How Long Does a Divorce Take in Texas?
If you want to end your marriage, you may be wondering: How long does a divorce take in Texas?
Due to the Texas mandatory 60 day waiting period, the absolute quickest that a divorce can be finalized is 61 days. Realistically, however, it will take a bit longer for most couples to be granted a divorce in Texas; typically anywhere from 6 months to a year. And the more assets you have and the more lives affected by the divorce, the longer it will take.
The law offices of Grimes & Fertitta are dedicated to not only moving the divorce process along but also fighting to get you the best resolution possible.
Learn more about and what an “average” diviroce timeline looks like, what factors may complicate and draw the divorce process, and how our The Woodlands and Houston family divorce lawyers can help.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Texas if both parties agree?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of answering, “How long does a divorce take in Texas?” we want to clarify something about how long a divorce takes if absolutely everything runs as smoothly as possible.
If both parties agree to the divorce, distribution of assets, and custody arrangements, then the filing process and waiting period are the only steps before the final divorce hearing and the marriage could potentially be dissolved after 60 days. However, most courts have full dockets, so even an uncontested divorce hearing will usually be scheduled well beyond the 61st day.
So when making your post-divorce plans, keep in mind that even if you and your spouse have an extremely amicable divorce, you may still be legally attached longer than the minimum 60 days due to court delays.
An average Texas divorce process timeline
Just like every marriage is different, so is every divorce. However, the average divorce process goes as follows:
1. Pre-filing (a few weeks)
Pre-filing for a divorce involves two main steps: deciding whether you actually want a divorce and working with a lawyer to prepare to file.
The former is not technically part of the legal process but, often, a natural part of the divorce process is deciding whether or not a marriage can be repaired through marriage counseling or some other form of mediation. In situations where there’s abuse directed towards you or your children, call the police and get help immediately. Otherwise, take some time to ensure this is what you truly want.
When you’re ready, the next step is to retain the services of an experienced divorce attorney, like The Woodlands family law attorney. A family lawyer will advise you on how to get your finances in order and protect yourself and any kids before serving your partner with divorce papers. This is also the time when you determine what you’re requesting in terms of assets and custody.
2. Filing (a few days)
Once you are ready to file, you and your divorce lawyer will begin the marriage dissolution by filing a petition with the court requesting that their marriage to their spouse be dissolved. This petition also lists your requests for the division of property, child support, and alimony, if applicable.
Either spouse can be the Petitioner as long as they have lived in Texas for at least 6 months and been a resident of the county where they filed for the previous 90 days.
3. Waiting period (60 days)
Texas has a mandatory waiting period of 60 days, starting from the moment the petition is filed. A 60-day waiver may be granted in cases of family violence, but most couples will have to wait it out. During this waiting period, a divorce will not be granted, but the other party still needs to respond, and the case can still move forward.
FAQ: How long do you have to be separated before you can file a divorce in Texas? Texas does not require parties to be physically or legally separated before filing for divorce. The only thing required is a 60 day waiting period to give couples a chance to cool off. Our law offices recommend not moving out or separating immediately but rather continue living in the house and spending time with your kids to maintain your position in the household, especially if you have children.
4. Responding to a petition (roughly 20-28 days)
Once a petition has been filed with the court, it must be served to the Respondent to let them know the case exists. Petitions can be served via delivery service, publication, certified mail, or left in a location where it will be found, depending on what is allowed in your county.
If your spouse’s whereabouts are unknown, the service of process may add some time to your case. Once the petition has arrived, the respondent has between 20-28 days to respond to the petition by accepting demands, contesting, or asking for an extension to try and reach an agreement.
5. Contesting a divorce (a few months to years)
If a divorce is being contested, the two parties will participate in discovery to collect evidence that supports their claims and reasoning. Oftentimes, lawyers from both parties will sit down and battle it out to come up with an agreement before trial. If an agreement can’t be reached, it is common for one lawyer to keep pushing back the court date as an intimidation practice. Grimes & Fertitta will fight to keep your case moving forward so you can move on with your life quicker.
6. Temporary orders (a few weeks)
While more complicated divorces are underway, the judge may also grant temporary orders detailing who will remain in the family home, who the children will spend time with, and how often as well as the payment of temporary child, spousal support or community debts.
7. Final divorce hearing (a few days)
The final divorce hearing is where a judgment is declared. This hearing could take a few days depending on how much evidence is presented and is often scheduled out well in advance.
What makes a divorce last longer than the minimum time?
If you’re wondering, “How long does a divorce take in Texas?” because you want a quick divorce but aren’t sure whether that’s feasible for you, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have children?
- Is this a high-asset divorce?
- Do you think your partner will contest the divorce?
- Has your partner hired a lawyer?
- Are the courts backed up?
- Did you skip out on working with a prenup lawyer in The Woodlands?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you are likely not going to be able to finalize your divorce in the “record” 61 days. For example, A high net worth divorce in Houston is a prime example of a type of divorce where some lawyers will drag their feet and potentially stall for years claiming it’s impossible to identify every asset and future earnings.
Meanwhile, complex child custody arrangements can also make it take exponentially longer to reach a resolution, specifically in instances where a child has special needs.
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are almost certainly going to be in a better position if you hire a qualified lawyer. Our team will not let you make any high asset divorce mistakes, will teach you how to fight for custody of a child, and will fight for your family’s best interests while keeping in mind your desires for a swift resolution.
Does a divorce petition expire in Texas?
A divorce petition does not expire, but most courts in Texas have what is known as a “dismissal docket,” where any case that is over a certain age with little or no activity in it is set for dismissal and a Motion to Retain must be filed with a firm trial date. If this is not done, the case is “dismissed for want of prosecution”.
For a smoother, less stressful divorce process, hire a divorce lawyer you can trust
So, how long does a divorce take in Texas? Based on the info above, a fair estimate is 6 to 12 months. Unfortunately, because emotions tend to run high during divorces, even the simplest divorces can be drawn out unnecessarily for months and even years longer than necessary.
A skilled family law attorney and divorce lawyer can help you avoid unnecessary delays during your divorce and safeguard your and your children’s best interests. At Grimes & Fertitta, our close-knit firm will work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome even the mostly highly contestable divorces.
If you need a divorce lawyer to help walk you through the process and fight to get you the best outcome possible, Contact Grimes & Fertitta online or call us at 713-224-7644 today for a consultation.
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