What is involved in getting a Texas divorce?

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In order to file for a divorce in Texas, at least one party must live in the state for at least six months prior to filing. Additionally, that party must live in the county of filing for at least 90 days prior to filing. Once the divorce petition is filed, there is a 60-day "cooling off" period. Therefore, the soonest a divorce may be finalized is the 61st day after filing. Upon filing of a divorce petition, either party may request that temporary orders be entered with the court. These orders may provide temporary guidelines as to how the property should be used during the pendency of the divorce. Additionally, these orders may provide guidelines for temporary custody (visitation and access) of the children of the marriage. In addition to granting a divorce, a Texas divorce court may hear issues regarding property and children of the marriage. Divorce in Texas may be based on fault or "no-fault" grounds. A judge decides property division issues, and fault in the breakup of the marriage may be a significant factor in the division of property. Marital property in Texas consists of separate property and community property. Separate property consists of property owned by a spouse prior to marriage or property acquired by gift, devise or descent. All other property (including income) accumulated during the marriage is presumed to be community property. If there are children of the marriage, the presumption in Texas is that both spouses will be named joint managing conservators of the children. Absent a showing that joint managing conservatorship is not in the best interest of the child (i.e., a finding of family violence), a court is likely to find that joint managing conservatorship is proper and award one parent the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the children. 

In a majority of cases, the court will require the parties to attend mediation prior to a final trial of the case. Mediation is a formal "settlement conference" where the parties have an opportunity, with the help of a neutral third-party mediator, to settle their case outside of the courthouse. This may provide the parties with more flexibility to arrive at a solution that works best for their situation but may not otherwise be awarded by the court. If mediation is successful, the written Mediated Settlement Agreement ("MSA") is binding, and a divorce decree may be drafted that is based on the parties' agreement and entered with the court. If mediation fails, the parties may let a judge or jury decide certain aspects of their case.

Answered 01/15/2014

Disclaimer: This answer was provided by an attorney selected to Super Lawyers, and is intended to be an educated opinion only. This answer should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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