Married couples that experience serious challenges in their marriage face the question of whether the marriage can be preserved or not. In most cases, with great effort, counseling and support from friends and family, these challenges can be overcome. In the event that one or both spouses decides to terminate the marriage relationship, decisions must be made about how to proceed. If the spouses can work together to reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce, the divorce process is fairly smooth and simple. This process is known as an "uncontested divorce". Today's blog will outline the procedure for an uncontested divorce in Texas.
Filing the petition
The first step in an uncontested divorce is the preparation and filing of an Original Petition for Divorce. To be filed in Texas, one of the parties must be domiciled in Texas for the preceding 6 months. Also, the petition must be filed with the District Clerk in the county in which one of the parties has resided for the preceding 90 days. The petition is a relatively short document that simply requests a divorce.
Grounds for divorce
For the Court to have authority to grant a divorce, there must be sufficient proof to justify the divorce. Texas is known as a "no-fault" divorce state. Essentially, sufficient proof for divorce exists in Texas if one of the parties can testify that the marriage has become insupportable due to discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the letigimate ends of the marriage relationship, and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation. Only in extremely rare occasions does a Texas judge question whether this is true or not.
Generally, Texas law requires that the petition be on file for at least 60 days before the Court can grant the divorce. The purpose of this provision in Texas law is to ensure that the parties have sufficient time to reflect on whether reconciliation is possible and to ensure that the parties really do want a divorce.
Finalizing the divorce
Once the 60 day waiting period has passed, the attorney for one of the parties prepares the Final Decree of Divorce and any other closing documents (income withholding order for child support, Qualified Domestic Relations Order, Powers of Attorney to Transfer Motor Vehicles, Special Warranty Deed, etc.). The attorney then coordinates with the Court to arrange a hearing date. On the appointed date, the parties meet at the courthouse, and when called, approach the bench. The attorney then asks a series of simple, pertinent questions to establish the Court's jurisdiction over the matter and the grounds for divorce. If the Judge is satisfied that the Court has jurisdiction, that the grounds for divorce have been satifisfied, that any provisions pertaining to the children are in the best interest of the children and that the division of the marital estate is fair and equitable to both spouses, the Court will grant the divorce and approve the proposed Final Decree of Divorce.
For spouses who experience troubled marriages, it is important to understand the procedure for handling a divorce, should that last-resort option be necessary. The attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm have extensive experience representing spouses in divorce matters. For additional information about how Texas law applies to your individual circumstances, please contact the offices of Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio.