A couple reviews estate planning options with an attorney

Texas Divorce: Frequently Asked Question

Families who are going through a divorce or other types of family law cases often deal with the stress of an uncertain future and confusion about their legal rights. Alison Grant, Attorney at Law, has dedicated herself to ensuring that individuals and families understand their legal rights and advocates for every one of her clients. In light of this, Alison Grant and her team of legal experts have put together a list of questions that are most often asked concerning divorce and family law to give her community more information on the topic. Here are answers to those questions.

What Is the Divorce Procedure?

Divorce proceedings start when one spouse, known as the “petitioner,” files an Original Petition for Divorce with the court. The petitioner then personally serves the papers to their spouse, who is known as the respondent.

When divorce papers are filed, the petitioner can request that the court issue a standard Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). This restraining order ensures that no assets disappear before they can be divided by the court and that neither spouse harasses or threatens the other.

Next, if the spouses need more information from each other concerning the divorce, a divorce discovery will take place. This process requires both spouses to exchange information and the necessary documents to show the full picture of the case. The goal of the discovery is to ensure that each side has the same information. This way,  negotiations are fair, and each side has a chance to understand the evidence presented if the case needs to go to trial.

court legal form for divorce

Once both lawyers have a clear understanding of the entire cases’ facts, the spouses and the attorneys can discuss settlement. In this stage, if an agreement can be reached, the attorneys will prepare an Agreed Decree of Divorce. This is also known as a divorce settlement agreement. This document contains all of the terms of their agreements and both spouses and the attorneys will need to sign it. The judge presiding over the case will then review and incorporate it into the final divorce order.

However, if the couple cannot agree on the terms of the divorce, the case will go to court. The court will set a trial date where the judge decides on the issues for the couple based on the evidence provided. At the end of the trial, one of the attorneys will prepare a Final Decree of Divorce to present to the judge for signature. As with the Agreed Decree of Divorce, this will contain the full terms of the divorce decided on by the court based on its ruling. It is binding and the couples must follow the terms going forward.

Are There Any Residency Requirements to Obtain a Divorce?

Every state has its own divorce laws which can make this area of law confusing for couples. In the state of Texas, one spouse has to have been a resident of the state for at least six continuous months. Additionally, at least one spouse has to have been a resident of the county where the divorce is being filed for at least 90 days.

What Are the Grounds for Divorce?

The State of Texas follows a “no-fault” divorce doctrine, meaning that neither spouse has to blame the other for the marriage dissolving. The petitioner simply needs to state that the marriage is insupportable, which is defined as the conflict of personalities signaling the end of the marriage and causing the reasonable expectation that there will be no reconciliation.

If one spouse is at fault for the divorce, such as infidelity, the court may take this into consideration when deciding the terms of the divorce and the distribution of assets. If any are true for your case, you will want to add this information to your divorce:

  • Adultery
  • Cruel Treatment/Abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Conviction of a felony or long-term incarceration that lasts for at least a year
  • Confinement to a mental hospital for three years or more

How Does the Court Divide Property In Texas After a Divorce?

Texas is a community property state, which means that any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered joint property. During a divorce, the court will divide the property between the spouses equally. However, some factors may change this split, such as if there are children involved or if the couples agree to divide the property differently.

In some cases, one spouse may believe that a certain piece of property, such as a house, is not shared with the spouse. In this case, the spouse and the lawyer will need to prove this by tracing that property back to its source and presenting clear evidence about its ownership. 

What Counts As A Separate Property?

Separate property is an issue in some divorce cases. This includes property obtained before the marriage, such as a car, or something that was gifted or inherited during the marriage, such as money.

What Is Spousal Maintenance?

Couple signing collaborative divorce paperwork

During a divorce, the court may award spousal maintenance to one of the former spouses. This is based on the agreement between the couple or a decision by the court itself. It is important to note that spousal support is completely separate from the division of property.

Spousal support takes the following information into consideration:

  • The age, physical health, emotional state, and financial condition of the former spouses
  • The length of time the recipient would need for education or training to become self-sufficient
  • The length of the marriage
  • The ability of the paying spouse to support the recipient while also supporting him or herself

Courts can issue temporary spousal support during the divorce process if one of the spouses is unemployed or earning significantly less than the other spouse. There are no guidelines for what temporary spousal support should look like, so if you need extra support, let your attorney know so they can take the proper steps. 

Will the Court Order Permanent Alimony?

Spouses can request permanent alimony, also known as spousal maintenance, in Texas. However, spousal maintenance is only awarded by the court if the following is true:

  • The spouse requesting the maintenance will lack sufficient property to provide for their minimum reasonable needs
  • The paying spouse was convicted of family violence within two years of the date of filing the divorce
  • The marriage lasted longer than ten years and the requesting spouse does not have the means to meet their minimal needs
  • The requesting spouse cannot become self-sufficient due to a physical or mental disability
  • The marriage was at least ten years and the requesting spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for the needs of a custodian child who needs special care or personal supervision

Can I Get Medical Insurance Benefits Through My Spouse’s Employer After a Divorce?

According to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), a spouse who was covered under their partner’s medical insurance coverage can continue to be covered for up to 36 months after a divorce. However, the employer can charge the requesting spouse for the insurance.

Make sure you talk with your divorce attorney for more information on how to obtain COBRA benefits and request the appropriate form.

Need a Trusted Divorce Attorney in Lewisville, Texas?

Alison Grant has been a part of the Texas legal community since 1996. With her vast knowledge and compassion, she has helped countless individuals find the peace and resolution they needed for their divorce. She is an advocate for every one of her clients and works hard to ensure that their voices are heard and their needs are met. If you are ready for Alison Grant to give you the quality legal assistance you deserve, contact her team today!