How Long Does a Divorce Take in Texas?
The average timeline for most uncontested divorces in Texas is about 90 to 120 days. There is a mandatory 60-day waiting period after filing a Complaint for Divorce. For fault divorces, the timeline can be anywhere between 6 months and 2 years, depending on the complexity of the case.
As a rule, the divorce timeline in Texas consists of the following steps:
- Pre-filing period when a petitioner prepares the documents for the court.
- Filing the petition for divorce with the court.
- Serving the spouse with the notice.
- Receiving the respondent’s answer.
- Complying with a 60-day waiting period for divorce in Texas.
- Attending the final hearing.
- Filing a signed divorce decree with the clerk.
It is difficult to estimate the exact time a divorce may take as there are different aspects that affect this process. The main factors that impact the duration of the dissolution of marriage are:
- If a divorce is contested or uncontested.
- Child-related issues, like custody and child support.
- Property and assets division.
The more disagreements a couple has, the longer it usually takes to finalize a divorce.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Texas?
The minimum time required to finish the process of divorce in Texas is 61 days due to a mandatory 60-day waiting period, also known as a cooling-off time. It is possible to file for a Texas divorce 60-day waiver only if your spouse has been convicted of a crime involving violence against you.
For other cases, 61 days would be the shortest scenario of getting the marriage dissolution. In practice, however, even an uncontested mutual divorce in Texas takes from three to six months because of the busy schedule of the county courts. It is still much faster to get a divorce when the spouses are cooperative regarding the settlement agreement than when they have disputes.
How Long Does Online Divorce Take?
If you are looking for a fast divorce in Texas, consider using our online divorce service to save your time at the pre-filing stage of the divorce. It will take you less than an hour to complete the questionnaire on the site, and in five days, you will receive your up-to-date, personalized divorce papers in Texas online. From that moment, you can file the original petition with the court that will officially start the process of dissolution of marriage. The further duration of the divorce depends on your specific case, but it usually takes several months. It is important to mention that this easiest way to get a divorce in Texas works only for a full-agreement uncontested no-fault divorce.
How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take?
Contested divorce process may take from half a year to several years in the most complex cases. It greatly depends on the ability of the spouses to reach an agreement on divorce-related issues like property division or child support. Contested divorce can be fault or no-fault, based on the grounds. The most common ground for a no-fault divorce is insupportability when spouses agree that their future living together is unbearable. The reasons for a fault divorce include cruelty, adultery, abandonment, etc., and should be proven in court. The worst scenario is when the spouses cannot solve their disputes outside the courtroom, and the case goes to trial. The contested divorce procedure consists of several stages:
- Once the respondent receives the copy of the original petition and other forms applicable for the case, they file the answer where they state the issues they don’t agree with. Typically, contested issues are related to community property and debt division or child-related matters, like custody and child support.
- The next step of the contested divorce is discovery. During this phase, both parties exchange written or oral answers under oath regarding the financial issues, property, etc., that are required to solve the disputes. The process of discovery usually takes up to 30 days, which impacts the total duration of the divorce case. Sometimes, discovery is enough to resolve disagreements, and the couple’s lawyers can move on with preparing the settlement agreement.
- If the parties haven’t reached a consensus after discovery, the next possible options can be arbitration, mediation, or collaborative law. All of them have the aim to prevent litigation and achieve mutual consent regarding all divorce-related issues. Meditation is a negotiation process in the presence of a neutral mediator. During the arbitration, both parties give evidence in front of an arbitrator, who renders binding decisions regarding each issue. Collaborative law is negotiating disputes between spouses together with collaborative lawyers.
All these processes require thorough preparation from the attorneys, which adds time to the process of divorce.
- In rare cases, when none of the above-mentioned procedures leads to conflict resolution, the case goes to trial. The trial is scheduled based on the court’s calendar, so the waiting time can be weeks or even months. It also requires decent preparation from lawyers, which drastically increases the total cost of divorce. Moreover, the couple loses control over the decision-making process by giving it to the court. When the judge renders the final resolution, the couple must either accept it or spend even more time and money on the appeals procedures. That is the main reason why it is highly recommended to reach an agreement outside the courtroom and avoid litigation.
How Long Does a Divorce Take in Texas With a Child?
Getting a divorce in Texas with a child usually takes from six months to more than a year if the spouses cannot agree on the custody and child support. Divorce is stressful for all parties as it leads to changes in the everyday routine. Therefore, a child’s well-being and happiness are a priority when it comes to the dissolution of marriage.
When a couple decides to file for divorce with kids in Texas, it is important to meet the residency requirements. If a child hasn’t lived in Texas for the last six months, it is no longer considered a child’s home state, and the court has no right to make custody and child-support decisions.
The total duration of the divorce with children varies and depends on various factors, for example, whether the spouses are cooperative in child-related issues or not. The fastest scenario is when both spouses mutually agree on questions of physical and legal custody.
Unless there is a case of abuse, it is common for both parents to share responsibilities of child raising and apply for joint custody.
Many Texas courts have a requirement that parents should complete a parenting class before the divorce can be finalized. These classes usually last from 4 hours to 12 hours and help parents prepare for the procedure, learn the possible consequences of the divorce, and find out how it can affect a child. Spouses can attend the classes together or separately. Once they receive a certificate of completion, it should be filed with the court. All the paperwork must be also sent to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) Child Support Division.
Moreover, not all divorces are amiable, and disputes regarding custody and child support often arise. It may take a long time for both parties to resolve such disagreements with the help of child custody lawyers during the process of discovery, mediation, or arbitration.
If the case goes to trial, then a judge will make the final decision to make sure that the best interest of the child is met.
How Long Does It Take to Be Served with Divorce Papers?
Speaking about the timeline of the divorce in Texas, it is important to know how long serving divorce papers takes. As a rule, once one of the spouses files the original petition with the court, they are responsible for serving the other spouse with the copy of the petition and citation – a document that informs the respondent of the deadline for filing the answer, unless they signed the waiver of service. According to Texas divorce laws, the petitioner must file the answer within 20 days after being served. A failure to respond in the given time frame can lead to a default divorce.
How Long for Divorce to Be Final in Texas?
An approximate duration of divorce from the moment of filing the original petition with the court to the dissolution of marriage being final is:
- From three months to half a year for uncontested no-fault divorce;
- From six months to a year for a divorce with children;
- From half a year to several years for complex contested cases
The last step in the process of dissolution of marriage is to finalize divorce in Texas. When all the issues have been negotiated, they should be incorporated into the Final Divorce Decree, which will be revised and signed by the judge. Depending on the case, either petitioner or both spouses must attend the final divorce hearing in Texas. The hearing itself can take from several minutes in case of an uncontested divorce to several hours in more complex contested cases. Finally, divorce papers signed by the judge must be filed with the clerk and both spouses should get a copy of the Decree. From that moment, the divorce is considered officially finalized.
Factors That Can Impact How Long a Divorce Takes in Texas
The answer to a common question, “Why does divorce take so long?” is that it depends on a variety of factors. On the one hand, spouses can speed up the process of divorce if they are cooperative and work together towards a mutual agreement. On the other hand, there are some legal procedures that require time and cannot be omitted. The most common factors that impact the duration of divorce include:
1. Conflict and Disagreements Over Important Matters
The more disputes a couple has, the longer it takes to find the right solution for both parties. The best way to avoid a lengthy and expensive divorce is to try to negotiate all the important matters beforehand.
2. How Complicated the Case Is
The complexity of divorce also affects its duration, especially if the case goes to trial. It may take several years to get the dissolution of marriage if the agreement over child-related issues or property and debt division is not reached.
3. Unforeseen Circumstances
In rare cases, one of the spouses or their lawyer can intentionally drag out the divorce in an attempt to bring the case to trial, where the judge will make the final decision over the contested matters.
Another unforeseen situation is when one of the spouses passes away during a divorce. In such a case, the divorce procedure will cease once the court receives a death certificate. The property division issues will no longer be valid. The spouse may potentially inherit the property of the deceased partner depending on their will, estate plan, or intestate succession.