Fort Bend County Family Law Attorney

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Divorce FAQ’s

How do I obtain a divorce in Texas?

In order to obtain a divorce in Texas, one of the spouses of the marriage must meet the states residency requirements and file a document entitled Original Petition for Divorce with the appropriate Texas court.

How long must I live in Texas in order to obtain a divorce in Texas?

Before you may obtain a divorce in Texas, either you or your spouse must have lived in Texas for at least six (6) months. In addition, you or your spouse must have lived in the county in which you file your Texas divorce petition for at least ninety (90) days.

One exception to the county residency rule applies to a Petitioner (the spouse filing the divorce) who lives outside of Texas.  In this circumstance, so long as the other spouse has lived in Texas for at least six months, the 90 day rule concerning residency in the same county does not apply.  The divorce may be filed in the county in which the spouse in Texas lives, regardless of the duration of their residency in that county.

Does Texas have a waiting period for divorce? If so, how long is it and when does it begin?

Yes. Texas, like all states in the United States, requires that you wait a certain number days before you may obtain a divorce in the vast majority of cases. A common misperception, however, exists as to how that waiting period is calculated.

State law requires that a person filing for divorce in Texas to wait at least sixty (60) days before they may ask the court to finalize a divorce. This time period begins on the day you file your Texas divorce petition with the court. There is no requirement that you must be separated for a particular length of time, nor do you need to be married for any particular length of time. The waiting period only begins once you file your Texas divorce petition.

For the purpose of counting the number of days, the day you file the divorce petition is day 0, the following day is day 1 and so on.

An exception to the sixty day waiting period exists for spouses who have been victims of domestic violence.

Does Texas have legal separation?

No. Unlike other states, where you may be required to be legally separated from your spouse for a specified length of time before filing divorce, Texas does not recognize any sort of legal separation. Therefore, there is no need to file any paperwork with Texas courts to notify them of the fact that you have separated from your spouse.

Moreover, it is important for anyone considering a divorce to understand that marital property includes all property acquired during a divorce, not just prior to separation.  Therefore, you should confer with an attorney before entering into any major transactions (e.g., purchasing a home or a car) before your divorce is actually finalized.

Once I file my petition for divorce in Texas, what happens next? 

In an ideal situation, prior to filing your Texas divorce petition, you will have already discussed the divorce with your spouse and the two of you may have already agreed on how to divide your community property and how to deal with child custody. In this case, usually referred to in Texas as an uncontested divorce, the next step would be to obtain a waiver of service from your spouse, sparing the expense and effort associated with having your spouse served with the divorce petition.

Once the waiver of service is filed with the court by your Houston divorce attorney, the agreement reached between you and your spouse regarding the community property and the children would be written out into a document called the Agreed Final Decree of Divorce. This document, once completed, would be signed by you and your spouse and then presented to a Texas court once the 60 day waiting period has expired. Assuming the court approves the decree, you and your spouse will be considered divorced upon the judge pronouncing you as such, and that would be the end of the judicial process.

What if my spouse and I cannot agree on the division of our community property or custody of our children in a Texas divorce?

Unfortunately, many Texas divorces result in conflict and disagreement over the final decree. Luckily, a good Houston divorce lawyer may be able to reach agreement, even if that seems unlikely at first.

If your spouse is uncooperative regarding the divorce, you will need to have them served with the divorce petition. This is usually accomplished through the sheriff or constables office, or through the use of a private process server. Once your spouse has been served, he or she must file an answer to your petition with the court within a certain amount of time, or else they are considered in default. If the waiting period and the time for your spouse to answer has expired, you may be able to obtain a Texas divorce decree on your own terms without any input from your spouse.

If your spouse responds to the divorce before you can obtain a default decree, however, there are other ways to open communications with your spouse and achieve agreement, including negotiation with your spouse and/or your spouse’s attorney, or perhaps mediation.

How much does it cost to obtain a divorce in Texas?

The cost of a Texas divorce varies greatly from case to case. In Texas courts, the filing fee for divorce ranges from approximately $250 to $350, depending on a number of factors, including whether there are minor children from the marriage, whether you are seeking a temporary restraining order, and whether you will need to have your spouse served with the divorce petition.

If you and your spouse agree on all aspects of your divorce and simply need a Texas divorce attorney to draft and file the paperwork to complete the divorce, it can be relatively inexpensive. Most Houston divorce attorneys will quote a flat fee for an uncontested divorce, usually ranging from $1,500 to $3,500, depending on the complexity of your custody agreement and the complexity of the agreement concerning the division of community property and/or community debt.

Sometimes, however, agreement cannot be reached, and Texas divorces may result in long, protracted legal battles lasting a year or more. In such cases, a Texas divorce may cost a total of $5,000 or more. Luckily, such cases are rare and the vast majority of Texas divorces are resolved with an agreement between the spouses.

Can’t I just purchase divorce forms online and file them myself?

Theoretically, you could attempt to obtain a Texas divorce on your own. There is no law or rule that requires you to hire a Texas attorney in order to complete your divorce.  Considering, however, the importance of ensuring that your rights to your children and your property are at stake, it is critical to have the advice of an experienced divorce attorney at your side throughout the entire process.  Attempting to handle the process on your own could result in greater costs and hardships later on.

Although hiring a Fort Bend County divorce lawyer is a major expense, many people find that it can greatly reduce the stress involved in obtaining a divorce. The process is already stressful enough as it is with the conflict and emotions involved. Attempting to learn the law, rules and procedure involved, all while trying to negotiate with your spouse and hoping that you have competently protected all of your rights in the process can be an extraordinarily difficult task.

To assist our clients with the expense of attorney’s fees, we are able to accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express for all Texas family law cases.

I need to get a divorce, but I can’t afford it. What should I do?

There are numerous ways to make hiring a Fort Bend County divorce attorney more affordable.  For example, our office is capable of accepting all major credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express.  Also, we may be able to suggest means for you to obtain the retainer often necessary to obtain a divorce.  If you and your spouse are in agreement on all terms of the divorce, we may even be able to offer an affordable flat fee for your divorce. Many attorneys, especially the ones in our office, will work with you within your budget to assist you in getting a divorce.

How much will it cost me to get a divorce?

This can be a very complicated question to answer. The costs involved with a divorce mostly depend on how easily the spouses can agree on how to settle the divorce. If you and your spouse have no children and no property of any consequence, the divorce can cost relatively little compared to those with children, a house and vehicles.

To give you a general range, a very simple divorce can cost as little as $1,500.  A very complex divorce fought tooth and nail throughout can cost $10,000 or more. Remember, the cost often depends more on the spouses than the attorneys involved.

Also, it is important not to focus too much on an attorney’s hourly rate.  While a divorce attorney right out of law school may charge as little as $150 an hour, they will have very little experience and may take much longer to accomplish the same tasks as an experienced divorce lawyer.  Instead, it is important to consider the attorneys experience in conjunction with their hourly fee.

Are there ways to reduce the cost of a divorce?

As long as you and your spouse are both dedicated to being fair, it is quite possible to get a divorce without breaking the bank. We are strident believers in the effectiveness of mediation in family law cases. By agreeing to negotiate your divorce in front of a neutral third-party mediator, you may find that you can settle your divorce in as little as 3-4 hours, without the need for numerous court appearances and extensive investigations.

What if I only need an attorney to draft the paperwork for me?

Our firm now offers the option to retain us on a drafting and consultation basis only. This means that you will represent yourself in court throughout your divorce, with an attorney in our office made available to you on an hourly fee basis for the purpose of drafting paperwork as needed in your case, advising you on the procedures needed to file your paperwork, and giving you legal advice on how to approach issues unique to your case.

This can be a very affordable option for someone who has reached an agreement in principle with their spouse and only needs an attorney to assist in drafting the paperwork in a manner that the court will accept and which will be enforceable later on in the event their spouse fails to follow that agreement.

Why do children raise the cost of a divorce?

There are two main reasons why children can cause a divorce to become significantly more costly.

First, emotions tend to run their highest when children are involved. While property can be sold or split up equally, children are very different, as they should be. Parents are very protective of their children and often believe that they are the ones best qualified to care for them.

Second, the paperwork involved in finalizing a divorce involving children is much more complicated than a divorce without children. Because courts require parents to submit a parenting plan containing the various conditions for custody on weekdays, weekends, holidays and the summer, attorneys are required to draft much longer documents for cases involving children.

Wouldn’t it be cheaper for me to just purchase divorce forms and represent myself in court?

While there are numerous services out there which offer forms which they claim to be compliant with Texas law, consumers should be very cautious about purchasing such forms.  The laws in Texas change frequently and can be very complex, particularly when it comes to issues involving child custody or child support.  Moreover, if your spouse violates a provision in the divorce decree, are you sure that the language in that form you purchased is sufficient to make the decree enforceable?  These are issues which the Houston divorce attorney in our office can walk you through.

If you are absolutely comfortable learning a system entirely different from what you probably already know, and taking time out from other aspects of your life in order to learn that system and complete paperwork, then perhaps you could file your divorce on your own.

Attorneys who practice family law have committed themselves to learning the various rules and laws associated with divorce, and can complete the necessary paperwork relatively quickly. Therefore, family law attorneys can reduce the stress related to your divorce, provide objective advice on how to proceed, and achieve your goals with greater competency and far more quickly than you may be able to on your own.