10 Things To Learn From Divorce in Texas
1. Neither of you has to prove any wrongdoing to end your relationship
Texas is a no-fault divorce state, which means neither spouse is considered responsible for the marriage breaking down. The court will allow you to obtain a divorce if your marriage is not working out due to a conflict of personality that prevents you from staying in it.
The state also allows fault-based divorce where you can cite a specific reason such as adultery, cruelty, abandonment, or conviction of a felony.
- Adultery means engaging in sexual relations with someone other than the spouse. This is the relevant fault ground if your spouse cheated on you, regardless of whether it occurred before or after you separated.
- Cruelty is when your spouse’s conduct towards you makes it impossible to continue living together.
- Abandonment means that your spouse left with the intention to abandon you and stayed away for over a year.
- Conviction of a felony is when your spouse was convicted of a felony during your marriage, has been in jail for at least a year, and hasn’t received a pardon.
A fault-based divorce is more contentious, expensive, and lengthy. It affects issues like alimony and distribution of the marital property. The Texas divorce lawyer you’re consulting will recommend the better course of action for your situation and protect your interests.
2. One of you may have to move out
When we divorced, my husband moved out. We had talked about staying until after the divorce was finalized and only for the sake of our teenagers. As we were both in good jobs, we could also afford to rent our own place. The question was, who would be the one to move?
Practically speaking, the spouse that wants to keep the house must stay while the other moves out. As I had had the house before I got married, under the law, I was entitled to it in the event of a divorce.
Our respective attorneys asked us to consider how, as our divorce moved along, our emotions might affect how we act towards each other while living under the same roof. We mutually agreed that we wouldn’t stay together and delay the inevitable.
Deciding living arrangements during a divorce can be less clear-cut for other couples. You may decide to stay together awhile for financial reasons or to provide stability for your kids during this transition. The both of you should weigh the pros and cons of the reasons holding you back or encouraging you to leave, before making a decision.
If you’ve faced abuse at the hands of your spouse, you should move out as quickly as possible and take the kids with you. Juggling a divorce and a toxic spouse can be too much to handle. Get all the help you can from loved ones and close friends during this challenging phase.
3. You’ll need to plan your living costs
Once you move out, your living expenses will increase. Whoever stays in the marital home pays for its upkeep. If they cannot, the court may order the other spouse to pitch in. They will also have to maintain their other home.
If the couple has debts, the spouse that has their name on their debt will be responsible for it. When both spouses are listed, you should work out an arrangement to pay if you’re financially able to. You can request temporary spousal support, designed to help the spouse that earns significantly less than the other or has been out of work for a long time.
Managing bills, debts, and lawyer’s fees can be mentally draining. I found myself struggling to plan my finances even as I worked with my legal counsel on the divorce settlement. It stressed me out and left me feeling more alone especially since my husband took care of our accounts, expenses, and investments. Fortunately, my lawyer recommended ways to get by pretty comfortably. I also reached out to divorced friends for advice and they were more than willing to help, which brings me to my next point.
4. It’s not an isolating process
Divorce grief is real and you’ll want to give yourself space and time to process your feelings. There was a point when I wanted to get away from everyone and cleanse all the bad stuff out of my former life. But I was also afraid it would make me lonelier and sadder. So, I chose to instead, spend more time with family and friends, and when I felt like it, be alone with my own thoughts.
My inner circle gave me strength to move on. Those who’d been through a divorce gave me advice and information that had helped them. They were there for me, without my having to reach out to them. What I learned from my divorce is that those who really care about you will make time for you and leverage their contacts to help you with stuff…anything! Some of my ex-husband’s friends were extremely supportive, and made the process less emotionally taxing for the both of us.
Even though divorce feels isolating, cutting yourself off from people isn’t likely to help you manage your feelings. Your brain is right when it tells you to seek the comfort and support of your friends. Don’t listen to the voice that tells you to shut yourself off from others. There is no shame, guilt, embarrassment, or a loss of social standing from a divorce.
Divorce is uncommon in my family. I’ve been to countless golden anniversary parties and last year was my first time attending as a single woman. I was welcomed with the same affection, and I enjoyed myself in an entirely non-judgmental environment. The bottom line – people love and respect you for the person you are, and care two hoots for your marital status!
5. Finalizing the divorce takes time
In Texas, there is a mandatory waiting period of 60 days after filing a divorce petition before the divorce can be finalized. This waiting period is intended to give the parties an opportunity to reconcile. But if they decide to proceed with the divorce, it allows time for them to resolve any issues related to property division, child custody, and support.
The waiting period starts from the day the divorce petition is filed with the court. Note that the waiting period can be longer if there are complex issues that need to be resolved or if there are delays in the court process. Generally, it takes between six and twelve months to complete.
6. A prove-up divorce speeds up the process
If the divorce is uncontested, you can move on quickly after the mandatory 60-day period. This happens if both parties have reached an agreement or one party didn’t fail to respond to the petition at all, in what’s called a ‘prove up’ divorce. The court hearing for a prove-up is simple, wherein each party presents their testimony before the judge. If both agree on all parts of the divorce, the judge signs the divorce decree and makes the divorce final.
A divorce is inherently complex, with property division, child custody, and spousal support eliciting strong opinions and emotions among separating couples. When you and your spouse cannot agree on these matters, you’ll go through a contested divorce. An unyielding and unreasonable spouse is best handled by an experienced Texas divorce attorney to negotiate, mediate, and if required, litigate effectively.
7. Child custody is a huge pain-point
Child custody during and after the divorce is easily the most painful part of going through separation. When the process is underway, work out a custody arrangement that’s in your child’s best interests.
We decided that the kids would stay with me so they could maintain their daily routine as far as school, friends, and extracurricular classes were concerned. My ex had fewer hours per week with them, including spending all Saturdays a month together, one of the reasons also being his interest in entering the dating pool soon after. Also, as I was busier with work on the weekends, this strategy worked out for all of us.
The arrangement continued post our divorce. I was awarded sole custody and my husband visits the kids on a regular schedule. We’re all happy with it.
My situation was a bit different from many other couples, who want joint custody, or joint conservatorship in legal speak. This is more easily achievable as Texas courts believe it’s best that children spend roughly equal time with each parent. That said, the court will consider several factors in determining custody arrangements. They include the ability of each parent to provide a stable and safe home environment, the children’s relationships with each parent, and the children’s preferences, if they are old enough to express them.
Ultimately, the goal is to make a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the children and allows them to have a healthy and positive relationship with both parents.
8. Don’t force your kids to decide who they want to live with
Children under the age of 18 cannot decide which parent they want to live with. But those 12 or older can express their preference to the court. Ultimately, though, the final decision rests with the court and that’s a good thing.
Asking your kids’ for their preferred living arrangements is unlikely to help your case. Kids are driven by emotion and will want to live with the parent they’re closer to. They may even feel guilty for choosing one parent over another. Spare them the emotional turmoil and abide by the rational decision of the court.
While the court may consider a child’s preference, the weight given to the child’s preference will depend on several factors, including the child’s age, maturity level, and the reasons behind their preference. The court may also consider whether a parent has influenced the child’s preference, and whether the parent has encouraged the child to have a positive relationship with the other parent.
9. Consider when you might want to file a divorce
If you’re the one initiating divorce, you could, like many couples, wait until the start of the new year to help ease your tax burden. If a couple remains married for even a single day of a year, they can still file their taxes as a married couple filing jointly.
Be aware of other practical considerations that may affect the divorce process. If you’re planning to sell a home as part of the divorce settlement, you may want to consider the housing market conditions in your area before deciding on a timeline for the divorce. If you have children, take into account the school year and any important family events or holidays that could be impacted by the divorce.
In general, it is advisable to engage a divorce attorney who can provide guidance on the best course of action based on your individual circumstances. They can help you understand the legal process and the potential timelines involved, as well as advise you on any specific considerations relevant to your case.
10. Think about whether you want to remain friends with your ex
Whether or not to remain friends with your spouse after a divorce is a personal decision. It will depend on your individual circumstances and the dynamics of your relationship.
While some couples are able to maintain a friendly relationship after a divorce, others may find it difficult or even impossible to do so. Factors such as the reasons for the divorce, the length of the marriage, and the level of emotional attachment between the spouses determine whether it is feasible or desirable to remain friends.
There are potential benefits to maintaining a friendly relationship with your ex-spouse, such as being able to co-parent effectively and providing emotional support during times of stress or difficulty. But it is important to set clear boundaries and to be aware of any potential negative consequences of remaining close to your ex-spouse. This includes interfering with their ability to move on or causing conflict with a new partner.
What I learned from my divorce was that it was going to be hard remaining friends with my husband. I focused on establishing a healthy co-parenting relationship that allowed both of us to collaborate harmoniously for the benefit of our kids.
Hang in there
With a strong support system and an experienced divorce lawyer on your side, you can navigate this phase of your life with courage and grace. Think of it as a beginning filled with exciting possibilities and the freedom to make choices that fulfill you.