On the issue of divorce, Texas is known as a “fault” divorce state. This means that a spouse petitioning for divorce should be able to cite valid ground (or grounds) upon which the petition for divorce is based (it is necessary that the spouse petitioning the divorce and citing the fault or ground be able to prove the truthfulness of the ground/s that he or she cited). Under basic Texas Divorce Laws, acceptable grounds for divorce include:
- Irreconcilable differences or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage due to cruelty by one spouse;
- Conviction of felony. A spouse’s petition for divorce may be granted by the court if, during marriage, his/her spouse has been convicted of a felony and has been imprisoned for at least one year in a Federal penitentiary, in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, or in another State penitentiary and has not been pardoned; however, if the felony conviction was due to the testimony of the petitioning spouse, then the court will not accept the conviction as acceptable ground;
- Abandonment for at least one year;
- Both spouses having lived apart for at least three years without cohabitation; and,
- Confinement in mental hospital. It is stipulated under Texas Code – Family Code – Chapters: 6.001-6.007 that the court has the authority to grant a divorce in favor of one spouse if, at the time the petition is filed, the other spouse has been in confinement in a state mental hospital or in any private mental hospital in Texas or in any other state for at least three years and that the mental disorder is of such a degree and nature that adjustment is unlikely or, if adjustment occurs, a relapse is likely to occur.
Besides these grounds, a spouse petitioning for divorce must also observe the Texas basic Divorce Law requirement on residency. If these requirements are not met, which may only mean that the court (where the petition has been filed) does not have jurisdictional rights to hear the case, then the petition will either be rejected or eventually be dismissed.
Residency requirements stipulate that:
- Either spouse has been a resident of the state of Texas for at least six months prior to the filing of divorce and must have been a resident of the county, where the Petition was filed, for the prior 90 days;
- For the court to have personal jurisdiction over a non-resident Respondent, it is necessary that the last marital residence of the couple must have been in Texas and that the petition is filed within two years after this marital residence ceases to be the couple’s marital residence;
- If one of the spouses has resided in Texas for the past six months, while the other lives (or has moved) in a different state or country, this spouse living outside of Texas may file for divorce in the Texas county in which his/her former partner lives; and,
- For Texas residents actively serving in the armed forces and are stationed outside of Texas or the U.S., they are still considered residents of
- Texas and, thus, may file a divorce petition in the county where they reside. In the case of military personnel who have not lived in Texas, but who have been stationed at one or more military installations in Texas for the past six months or more, and at a military installation in a Texas county for the past 90 days, they are considered Texas residents as well as residents of that county – this stipulation serves the purposes of filing for divorce.
After a petition for divorce has been filed with the Texas county’s District Court, the petitioner must send his/her former spouse (the Respondent) legal notice of the petition. The Respondent is given 21 days within which he/she can file an Answer; if no Answer is filed, then the case is default. This would allow the judge to decide on the divorce case even without the Respondent.
Usually, there is a 60-day waiting period (starting on the date the petition was filed) before a judge grants a final divorce decree. The waiting period can be waived, however, if the court discovers: that the Respondent has been found guilty of domestic violence against the Petitioner or against any member of the Petitioner’s household; or, that the Petitioner has an active magistrate’s order or an active protection order for emergency protection against the Respondent due to domestic violence committed during the marriage.
Furthermore, basic Texas Divorce Laws says that former spouses may not marry before the 31st day after the divorce has been decreed, except if they are to marry each other again, or if good cause is shown to the court.
According to divorce lawyers from the Kirker Davis, LLP, law firm, one of the most successful measures of trial advocacy is in an attorney’s ability to settle a divorce case and resolve it amicably between spouses. They also believe that, if necessary, an attorney must be prepared to zealously advocate their client’s position in a courtroom. Based on this, it is obvious that many divorce lawyers, especially in high-profile divorce cases, represent clients, some even employ tactics that will prolong the case, for bigger earnings – at the expense of their clients. This is why it is of utmost importance that you choose you divorce attorney well. Any divorce lawyer can represent you; however, not everyone will you be able to work well with or, maybe even trust.Read More