Divorce is an unfortunate event, without divorce laws the process would be much more rocky. Divorce laws in Texas can be separated into several categories including the basics and grounds for divorce, annulment and legal separation, maintenance and child custody, and property division.
There are many details associated with divorce, but some of the basics are as follows. In order for a spouse to file for divorce in Texas they must have been residents in Texas for a specified period of time depending on their personal circumstances such as if they are in the military. It is advised that if one party in married that they wait until the baby is born, so that it may be included in the final decree. A petition for divorce may be filed with the district court and the other spouse must be given legal notice. If one party does not respond to the legal notice then it may be possible for the other party to finish the process. There is approximately a sixty day waiting period, but there is an opportunity to shorten the waiting period if there is evidence of domestic violence. There is a thirty day time period after the divorce decree where neither is allowed to remarry. Collaborative divorce is a process where the tow parties attempt to resolve their dissolution of marriage dispute without resorting to judicial intervention. A party is allowed to change their name upon specific request unless the court denies it within the decree. Legal separations are not recognized in Texas, it simply allows for entrance into a written agreement concerning property division and maintenance while dissolution suits are pending.
Their must be legal grounds within the marriage for a divorce to be seriously considered, and in the state of Texas there are 7 statutory grounds. The first is if the marriage has become insupportable due to discord in the relationship preventing any possibilities of reconciliation. Cruelty, such as domestic violence, towards one party which provides for an unsafe living environment is the second. An act of adultery or abandonment of one party for at least one year are tow other statutory grounds. If one party commits a felony and is imprisoned for a minimum of one year in a federal penitentiary and has not been pardoned it provides legal ground for a divorce. If the couple has lived apart without cohabitation for at least three years divorce is possible. Finally if one of the spouses has been confined to a state mental hospital in any state for at least three years and the illness proves to be incurable or maintains a high probability of relapse also provide the legal ground for divorce.
Annulments are available if they married in Texas or one of them lives in the state. The legal grounds for an annulment include details around the time of the marriage including age, influence of drugs, fraud, threats, lack of mental understanding, concealment of a divorce of, or the time that annulment suit is filed in regard to the marriage and marriage license. Marriage voids are a viable option if one party to the marriage is related to the other, bigamy, age unless a court order was obtained, or if one party is a current or former stepchild or stepparent of the other party. Marriages can become valid again if the void is due to bigamy when the prior marriage is dissolved.
Since Texas is a community property state, the court is allowed to divide marital property in a matter they deem to be correct. Property acquired outside of Texas is divided with the same guidelines in mind. There are different instances where property can be can be considered a spouse’s separate property if is purchased by the spouse while living in another state or property acquired in exchange for real or personal property. The court will also determine divisions of property in regards to pension, retirement plans, insurance, different types of savings plans and other financial plans as well as what items may be subject to taxation. Maintenance is an award of periodic payments from one spouse to the other based on the income of both. In order for this to be a viable option, the person required to make the payments must have been convicted of a criminal offense or the spouse receiving the payments must be unable to sufficiently support their own minimum reasonable needs, while also coinciding with several other technicalities. When determining the amount of maintenance the court reviews the financial resources available, the education and employment skills, the duration of the marriage, age, physical and emotional conditions, spending histories, past contributions as spouses, as well as a couple other minor details. The court may order the maintenance for however long they deem fit based on the needs of the spouse receiving the money, and it will be up for periodic review. The amount will either be monthly payments of 2,500 dollars or 20 percent of their monthly income, whichever is smaller.
Sole managing conservator of the child or children is the primary course of action when deciding child custody, which is where one is awarded custody and the other has visitation. The court mainly takes into account the best interests of the child or children. When parents cannot come to an agreement, the judge may appoint joint legal custody based on the needs and development of the children, parent’s abilities to provide, parents’ abilities to work together, parent’s participation prior to the divorce, geographical proximity, and child’s age. The court determines and takes into account any past history of physical abuse which may affect visitation, exchanging of children, drug abstinence, and prevention programs. The amount of monetary support provided by one parent is decided based on number of children and net resources and can be ordered for differing lengths based on circumstances. Certain deviations from the guidelines can be ordered based upon age and needs of the child or the abilities and resources of the parent.