Deciding to get divorced is often a scary and daunting decision, and those choosing to file for divorce often have questions regarding the legal process and what to expect throughout it.
In order to, hopefully, quell some anxiety and make the process easier for people considering divorce, I have gathered some frequently asked questions by prospective clients.
1. How long do I have to wait for my divorce to be finalized?
This is a question I get asked very often, although it’s easy to Google and find the answer. Here in Texas, a divorce cannot be finalized until 60 days after the original petition is filed. While 60 days is the bare minimum parties must wait to finalize their divorce, in most cases, parties are hardly divorced at the 60-day mark. Realistically, it simply takes longer than 60 days for parties to figure out how they are going to resolve the issues in their divorce. This is especially true in cases where one party has little to no knowledge of the couple’s finances. So, it behooves you to realize that although your divorce can be finalized in 60 days, it might take longer than that.
2. Do I have to be married in Texas to file for divorce here? How long do I have to live
in Texas to file for divorce?
You do not have to be married in Texas to file for divorce here; you just have to meet the residency requirements. The party filing for divorce must be domiciled in Texas for the preceding 6-months. The party must also be a resident of the county where the divorce is filed for the preceding 90 days.
3. Can I kick my husband/wife out of the house after filing for divorce?
Yes and no.
If you fear for your safety or the safety of your children, you can definitely file for a protective order and get your spouse out of the house without going in front of a judge. If that is not the case, you can request a temporary hearing where the judge will grant one party the exclusive use of the residence, but be careful, it might not be you!
4. Is my divorce contested or uncontested?
This is actually a question I ask my prospective clients, but I believe there is often confusion about what a contested versus uncontested divorce is. Many clients mistakenly tell me that their divorce is uncontested because they are not opposed to the divorce itself. However, they are still arguing about custody, property division, or debt division.
For clarification, an uncontested divorce is one where both parties are basically in agreement, but they need a lawyer to draft up legal documents and maybe hash out a few odds and ends. Therefore, even if you and your spouse agree that you want to get divorced, but can’t decide how split up your assets, it becomes contested.
5. Do I have to go to court?
It depends. If you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement regarding your assets, debts, and custody of your children, you will only have to go to court once to prove up your divorce in front of the judge. If this is the case, only one party has to go, as long as the other one signs the final divorce decree. If you are not able to come to an agreement at mediation or informally, a final trial is likely.
Hopefully these FAQs answer some of your questions about the divorce process, and calms some nerves about what you are facing moving forward. If you have more questions, feel free to contact us so we can help you along in your process.
(By Jeana Patel,)