It takes a minimum of 60 days to get a divorce in Texas. However, in some cases, it may take longer than 4 -6 months, depending on the complexity of the divorce proceedings and the court’s caseload.
Texas Divorce Waiting Period
According to state laws, the couple has to wait until the mandatory 60-day waiting period for divorce in Texas is over in order to get their divorce finalized. Normally, if there are no cases of family violence, it is not possible to finish the case before such a period ends. This period is also called a divorce cooling-off period. During this time, the couple has an opportunity to reconcile and choose not to proceed with their marriage dissolution.
The Average Texas Divorce Process Timeline
The average time to get a divorce in the state depends on the type of marriage dissolution you and your spouse file for. If we talk about Texas uncontested divorce process timeline, it may take you from 2 to 4 months. If the process is contested, meaning that you and your spouse could not reach an agreement on some divorce aspects, it may take anywhere from 6 months to 1,5 years.
In order to get a divorce, you will need to take the following steps:
- Meeting residency requirements. In order to start the process, you must meet the residency requirements so that the local court can make decisions in your case. In Texas, you must live in the county where you plan to file for 90 days or more and in the state – for at least 6 months. If you do not meet these conditions, but your spouse does, you can file in their county of residence or wait until you do.
- Filling out and filing the Original Petition for Divorce. The next important step is preparing and filing your Petition, which is the main document you have to file with the court along with other papers. This process may take a few weeks or more if you struggle to find the right forms and fill them out properly. If you choose to work with an online divorce service, you can expedite this step and finish up in a matter of days.
- Paying a filing fee. When you come to the court to file the paperwork, you will need to pay the filing fee, which is approximately $300. If you cannot pay, you should file the Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs or an Appeal Bond form with the court. You may need to wait until the court decides whether to waive the fees, or if the requirements are clearly met, the clerk will waive your fees right away.
- Serving the divorce papers to your spouse. After you file your paperwork, you must serve the copies to your spouse. You can do it on your own or ask the county sheriff. On average, the serving process takes one week unless you manage to do it quicker on your own. As soon as the second party receives the papers, they have 20 days to file the Answer with the court.
- Writing a divorce settlement agreement. You and your spouse may record all your agreements concerning your children, property, or alimony in a Marital Settlement Agreement to present it to the judge during your final hearing. You will need to spend some time discussing all the matters with your spouse, hiring a lawyer or a mediator if you need their services, and recording all your agreements on paper. If the basic forms already cover all your agreements, you will not need to draft a separate document.
- Finalizing the divorce. According to state laws, you can schedule the final divorce hearing after a 60-day waiting period passes. An uncontested hearing does not usually last long. The judge will ask you some questions, review your paperwork, and grant the marriage dissolution if everything is in order. You should then file the Decree and any other orders with the clerk.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Texas
A mutual divorce in Texas can be finalized as soon as the waiting period of 2 months passes. However, this is a minimal time until which the marriage dissolution cannot be granted. On average, the couple filing for an uncontested marriage dissolution needs to wait for approximately 3-4 months. This period especially depends on such factors as court workload and the couple’s willingness to reach an agreement.
How Long Does a Divorce Take in Texas with Child
There is no specific waiting period for a divorce with children in Texas. The same as with childless divorce, the couple will need to wait for 2 months until they can proceed to the hearing. What may prolong a divorce with kids is if the couple struggles to come to an agreement concerning child custody, support, parenting time, and visitation. In case an agreement cannot be reached, the litigations may be very long and span years.
How Long to Finalize Divorce in Texas
When the 60-day waiting period is over, the court can proceed with your case. If it’s not too busy, the hearing can even happen on the 61st day. When is a divorce final in Texas? As soon as the Final Decree is signed and filed with the clerk, your divorce is considered finalized.
Factors that Impact Your Timeline
Even if you are filing for divorce in Texas without a lawyer and have no disputes with your spouse, there is no guarantee that you will be divorced as soon as the waiting period is over. Let’s consider why do divorces take so long and the factors that may delay the process.
Problems Serving Your Spouse
One of the most frequently encountered problems with service is that the petitioner does not know the location of their spouse. As a result, it may take a lot of time to locate them and serve the paperwork. And if the spouse is nowhere to be found, the petitioner will need to initiate a divorce by publication process.
A contested (no-agreement) case is considered extremely time-consuming and costly for both spouses. If the couple cannot resolve their disagreements, they have to hire lawyers, engage in negotiations, and invite witnesses or experts to testify during the court process in order to win. Since such a divorce cannot be finalized in one hearing, the couple must be ready for several court appearances that can take more than a year in total.
Domestic violence is the only exception that may potentially make the process shorter. According to state laws, there is no need to wait for 60 days to finalize a divorce in two cases:
- One of the parties was convicted of family violence against the second spouse or other members of the household.
- The affected party has a restrictive order or emergency protection order based on family violence.
If, after the financial disclosure, one of the spouses suspects that the second party is hiding assets, they will need to hire a lawyer or even involve other experts, such as a forensic accountant, to find out the truth. Hiding assets in a divorce is considered a punishable offense in Texas, and the person committing it will be penalized, a factor that may also delay the process.
Child Custody Disputes
Child custody battles are among the most serious issues that may delay a case. If parents are unable to agree on how to split custody, the court will be making a decision taking into account the child’s best interest. The decision will be made based on evidence, witnesses’ testimonies, and opinions of such experts as a child custody evaluator. All of these will extend the marriage dissolution significantly.
The last and most common reason that may delay the divorce process is the court’s caseload. Your local court may simply be overloaded with other cases, so it may take slightly more time than 60 days to get to yours.
How Fast Can You Get a Divorce in Texas
An uncontested divorce is the quickest divorce in Texas. However, sometimes the spouses who decide to file without a lawyer’s assistance face some challenges on their way. One of these challenges is paperwork preparation. It often happens that the couple lacks legal experience and makes mistakes in choosing, filling out, or filing the forms.
If you find yourself in a familiar situation and need to get a fast divorce in Texas for cheap, you can always get help from an online divorce provider. Our company prepares all the needed forms for your dissolution of marriage in Texas for a flat affordable fee. You will only need to fill out a personalized questionnaire to get your paperwork in just 5 days or less.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do you have to be separated before you can file for divorce in Texas?
There is no official requirement for separation in Texas. However, you can file your marriage dissolution on the basis of separation as your divorce ground. In this case, you must be separated for at least 3 years.
How long does it take to get divorce papers filed in Texas?
It may take days or even weeks to complete and file all the paperwork. However, if you decide to work with an online service like ours, you will get your forms in just a few days and will also receive a guide on how to file on your own.
How long does it take to get a divorce decree in Texas?
The judge will sign Your Divorce Decree during the final hearing, which will take place at least 60 days after you file the initial paperwork. You will need to file the Decree with the clerk after the hearing and may get the certified copies right away.
Elizabeth Lopez is a former legal assistant and now a licensed social worker with a master’s degree from The University of Michigan. Having over six years of experience in the field, she covers topics on mental health, marriage therapy, and the divorce process. Elizabeth is a regular contributor to divorce blogs like sasforwomen.com and marriage.com and is planning to start her own professional blog.