Texas Divorce Law Updated For 2022
Divorces are unfortunate, yet inevitable in many cases. Divorce laws and regulations can catch you off guard if you are not well versed with them. While there’s a strong social and emotional aspect to getting divorced, there’s an even bigger legal aspect.
Today we will look at Texas divorce laws updated for 2022. As we know, the country is going through some serious changes in laws and regulations. It’s crucial to be updated about these changes and be aware of what you are walking into.
Without further ado, let’s find out more about Texas divorce laws for 2022.
Types of divorces
We can broadly classify divorces as contested and uncontested. As the term suggests, divorces are uncontested when there’s no contention regarding it among the two spouses. In other words, both parties agree to the divorce and are willing to go through the legal processes.
Contested divorces are when either spouse does not agree to the divorce. The reasons behind the contention can be multi-dimensional.
Contested divorces typically involve more complexities. They cost more money and require more time. For uncontested divorces, the processes are much faster and easier. You cannot get through a contested divorce without hiring an experienced divorce lawyer.
To file for a divorce in Texas, you must be a resident of the state for at least 90 days and have been staying in Texas for the last 6 months. This applies to either spouse. Even if one of the spouses stays in Texas, the couple can file for a divorce under Texas laws. If either of the partners has been in the U.S. armed forces, they are still eligible for a divorce under the Texas laws (despite not living there physically). However, they must be residents of the county for at least 90 days to file for the divorce.
It’s important to understand the eligibility requirements before filing for divorce. If you do not have sufficient proof of residency in Texas, you may not be allowed to file for a divorce under Texas laws.
Grounds for divorce
Every divorce needs to have one or more solid grounds. Otherwise, the court is not compelled to grant and authorize the divorce.
There are 7 main grounds for divorce under Texas laws. Of these 7, only one ground for divorce does not assign blame to either partner. All the other grounds for divorce holds either or both partners responsible for the divorce.
Here are the 7 grounds for divorce in Texas:
- Conflicts: Marriage that is no longer maintainable due to conflicts or disagreements that cannot be reconciled.
- Cruelty/violence: Cruelty occurs when your spouse treats you cruelly to the point where it is intolerable for you to continue living around each other. It includes both physical and mental abuse.
- Adultery: When your partner has cheated on you with one or multiple people, it is adultery and a valid ground for divorce.
- Criminal conviction: During the marriage, your spouse was charged with a felony, sentenced to a minimum of one year in jail, and was not released on bail. In that case, you can file for divorce from your partner. But if it was your statement that led to your spouse’s conviction in court, you cannot assert this defense.
- Abandonment: If your spouse has not been living with you (with the intention of abandonment) for at least one year, you can use it as a ground for divorce.
- Living apart: When you and your partner have been apart for at least three years (without cohabiting), it is a ground for divorce.
- Hospitalization for mental illness: If your spouse has been at a mental health asylum or hospital for at least three years, it is a valid ground for divorce. However, it also takes into account the nature of the mental illness. It’s only a valid ground when the condition is not expected to get better or has a very high chance of permanent damage and relapsing.
Apart from the first ground of divorce (conflicts and disagreements), all the other grounds put the onus of the divorce on either of the partners. This is important to note because it has far-reaching ramifications.
Alimony, spousal support, and maintenance
The most concerning part of a legal divorce settlement, for many people, is spousal support. There are various ways of defining spousal support. To put it in simple words, if either of the partners does not have the economic means to survive and live a good life, the other partner has to financially support him/her/them.
Getting (or not getting) spousal support depends on several factors. The grounds and rules for getting it are often complicated. If you do not have the right divorce lawyer, you may end up not getting spousal support despite being eligible for it. It’s crucial to work with specialized divorce lawyers for contested divorces.
- If one spouse will not have enough provisions (in the form of property) after the divorce, the other spouse is required to pay support
Under the following cases, one spouse is bound to pay spousal support to the other:
- If one spouse was found guilty of a crime that is an instance of family violence or granted deferred judgment
- Domestic abuse was perpetrated during the relationship against the partner who was requesting assistance
- The crime happened either during the divorce process or within two years of the divorce application
The spouse who is demanding support must also meet one or more of the following criteria:
- They have a disabling physical or mental impairment that prevents them from earning enough money to meet their basic necessities
- They have stayed married for at least ten years but are unable to make enough money to meet their bare necessities
- They have guardianship of any kid from the marriage, regardless of age, who needs intensive care and close monitoring due to a physical or mental impairment. That in turn prevents the spouse from earning enough to cover the child’s basic needs
The judge would typically factor in various things when deciding who pays custodial support and how much. Here are some of the things that the judge bases their decision on:
- If one side is guilty, any benefits the blameless spouse will forfeit as a result of the divorce
- Differences in prospective earnings
- The physical and mental health of each party
- Disparities in age
- The size of the communal estate as a whole
- The size of the separate property of both parties
- Any inheritance that one party may expect to receive
- Gifts exchanged by spouses
- Gifts given by one spouse to a paramour (a spouse’s extramarital partner) or the waste of public resources by one party
- Holdings of real estate in places outside of Texas
- Custody over kids
- Responsibilities for spousal support upon a divorce
Any IRA or 401(k) account that the couple holds jointly will also be split in half after the divorce. However, if one party is in a worse place financially after the divorce, they will have some advantages. Here again, a competent divorce lawyer can make a lot of difference. Texas divorce laws look at all assets as community assets, which is why they are split 50-50 in most cases.
The laws for paying child support involve both parents. In case one of the parents is not able to pay for child support, the other parent has to take up the responsibility.
Under the discretion of the judge, either one or both parents have to pay child support until:
- The child’s 18th birthday or high school graduation, whichever is later
- The kid is now free (released from custodial care)
- The child’s demise
These rules and laws are moot when the child in question has a physical or mental disability. In that case, either or both parents have to keep paying child support to perpetuity. The parents will also have to pay for medical fees in such cases.
A percentage of the noncustodial spouse’s assets may be ordered to be paid by the court. The following are the rules for the amount of child support:
- 20% of net assets for a single child
- 25% of the net assets for two kids
- 30% of the net assets for three kids
- 35% of the net assets for four kids
- 40% of the net assets for five kids
Asset division after a divorce
Dividing assets and properties after divorce are one of the most contested issues. No party wants to give up their assets, while the law requires the financially well-off party to pay support to the other party.
In Texas, asset division after divorce follows the “community property” standard. That means any asset accrued during the marriage is seen as belonging equally to both partners. As a result, it is divided in half after marriage. But as always, there are many caveats.
For instance, some assets are seen as individual assets and not joint assets. Anything that you had purchased before getting married falls into this category. It also includes gifts that one party receives in their individual capacity.
In Texas, the court has discretion over how to divide community property. It might take into account things like each spouse’s income power, age, and fitness, as well as who will be mainly responsible for raising any kids.
When it comes to classifying separate property from the joint property, the judge has the final say. They will decide whether a disputed asset is separate or joint, and make the divisions accordingly.
Asset and property division leaves a lot at the discretion of the judge. That makes it essential to hire someone who has dealt with similar situations in the past. An experienced divorce lawyer knows the loopholes and openings of the legal system. They can use that knowledge to make sure you retain as much of your assets as possible.
Things to keep in mind before filing for a divorce in Texas
Texas divorce laws are not very different from the rest of the country. There are some universal factors about divorce to keep in mind before filing for one. Here’s a brief rundown of everything you need to do to file for a divorce in Texas:
- The residency criteria of the state you intend to file in must be met by either you or your partner
- You need to have a valid reason that is recognized by the law for ending your marriage, which could be a no-fault ground like unsolvable differences
- The proper divorce papers must be filed, and copies should be delivered to your partner. To find out the specifics of how to serve the papers, get in touch with your local court or a divorce lawyer
- A disputed divorce will result if your spouse objects to any information in the divorce papers and files documents outlining their position
- An uncontested divorce occurs when your spouse accepts the divorce petition and accepts all of the terms
If everything goes smoothly, getting a divorce in Texas is not difficult. However, things hardly go smoothly with divorces. Here’s how you can ensure a relatively smoother divorce process in Texas.
How to get a divorce in Texas
The first step to getting a divorce is always to speak to your spouse and make the expectations clear. While it may not go as planned in most cases, skipping this step is a mistake that many people make.
The second thing to do is to get in touch with a divorce attorney. In theory, you do not necessarily need a lawyer for an uncontested divorce. In practice, not having a competent lawyer will make the divorce unfair for you.
When choosing a lawyer for your divorce, go for attorneys who have experience with divorces. Texas divorce laws are specific and have many clauses inexperienced lawyers may not be familiar with. Having an experienced, competent, and specialized divorce lawyer is your best bet.
In the end, it’s also important to look after your mental health. Divorces are emotionally and socially strenuous. If you are not in a good state of mind, going through the entire process would be extremely difficult.