How Much Is A Divorce In Texas?
Do you wish to file for a divorce in the state of Texas? Are you wondering how much is a divorce in Texas and what steps you need to follow to get a divorce?
The decision to get a divorce is an emotionally charged moment. The complexities of the law can make it doubly difficult for the layperson to understand how to file for a divorce. But, this article can help you if you want to file for a divorce in Texas. If
Here, we discuss the steps you need to follow to file for a divorce in Texas. Then we explore how much is a divorce in Texas and what factors affect the cost of getting a divorce in Texas. Finally we consider a few tips on saving enough money to help you pay for the divorce proceedings.
Types of divorce in Texas
Before we understand how much is a divorce in Texas, let’s look at the different types of divorce in Texas. Every divorce is different. In Texas, there are 4 types or categories of divorce that couples can choose in Texas. These categories include –
An uncontested divorce is the most seamless, least complicated and fastest type of divorce available in Texas. Here, couples will typically have reached a mutually agreed upon decision about how to divide their assets between them. In some cases, the couples may have no assets that need division and an uncontested divorce will be the easiest way to end the relationship.
It is important to consult a qualified divorce attorney during an uncontested divorce, so you make sure you don’t unknowingly waive any of your legal rights.
In a mediated divorce, a neutral third party is asked to mediate the discussion and disagreements between the couple. This third party – normally an attorney – helps the two spouses come to a decision about how various aspects of their lives need to be managed after the divorce.
Many Texan courts mandate mediation for couples filing for divorce to ensure that both parties get equal representation. Going to court is always the last option when mediation does not work, when your spouse may be trying to delay the divorce.
A collaborative divorce proceeding is a more elaborate version of the mediation. Here, both parties will have their respective divorce attorneys and a group of other third party neutral advisors. These advisors can be conflict resolution experts, financial managers, marriage counselors etc. Both parties collaborate to come to a mutually satisfactory decision about how the divorce should be handled. Minutes of the meeting are maintained for each session and may be submitted at the court, if necessary.
A litigated or contested divorce is one where either one or both spouses are unhappy with the mediation and want to contest the terms of the divorce. The individual who wishes to contest, can serve a lawsuit against the other party. The divorce proceeding will then be taken to court and the case will be adjudged.
The cost of the divorce varies based on the type of divorce proceedings you choose. Each type of divorce proceedings will have different stages involved, with each stage adding an additional cost to the process.
Steps to follow when filing for a divorce in Texas
There are six steps that couples need to fulfill when filing for a divorce in Texas. These are –
Identifying the grounds for divorce
In Texas, you can file for divorce only on one of the following grounds –
- Confinement in a mental institution
- Felony Criminal Conviction
Your attorney will be able to advice you which is the most relevant grounds for your specific case.
Filing the divorce petition
Once you know on what grounds to file your divorce on, you can obtain the original petition for divorce form from your attorney. You will need to fill, date and file this form with the Government of Texas. Your attorney will be able to advise you on the form filling specifications.
Sending your spouse the notice for divorce
At this stage, you will need to notify your spouse about having filed for divorce. You can notify them through a waiver or by serving them with the divorce papers through a court appointed official. A publication of the divorce petition in a local newspaper may also be allowed in rare circumstances.
Counterpetition by your spouse
Once your spouse receives your divorce petition, they have the option to either accept it or submit a counter petition. This needs to be done within 20 days of your petition reaching your spouse.
There is a waiting period of 60 days in Texas, which is usually utilized for mediation or collaboration. Only after this waiting period is over, will the divorce be processed.
Final hearing and decree
If mediation or collaboration does not work and the divorce is still contested, you will need to go to court for a hearing. There, your judge will hear the details of your divorce proceedings and pass the final decree. To complete the divorce process, you will need to take the signed decree and file it in the clerk’s office.
Factors that affect the cost of your divorce in Texas
How much is a divorce in Texas, depends on multiple factors. Here we discuss what these factors are.
Divorce filing fees in your county
Every county in Texas charges a slightly different fee for filing divorce petitions. Typically, the fees range from $250 to $350. Petitions that are filed with a citation or a restraining order cost more because these are additional services the authorities perform for you.
You will need to check with the county office or your local attorney to find out how much your filing fees may be. Remember that these are just the initial fees to start the divorce proceedings. These expenses may increase whenever you request for other services either from your attorney or from the court or a third party.
The complexity of your divorce proceedings
We’ve explored the types of divorce offered in Texas and what steps constitute the divorce proceedings. One of the main factors that affects the cost of your divorce, is the number of steps you follow for your divorce proceedings.
Usually, an uncontested divorce is the least expensive since you don’t have to hire a mediator or spend on additional documentation. But, if you choose to embark on mediation or collaboration or even if your case goes to court for a hearing, the costs automatically increase. This is because you will then need to seek the services of third parties such as mental health professionals, financial advisors, real estate appraisers etc.
Hiring legal assistance
Divorce cases can get complicated and there is a risk that you may not be aware of all your rights. Its necessary to hire a qualified divorce attorney so they can help you get the best advice and representation possible to successfully navigate your divorce. But attorneys cost money and depending on what services they offer; their charges will increase too. For example, a single consultation for advice may not be too high. But, if your attorney represents you during a collaborative proceeding or a hearing, the charges will increase too.
Nature of your case and work involved
While talking about legal assistance, we need to also address the nature of the case. Divorce petitions in Texas are divided into Fault and No-Fault cases. Typically, fault cases involve adultery, abandonment and other types of physical/emotional/mental harm that a spouse has committed on the other. All other cases fall under the No-Fault type of proceedings.
Usually, Fault cases are more expensive, since your attorney will need to collect evidence and gather up witnesses and file more documentation to get the evidence admitted at court to prove the fault.
The presence of children in the marriage
If a couple has children, the cost of their divorce proceedings automatically goes up. This is for two reasons. Firstly, processing child custody in a divorce involves a completely new set of procedures – all of which can be expensive. If your spouse and you are unable to reach consensus about child custody, the court will start their procedures to address the issue/ These additional procedures can be expensive.
Secondly, there is the aspect of child support as well. While this isn’t a “fee/charge” related to filing the divorce, it is nevertheless an additional expense that needs to be borne by the individual as a result of the divorce.
Request for alimony or spousal support
Just as with the child support, another expense associated with the divorce is alimony or spousal support. Filing for these and the actual payment of such support can make your divorce costs rake up significantly. If the decision of how much alimony or spousal support and frequency of payments is not addressed, the court will intervene. This will increase your divorce costs as well.
Nature and quantity of marital assets
The greater number of and more expensive marital assets you and your spouse have, the more complicated and drawn-out the division of assets will be. The major hurdle when it comes to marital asset division is Texas law.
Texas is a property state and all assets acquired during the course of your marriage must be divided equally between both spouses during a divorce. Only inheritances, gifts and acquisitions prior to the marriage are considered the sole property of the individual who earned/received them. The same goes for debts, expenses and bankruptcies filed during the marriage – which are considered community debts. They too must be shared equally between spouses even if the debt was never your fault.
The court will need to intervene if you and your spouse do not want your assets and liabilities processed under the community property law. The procedures that this will set in motion will increase your divorce costs too.
How much is a divorce in Texas – an estimation
Taking all of these factors into consideration, it can be estimated that couples from median income households in Texas may spend between $300 and $5,000 for an uncontested divorce. However, the moment other procedures and litigation come into the picture, the couple may spend anywhere between $15,600 and $23,500 for their divorce proceedings. Essentially, the higher the number of disagreements between you and your spouse; the more expensive is your divorce. These costs may be higher for high income families or families with more children
Can you keep the prices down – Tips to reduce your divorce costs
Now that you know how much is a divorce in Texas, let’s talk about how you can bring down these expenses and make your divorce more affordable. Here are a few things you can do to lower your divorce procedure expenses –
File a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs
Maybe you are in a position where you are currently unable to pay your court fees. Plus, you foresee being unable to pay these fees at any point in the future. In such a circumstance, you may be eligible to have these court fees waived. For this, you will need to file the Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs when you file your divorce petition.
Typically, you will be asked to show proof that –
- You receive government aid (such as Medicaid or food stamps).
- Your attorney is working pro bono.
- You are unemployed or earn a very low pay that cannot afford basic essentials (like food and water).
But, this Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs has very stringent requirements that applicants need to fulfill. In that case, the following tips may help you.
Talk to your spouse about saving money in the divorce
No one wants to lose money – let alone lose money in a divorce – especially if it is avoidable. Try to speak to your spouse about choosing a divorce path that has least resistance. The lesser the court is involved in your proceedings, the more you will be able to save.
Get all of your financial records, personal documentation and any evidence of fault ready for use before contacting the attorney
Doing this will ensure your attorney has fewer tasks to perform to get these documents ready. Plus, they won’t need to use the services of third parties to collect your evidence.
Hire an attorney who has flexible payment options
Some Texas lawyers offer accessibility prices. They may even offer pro bono advisory or representation to marginalized communities. If you are unable to afford attorney fees, you can speak to your attorney about payment options.
At The Vendt Law Firm, we can discuss your payment options for any legal advisory or divorce representation you seek from us. We have helped hundreds of clients file for a seamless and stress-free divorce in Texas over the last 35 years. Our experienced attorneys will work with you to get you the best divorce terms possible. We will also help you figure out how much is a divorce in Texas for your case and help reduce your expenses.
Be smart about how you get your appraisals and evaluations done
Many real estate companies, vehicle appraisers etc. offer a zero commitment, complimentary appraisal or evaluation, to prospective customers. When trying to estimate the value of your marital assets, you can find a company that offers such a policy for its asset appraisal. You don’t have to tell them the reason for the appraisal. But its perfectly fine to accept a free evaluation to get an estimate about how much your marital assets may be worth – especially when the third party offers such a service.
Visit a marriage counselor or a therapist before filing for divorce
This tip isn’t designed to make you reconsider your divorce. Rather, it can be a very powerful cost saving measure. Often, couples directly work with a divorce attorney or take their divorce to court, because they don’t give sufficient time to talk through the emotional upheaval that comes with terminating a marriage. By speaking to a marriage counselor or a therapist first, you will be able to work through your emotions and reach a place of calm. You can then take practical decisions about the divorce. That way, you won’t have to unnecessarily spend more money on additional attorney, court or third party services. Instead, you can try to minimize any friction and work towards an uncontested or easily mediated divorce proceeding.
Therapist and marriage counselor fees are less expensive than court fees than the charges for additional divorce-related services. So, you will end up saving more money than by directly visiting an attorney or the court.