Frequently Asked Questions

What if my spouse does not want a divorce?

This does not matter in Texas. Texas is a no-fault divorce state, which means fault does not have to be at issue for the termination of the marriage.

Will Texas courts grant a legal separation?

No. Legal separation is not available in Texas. In lieu of legal separation, Texas courts require parties to file for divorce and obtain temporary orders. Additionally, some counties/courts have standing orders that go into effect upon filing an original petition. Functionally, these orders operate to protect spouses like legal separation does in other states.

How long does it take to get divorced?

There is a 60 day waiting period in Texas. The clock starts when the original petition is filed in court.  Most divorces take longer, some can take years. The more the parties can agree upon, the faster the process.

How long must I wait to remarry?

30 days. This is how long your spouse has to appeal the divorce.

What if I have a common law marriage?

A common law marriage is just a marriage without a license. You have a Texas common law marriage if you agreed to be married (and there is evidence of this), held yourself out as husband and wife, and cohabitated. There is no minimum time needed for cohabitation, a single night may satisfy this element. Holding out as a married couple could include introductions, tax returns, insurance forms. Each case, however, will be fact and circumstance specific. If you did have a common law marriage, but have been separated for over two years, Texas will presume you were never married.

How does Texas classify property?

Texas is a community property presumption state. All property (and debts) owned at the time of divorce is presumed to be the property of both the husband and the wife.  This is a rebuttable presumption.

Separate property is the property acquired by a spouse before marriage or the property acquired during marriage through a gift or inheritance, or property acquired with funds that are a spouse’s separate property. Separate property can also be created by a proper written agreement which partitions community property.

How are property, assets, liabilities, and debts divided?

The court will adhere to the just and right division standard, or what the court “deems just and right, having due regard for the rights of each party and any children of the marriage.”  Accordingly, community property and debt does not have to be divided equally. The court will consider many factors before dividing community property (separate property cannot be divided). Factors include disparities of income opportunity, education, fault, debt, etc.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a common method used to reach an agreement outside of court. A neutral person, called a mediator, meets with the parties to help facilitate an agreement. Mediation is more fully described in Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Are parenting classes required?

Most of the time, when there are minor children, a parenting class is required. A parenting class will teach divorcing parties how to focus on the best interest of their children.

When is a divorce final?

A divorce is final when the Judge signs a Final Decree of Divorce.

What is proper court conduct and dress?

Be nice. I will be tough. Your best behavior is expected. The judge and court personnel are to be treated with the utmost of respect. When appropriate, speak clearly and politely. You must verbalize all responses. The judge is always to be addressed as Your Honor, Sir, or Ma’am. Interruption will not be tolerated. If the judge addresses you or an attorney while you are speaking, stop speaking immediately.

I tell all my clients to dress like they are going church. Court proceedings are not fashion shows. Men should wear a suit and tie (at the very least, pants and a collar shirt). Women should wear a conservative dress, skirt, or suit with a non-excessive application of jewelry/makeup. Prohibited items include shorts, sunglasses, hats, food, drink, etcetera. Cell phones should be off or silent.

Who can I bring with me to court?

Court proceedings, even in a divorce, are open to the public; therefore you can bring any adult with you for support during your court matter. They are welcome to watch the proceeding as well, provided they are not witnesses and ‘the rule’ has not been invoked.   Unless directed, children should NOT be brought to the courthouse.