If you are contemplating a divorce or currently in the midst of one, it is understandable to ponder “How long does a divorce take in Texas?” While there is no universal answer applicable for all couples undergoing this process, certain factors will influence its length.
How Long Does a Divorce Take in Texas?
The divorce laws in Texas require a 60-day waiting period from the date that a spouse initiates their divorce proceedings. This means that most divorces in Texas will take at least 60 days.
Generally speaking, divorces will take anywhere between six months and one year to finalize, depending upon the complexity of each particular case. A straightforward uncontested divorce could be finalized in as little as two or three months, while contested divorces tend to range from nine months up to two years or longer. Speaking with a qualified divorce attorney in Texas will provide a better idea of what to expect for your specific case.
Texas Divorce 60-day Waiting Period
In Texas, a 60-day waiting period is required for divorce from the date of filing. However, in certain cases, the waiting period may be waived by court order. These instances include:
- If your spouse has been convicted or adjudicated on charges related to domestic violence against you or another member of your household
- If you have an active emergency protection order due to domestic violence during marriage
If either of these situations apply, your family law attorney will advise you of all divorce options available for your unique divorce case.
Types of Divorce and How Long They Take
In the state of Texas, divorce proceedings can take significantly different lengths of time depending on whether they are contested or uncontested. Contested and uncontested divorces represent two distinct divorce types that may be pursued in Texas.
What is a Contested Divorce?
In a contested divorce, both parties are unable to come to an agreement on matters such as if anyone is at fault, child custody, child support, spousal support/maintenance, or division of marital property. When this happens, it is advisable for each party involved in the proceedings to secure legal representation from a qualified divorce lawyer.
Representing oneself without prior legal knowledge is not recommended; if you cannot resolve these issues with your spouse amicably then it may be necessary to have a divorce attorney represent your best interests in court. Representing yourself poses great risk to your future regarding child custody, spousal maintenance, property division, and even your finances. Having a skilled litigator in your corner will help ensure your rights are protected throughout the duration of the divorce proceedings.
How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take?
In essence, a contested divorce can be a lengthy and complex procedure, varying greatly depending on the specific circumstances of each case.
One of the primary factors contributing to the duration of a contested divorce is the degree of contention between the spouses. If both parties are unable to reach an agreement on key issues such as child custody, property division, and financial matters, then the divorce is considered contested. When this occurs, it is not uncommon for the divorce process to be protracted due to the need for trial and judicial intervention to resolve the disputes.
The complexity of the issues at stake can also influence the duration of a contested divorce. Cases involving high-value assets or complicated financial arrangements may require extensive evaluation, investigation, and negotiation.
Additionally, disputes over child custody arrangements and visitation schedules can also contribute to a longer timeline as the court aims to ensure the best interests of the children involved.
Ultimately, the length of a contested divorce can range from several months to several years. It is crucial for individuals embarking on this challenging journey to seek the guidance and support of experienced family law attorneys to navigate the legal hurdles effectively and minimize unnecessary delays.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce refers to a situation where both spouses mutually agree to end their marriage and have resolved all related aspects, such as child custody, property division, and alimony, without the need for litigation or court intervention.
This type of divorce is often seen as a more amicable and cost-effective option compared to a contested divorce, where disputes arise and require court intervention to reach a resolution.
For clients seeking an uncontested divorce, it is crucial to have a skilled and experienced divorce attorney who can guide them through the process, ensure compliance with local laws, and protect their rights and interests.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take?
An uncontested divorce expedites the overall divorce process. In many cases, divorce finalization can occur shortly after the mandatory 60-day waiting period has passed.
On average, this type of divorce takes about 90 days to complete. Due to its lack of involvement with lengthy court proceedings, this type of divorce is often much faster than other types.
What Affects the Length of a Divorce in Texas?
When it comes to your divorce options there are other factors aside from contested or uncontested that may affect the length of your divorce.
These factors include if the divorce is a fault divorce or a no-fault divorce, if children are involved, if a prenuptial agreement exists, and more. A family lawyer who focuses on the practice area of divorce is an excellent resource in determining the length of the divorce as well as your divorce strategy.
1. Fault or No-Fault Divorce
The divorce petition is the first divorce form you’ll fill out when filing for divorce in Texas whether you file on your own or with the help of an attorney. To complete the original petition for divorce, you must select a ground for divorce. This tells the court why you’re requesting to end the marriage.
According to the Texas Family Code, there are seven grounds for divorce that you may choose from. They include:
- Insupportability (aka no-fault)
- Felony Criminal Conviction
- Confinement in a Mental Hospital
The first option, insupportability or no-fault, means that neither party is at fault for the divorce. If you’re looking for a quick divorce, then it’s a good idea to speak with your divorce attorney about this option.
However, if you are filing for divorce and want to choose an at fault divorce, then you can select one of the other options. It is important to understand that if you choose to file an at-fault divorce, then you’ll need to prove the grounds which can prolong the divorce case. Speaking with a family lawyer who specializes in divorce can help you better understand and prepare for this route.
2: Child Custody
In Texas, the timeline of a divorce case is impacted significantly by whether or not children are involved. Child custody and child support issues can often extend the duration of a divorce due to the emotional aspect as well as the complexities of custody cases.
In Texas, the courts generally assume that it is beneficial for a child to maintain contact with both of their parents unless there are substantial reasons against it. This is why parents are rarely awarded sole custody unless there is a history of abuse. In most cases, parents will be awarded some degree of joint custody. There are two primary categories of joint custody including:
- Shared Physical Custody: This pertains to where the child or children live.
- Joint Legal Custody: This pertains to which parent has the authority to make legal decisions regarding or on behalf of the child including decisions about school, medical treatment, etc.
When parents are on the same page with child custody, the divorce process runs much more smoothly.
3: Dispute Resolution
A divorcing couple’s method of dispute resolution also plays a significant role in the length of a divorce in Texas. While getting divorced in Texas can mean spending a significant amount of time in one court hearing or another, that isn’t always the case. Divorcees have multiple options when it comes to resolving disputes.
Courts and attorneys often encourage divorcing couples to participate in mediation. Mediation involves using a neutral third party or mediator to help negotiate terms between spouses. This method is typically less expensive than others and it can speed up the divorce process.
A collaborative divorce is a blend of mediation and litigation. Each person hires a divorce attorney as well as specialists including child specialists or financial specialists. A series of meetings allows the spouses to negotiate a divorce settlement agreement with the help of these experienced professionals.
Litigation can take longer than other divorce options due to court hearing scheduling. This method is often the longest option for a Texas divorce. If you want to get your divorce decree without the wait, speak with a qualified attorney that offers divorce service to learn more about your options.
4: Property Division
The state of Texas is a community property state. Therefore, property acquired during the marriage is considered to belong to both spouses. And, since Texas does not recognize legal separation, even with a separation agreement, any assets or debts acquired by either spouse, even when living apart, is still considered community property. The only times this does not apply is if the spouse can prove that the asset is their own separate property such as with an inheritance.
Difficulties with property division often arise from comingled bank accounts, businesses, or with dividing a large number of assets. Prenuptial agreements can help minimize these issues, however, if you don’t have one then the issues will have to be addressed head-on.
How to Expedite A Texas Divorce
To get divorced in Texas quickly, you may want to consider filing for an uncontested divorce. This means figuring out the details of the divorce prior to seeing the judge. Deciding on these important details ahead of time allows your divorce case to move forward much more quickly.
Hiring a Divorce Attorney to Expedite your Divorce in Texas
A skilled divorce attorney will advise you on the divorce process from filling out divorce papers to the final divorce decree and beyond. They will help you better understand how to best fill out divorce forms to protect yourself and keep the divorce timeline to a minimum. They can also assist if you need any temporary restraining orders, a parenting plan, and anything else that may pertain to your divorce case.