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The Basics of Filing for Divorce in Texas

Going through divorce is a long and complicated process it doesn’t help that it happens to be one of the most emotional times of many people’s lives.  It is also a process that has been stigmatized for years.  As such, not everyone knows too much about the process.

To help you better understand the process of divorce in Texas we have created this quick guide about filing for divorce.

Mandatory Texas Residency

Like with many states, Texas has a requirement for residency in order to file for divorce.  At least one party in the divorce must have resided in Texas for at least 6 months before filing.

There is an additional requirement that you must have lived in your county for at least 90 days.  This prevents people from attempting to file from out of state using the Texas courts.

Grounds For Divorce

In most states, there are two different types of divorce that you can file for.  These are at fault and no-fault.  Texas is a mixed state, meaning that they will hear cases for both at fault and no-fault divorces.

No-fault divorces are the most common cases that Texas courts hear.  It means that there is no blame for the divorce.  Both parties have agreed that the marriage has failed.  Both parties agree that there are unreconcilable differences.

It is rare for someone to file for a fault based divorce but it does happen.  In these cases there is some reason to blame a party for the divorce.  Texas law sets out several circumstances which are grounds for such divorce.

  • Abandonment For 1+ Years
  • Adultery (Cheating)
  • Cruel Treatment (Domestic Violence)
  • Felony Conviction (Major Crime)
  • Mental Institution Stay of 3+ Years

Required Forms

In order to get a divorce there are certain required forms.  These forms are set forth by the court and there are a several that you need to have prepared for the initial petition for divorce.  These are:

  • Original Petition for Divorce
  • Summons for Petition of Divorce
  • Citation (Or Waiver of Citation)
  • Service of Process Notice
  • Divorce Decree

These forms, once completed, are filed with the county in which you are residing or the other party resides.

If you think that the other party will attempt to get rid of property in any form (sell, move, etc), you can request a temporary restraining order.  Due to the divorce process being difficult enough, the restraining order will also require that both parties treat each other fairly and with civility.

Should you request a temporary restraining order the case must be scheduled within 14 days for filing.  Otherwise, the other party has 20 days to respond to the paperwork.

Process Serving

During a divorce both parties need to be aware under Texas law.  There is a formal process for this known as process serving or more formally service of process.  In Texas you can serve someone with the divorce paperwork with the following methods:

  • Process Server
  • Sheriff or Constable Service
  • Service Via Publication

If both parties are agreeing to the divorce, the one being served can sign a waiver of service which allows the court to proceed without a formal service.

Private process servers are used in cases when the divorce isn’t quite amicable or there was no violence as a cause for the divorce.  Should there be a threat of violence or another issue, a sheriff’s deputy or constable will serve the paperwork.

Service by publication is used for those who are unable to contact their spouse.  Instead of directly delivering a notice and copy of the paperwork to a party, it is published in the newspaper.  Posting the required paperwork can be costly but at the same time it is quicker than searching for the other party potentially for years.

Financial Information Disclosure

Many Texas counties require that the parties involved in the divorce submit inventoried documents of their financial information and exchange said information with each other.  This includes all forms of financial information from investment accounts to standard bank accounts to business accounts and more.

Getting a divorce is a difficult process but with the help of this information you can make it a little bit easier.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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