It is often said that everything is bigger in Texas. However, the Lone Star state is actually only the second largest state in the U.S. in both size and population. That distinction does make Texas the state with the most people in the most places though, and many of the over 25 million Texas residents are getting divorced each year. According to the state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics, a steady rate of about 100,000 Texas divorces per year have been recorded over the last five years. Half of the divorces involve dependant children, with an estimated 70,000 kids under age 18 affected by Texas divorces. Like the state itself, the numbers are big.
Divorce laws in the United States are state specific and in Texas they can also be county-specific, as each of the 254 counties in Texas can have special local processes in addition to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. This means a divorce in Texas will be handled according to the county it is filed in and the particular court that hears it. However, statewide, Texas is a mixed divorce law state, allowing both “fault” and “no-fault” grounds when seeking a divorce. One spouse must be a Texas resident for at least 6 months before they can file for divorce. When they do file, most Texas divorces are of the no-fault variety with fault grounds applied when disputes over issues like custody and property arise. Appropriate grounds for marriage fault in Texas are cruelty, adultery, felony imprisonment for a year, abandonment for one year, separation for three years or mental hospital confinement for three years.
Texas is a community property state where all income earned and property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered property of the marriage and owned equally by both parties. At the time of divorce, all assets and property are divided between spouses. Texas child support guidelines require both parents to continue contact and support of all dependant children after divorce. The courts assign the amount of child support according to each parent’s earning capability and resources. Visitation schedules are determined by the court based on the best interests of the children involved.
All Texas divorces are filed within the District Court of Texas of the county in which at least one of the parties in the divorce resides. Respondents must have been a county resident for 90 days prior to filing in addition to the 6-month state residency requirement. Texas courts encourage the use of divorce mediation and can make mediation agreements binding in settlement agreements. The Texas courts believe mediation can help save time and money in uncontested divorces. If your Texas divorce is likely to be complicated or contested, it might be best to arrange an initial consultation with a lawyer specializing in divorce and family law in your county.