a judge if he’s refusing to sign?

    • Of course! Not all spouses agree to the divorce. When this happens, the judge decides the terms of the divorce.

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