A divorce in Texas begins with the filing of a petition. The filing spouse is called the plaintiff. The other spouse, called the respondent, has the opportunity to respond and answer in the case. You can find Texas divorce forms on the state court website and on the State Law Library website.
Texas residency requirement
As in all states, you must meet certain criteria before you can file for divorce. In order to file for divorce in Texas, one or both partners must have lived in Texas for at least six months and in the county where the divorce is being filed for at least 90 days.
In many states, the partners must have lived apart for some time (often six or 12 months), but in Texas a couple can still live together even during divorce proceedings.
Serving Your Spouse in Texas
The petitioner must have the divorce documents legally served on the respondent in Texas. This can be done in person or by certified mail. If these methods are not possible, the court may allow substituted service by email or social media.
Texas Fault vs No Fault Divorce
Texas does not require blame or fault for divorce. No-fault divorce can be obtained when the marriage is unbearable, that is, when there is discord or conflict and there is no expectation of reconciliation. This is the simplest reason to file for divorce and no proof is needed.
It is also possible to file for a fault-based divorce by proving fault on one of the following grounds:
- Cruelty. One of the spouses is guilty of such cruel treatment that living together becomes unbearable.
- Adultery. One spouse cheats on the other.
- felony conviction. A spouse is found guilty of a crime, imprisoned for at least a year and not pardoned. However, the spouse applying for the divorce cannot invoke this ground for divorce if his testimony contributed to the conviction of his spouse.
- Abandonment. One of the spouses abandoned the other with the intention of abandoning him and has been gone for at least a year.
- live apart. The spouses lived separately for three years without cohabitation.
- Internment in a psychiatric hospital. One of the spouses has been committed to a psychiatric hospital for at least three years and it seems that he will not recover or is likely to recover and then relapse.
Contested or Uncontested Divorce in Texas
Divorce in Texas may or may not be contested. A contested divorce is a divorce in which you and your spouse cannot agree on at least one issue of the divorce. Because you can’t come to a settlement, you have to go to trial and let the judge decide how to resolve these issues.
An uncontested divorce occurs in one of two situations:
- The plaintiff files for divorce and the respondent never responds or appears in court. The petitioner then asks the court what they want and the court decides based solely on the information provided by the petitioner.
- The spouses agree on all matters of the divorce and file a settlement or agreement with the court which becomes the divorce decree.