The Divorce Process
Just as all marriages are unique, so are the circumstances under which married couples choose to get divorced. As a result, no single “best” approach to the divorce process fits every couple’s needs. Texas recognizes that not all divorces progress in the same way. Therefore, the state permits a few different approaches to the dissolution of marital unions.
The most straightforward approach to ending a marriage in Texas is an “agreed divorce.” An agreed divorce may be filed if both spouses agree to the divorce and all of its terms. A couple drafts a divorce agreement that addresses all relevant property division, child custody, parenting time, and child support matters. Because they agree to all their divorce terms, a judge is not called upon to settle differences between the spouses.
Texas Divorce Process Lawyers
You’ve decided to make a huge change in your life, and that can be overwhelming. You and your spouse may not agree on different topics, which can cause tensions to run high. It’s important to understand all of your legal rights and options as you navigate the complex divorce process. To receive experienced legal counsel, contact Horak Law today.
Texas family law attorney Matthew Horak is prepared to answer all of your legal questions. Call Horak Law at (713) 225-8000 to schedule a free consultation.
Horak Law has offices in The Woodlands and Houston, TX.
- Contested Divorce Vs. Uncontested Divorce in Texas
- Fault Versus No-Fault Divorce
- Property Division Concerns
- Child Custody Concerns
- Divorce Versus Annulment
- Additional Resources
Contested Divorce Vs. Uncontested Divorce in Texas
The term “uncontested divorce” is often used interchangeably with “agreed divorce” in Texas. An uncontested divorce is a process wherein both spouses ultimately agree to the terms of their divorce without judicial intervention. However, agreed divorce usually refers to divorce processes that are straightforward from the start. Both spouses know what they want and are ready to move forward. By contrast, spouses who need assistance settling their differences may use uncontested processes such as mediation or attorney-led negotiation to help them get to the point at which they can sign a fair and mutually-beneficial divorce agreement.
By contrast, a contested divorce occurs when fundamental differences exist between the parties. A judge is called upon to hear each side’s arguments and to rule based on what they believe to be fair under the circumstances. Contested divorces tend to be more expensive and time-intensive than uncontested divorces. However, they can’t always be avoided, and understandably, there will be situations that are better heard by a judge.
If a spouse serves the other with divorce papers and the other spouse doesn’t respond, the petitioning spouse may be granted a “default divorce.” This means that a judge rules in favor of the petitioning party because the other party didn’t respond to the divorce request.
Fault Versus No-Fault Divorce
Under Chapter Six of the Texas Family Code, spouses can file for divorce on fault-based grounds or no-fault grounds. Most spouses choose to file for no-fault divorce. Generally, couples who file for no-fault divorce do so jointly and on the grounds of irreconcilable differences (also referred to as insupportability). Essentially, this means that both parties agree that they wish to dissolve their marriage, and neither party must prove to the court that one party (specifically) caused the end of the marriage.
Fault-based divorces can be filed on one of four grounds: Abandonment, Felony Conviction, Adultery, or Cruelty. The spouse who files for divorce on fault-based grounds must prove that the other spouse was responsible for the need to dissolve the marriage. It is sometimes advantageous to file for a fault-based divorce, as a judgment in one’s favor could influence the outcome of a property distribution or child custody dispute.
Property Division Concerns
Because Texas is a community property state, virtually all property – as well as debt – acquired throughout a marriage is presumed to be marital property. That property must be divided evenly between divorcing spouses unless the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement, post-nuptial agreement, or some other exception to this broad approach apply.
It is, therefore, vital for spouses whose finances are complex or are considered “high-asset wealth” to consult an attorney before filing for divorce. Without an exact accounting of all marital property and the value of each asset, it may be challenging to secure a fair property evaluation and division settlement award. Similarly, any spouse concerned that an even split of marital property is not fair due to various circumstances should also speak with an attorney about their options.
Child Custody Concerns
Any time a minor child’s parents engage in a romantic split – divorce, annulment, void marriage, legal separation, or non-marital split – the family courts compel parents to seek formal child custody and support orders. As long as both parents intend to remain in their child’s life – in any significant way – a parenting agreement must generally be drafted as well. Parenting agreements govern the daily challenges of co-parenting, outlining matters such as when a child will reside with each parent and how holidays and special occasions will be managed. Unless a couple agrees on every single term of their custody and co-parenting arrangements, consulting an attorney is advised before filing for divorce.
Divorce Versus Annulment
Divorces are granted when a couple has legally married and wishes to dissolve that union. Annulments occur when a judge concedes that a union isn’t legally valid. Generally, marriages aren’t considered legally valid, for example, if one of the parties is closely related to the other in specific ways or if one isn’t old enough to marry legally. Additionally, an annulment may be granted if at least one of the parties was unwilling, had no knowledge of critically important facts about their romantic partner, or was not of sound mind when the marriage occurred.
Annulment proceedings can impact the dissolution of a union in significant ways. Because, in granting an annulment, a judge is decreeing that a marriage contract did not legally bind the two parties in question together, their assets are not subject to the same community property division standards that the assets of divorcing couples are. The fact that a legal marriage never existed may also impact tax liability, parentage, child custody concerns, and a host of other issues.
Divorce: General Information – Access the official website for the Texas State Law Library which explains essential terminology related to the divorce process and provides links to E-books on the subject.
Commonly Requested Divorce Forms – Access the official website for the Texas State Law Library which provides links to Texas divorce forms and forms related to the annulment process.
Houston Divorce Process Lawyer | Harris County, TX
At Horak Law, Houston family law attorney Matthew Horak understands the emotional and legal complexities of the divorce process, and the difficult toll it can have on any family. If you are navigating a divorce, he is here to support you through the legal aspects of this process. With years of experience, attorney Horak is a skilled advocate dedicated to representing your interests.
Horak Law has two locations in Houston and The Woodlands, but attorney Horak also accepts clients in Harris County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, Waller County, Fort Bend County, and Liberty County, Texas. Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 or submit an online contact form to schedule your first consultation.