Without the proper knowledge, the divorce process can be overwhelming. Here’s what to know about divorce mediation in Texas.

Texas law allows for fault-based and no-fault divorce grounds. Divorces can be uncontested, contested, and collaborative. The grounds for divorce and types of divorce dictate the length of the divorce process. A spouse can begin the Texas divorce process by filing an Original Petition for Divorce.

Divorce in Texas

Texas law allows individuals to file for divorce on two grounds: fault-based or no-fault. The grounds for a divorce state the reason for ending the marriage. After establishing grounds, a divorce can be uncontested, contested, or collaborative. This label characterizes the divorce proceedings rather than the reasons for divorce. All three types of divorce can involve fault-based or no-fault grounds. 

Texas Family Code requires an individual to be a resident of the county they file for divorce in for at least 90 days. The individual must have lived in Texas for at least six months before filing for divorce.

Fault-Based Divorces Grounds in Texas

Related: Grounds for Divorce in Texas

In Texas, a fault-based divorce alleges misconduct from one spouse by another spouse. Spouses must prove one of the following:

  • Adultery
  • Cruelty
  • Abandonment
  • Felony
  • Separation
  • Confinement to a mental hospital

Adultery

In Texas, adultery means a spouse has sexual relations with another individual outside of the marriage. To file on the grounds of adultery, a spouse must provide direct or circumstantial evidence.

Direct evidence includes:

  • Witness statements
  • Photographs
  • Text messages

Circumstantial evidence includes:

  • Demonstrating one’s spouse had the opportunity for an outside sexual relationship

Cruelty

Cruelty repeated inhumane or abusive treatment. To file for divorce on the grounds of cruelty, an individual must provide proof of consistent abuse. Cruel behaviors can include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Humiliation
  • Manipulation

Abandonment

In Texas, if a spouse leaves for a minimum of one year and has no intention of returning, an individual can file for divorce on the grounds of abandonment. The abandonment must continue for the entire year.

Felony

In Texas, an individual can file for divorce if their spouse has committed a felony and serves jail time for at least one year.

Separation

In Texas, married individuals living apart for at least three years may file for divorce on the grounds of separation. 

Confinement to a Mental Hospital

A spouse may file for divorce if their spouse is admitted to a mental hospital. The spouse can contest divorce on the grounds of confinement to a mental hospital.

No-Fault Divorce Grounds in Texas

Texas is a no-fault state, meaning individuals can file for divorce based on irreconcilable differences. An individual does not have to prove wrongdoing to file for irreconcilable differences. No-fault divorces formally state neither spouse committed wrongdoings, causing the breakdown of the marriage.

Uncontested Divorce in Texas

An uncontested divorce is when two spouses agree on the full terms of a divorce and sign an agreement to skip the trial phase. In Texas, spouses must meet the following conditions to have an uncontested divorce:

  • Both individuals agree on the grounds for divorce
  • Both spouses agree to end the marriage
  • Spouses agree on divorce-related issues, including child custody and child support
  • No court orders for custody or support exist

Uncontested divorces can be less expensive and timely than other types of divorce. Uncontested divorces do not require an attorney because there is no trial. It may be advisable to consult a legal expert to guide you through the process.

Contested Divorce in Texas

A contested divorce is when two spouses do not agree on the terms of a divorce. They may have disputes on child custody, property division, child support, or other legal matters. The state of Texas requires a trial for an uncontested divorce. It is advisable to seek legal representation for this process.

Related: Contested and Uncontested Divorce: The Difference

Collaborative Divorce in Texas

A collaborative divorce involves both spouses coming together to discuss their individual goals and concerns for the divorce. The parties collaborate to reach an agreement about marital issues, including child custody, spousal support, and division of assets. Both parties hire a collaborative divorce lawyer to facilitate this process. 

Related: Divorce Mediation in Texas: The Ultimate Guide

Next Steps

After establishing grounds and the type of divorce, an individual must complete the following steps to start the divorce process:

1. File an Original Petition for Divorce

A spouse must file the Original Petition for Divorce with the court, state their reasons for divorce, and request relief. Couples with children will have to file additional forms. These documents outline custody rights and the responsibilities of each party. The state requires a spouse to pay a fee when filing all forms with the court clerk.

2. Provide Legal Notice

The individual who filed the Petition is known as the Petitioner. The other spouse, the Respondent, must be served notice of the filing. Serving notice can be completed by:

  • Hand delivery
  • Email
  • Regular Mail 
  • Fax
  • Electronic service through the electronic filing manage

If an individual does not want a formal service of divorce papers, they may file a Waiver of Service. The waiver still allows the individual to be involved in the divorce proceedings. 

3. The Hearing

After a spouse files and servers deliver papers to the appropriate people, a hearing will occur. During the hearing, both parties can provide evidence to support their claims. This process will vary based on the type of divorce the parties will pursue. A divorce hearing can be a complex situation, so seeking legal expertise may be advised. 

Following the completion of the hearing, a judge will determine the divorce terms. A judge cannot make a final decree until 60 days after the respondent receives the legal notice.

FAQS About Divorce in Texas

What if my spouse doesn’t live in Texas?

Individuals can still file for divorce in Texas if their spouse lives in another state, so long as they meet the residency requirements. Individuals can file for divorce if they have been a resident of the county they file in for at least 90 days and have lived in Texas for at least six months.

How long does a spouse have to respond to notice for divorce?

In Texas, the deadline to respond to divorce is complex. To determine an individual’s deadline, you must count out 20 days from the date of the legal notice of divorce (this includes holidays and weekends). The deadline to respond will be the following Monday at 10:00 am.

How long is the divorce process?

The length of a divorce process varies by the type of divorce pursued. Uncontested divorces can be more time-efficient than contested divorces. In Texas, the divorce process is at least 61 days. By law, a court cannot hear a divorce case until at least 60 days of serving a spouse’s notice of divorce.

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