If you are considering getting a divorce while living in Texas, there are some important pieces of information you should know ahead of time. This will help prevent any unnecessary headaches as you go through this difficult change in your life. While this is not a complete list of all Texas divorce laws, we have found these are quite helpful to know going forward. As always, it is recommended you speak with a qualified divorce lawyer before beginning any divorce proceedings. At the Law Office of Tobie Kuykendall, we have the experience and knowledge to assist you with your divorce.
-There’s a Residency Requirement
In order to file for divorce in Texas, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months. Once this requirement has been met, either spouse can file for divorce.
-Common Law Observed
Texas recognizes common law marriages, but there are a few required pieces in order for it to be recognized. As such, both partners must have agreed to the marriage, lived together in the state as husband and wife, and presented yourselves as married to others. If these conditions are met, a divorce will still need to be filed in order to end the common law marriage.
-Grounds for Getting Divorced
Texas law observes many possible options as grounds for divorce. These include, but are not limited to: irreconcilable differences, adultery, abandonment, commitment to a mental health facility for at least three years, felony conviction leading to at least one year of imprisonment, cruel and inhumane treatment, or a separation of at least three years.
-Court Orders to Follow
A court may issue temporary orders prior to a divorce being finalized, typically to handle pressing issues like child custody or determining financial support expectations. These orders can also address who will stay in the home, who can access joint bank accounts, and who retains custody of the children. Texas requires any divorcing couple to go through mediation prior to trial; though this mediation may be employed to handle these temporary court orders. If specifically requested, the spouses may have a trial with a jury, though far more often a judge oversees a trial.
-The Limits of Alimony
Generally speaking, alimony payments are limited to three years. This is because, by its nature, it is supposed to be temporary assistance. Alimony is only awarded when a spouse that has been in a marriage for at least ten years is unable to support themselves post-divorce. An exception is made when domestic violence is involved, leading to the violent party’s conviction during the divorce proceedings.
-Custody of Children
As Texas law is written, it is assumed that joint custody is in the best interest of any children involved. This is naturally taken into consideration in violent or otherwise abusive situations. Above all else, a child’s safety is the main focus of custody decisions. The court will be the one to define any rights and responsibilities required of any caretakers awarded custody.
-Determining Child Support
Child Support in Texas is calculated using a percentage of income formula, which then determines how much a non-custodial parent must pay. This formula takes a percentage of the income of the non-custodial parent, the amount of which is based on how many children will require support. The court may order either both or a single parent to continue child support payments until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates high school (whichever event takes place later). Another reason child support would no longer need to be paid is if the child receives an emancipation. However, support may be required indefinitely if the child is disabled.
-Division of Assets
Marital property is observed as community property in Texas. What that means is, any property that a spouse owns during a marriage is shared between both parties. Marital debt is handled much in the same way and is divided at the same time as property. Any property owned by a spouse prior to marriage stays their property and is not included in the division of assets. Property connected to children is typically divided unequally, with more of these items staying with the primary caretaker. It’s important to note, Texas divorce law does not require community property to be divided equally.
These were just a few of the helpful bits of information to consider when getting a divorce in Texas. Divorce law has a lot of intricacies and varies from state to state, so even if you have a familiarity with another state’s laws, it’s incredibly advantageous to read up on the specifics where you are. If you have further questions or want clarification catered to your situation, please don’t hesitate to call us at the Law Office of Tobie Kuykendall. It’s imperative you go into your divorce with someone that has your back, and we would love to be your support in this trying time. We will fight for you!