How Long Does a Divorce Take in Texas? (kids & contested) 

Different states have different waiting periods for how long the divorce process takes. And sometimes you just want to get it over with and get on with your life. So if you’re in the Lone Star State, how long does a divorce take in Texas?

An uncontested divorce in Texas can be finalized in 60-90 days from the time of filing, as there is only a 60-day mandatory waiting period. A contested divorce, especially with large assets and children, often takes between 1-2 years.

The above is just the tip of the iceberg.

In this article, we’ll explore in detail how long it takes to get a divorce if both parties agree and what happens after divorce papers have been served.

We’ll also consider whether it matters who files first and how to speed up your divorce. Then, we’ll look at whether a divorce can be denied and other interesting themes around Texas divorce.

Let’s get into it.

How long does it take to get a divorce if both parties agree in Texas?

On average, if both parties agree, it can take between 60 to 90 days.

The state has a mandatory 60-day waiting period for getting a divorce. The court’s availability is also a factor, so 3 months is not unreasonable, but it could be up to 12 months in some cases.

The quickest it can take is 61 days. 

Assuming the divorce was finalized a day after the waiting period. But that’s not very realistic. This is because the courts often have a lot on their hands.

So, even if you and your partner agree, it’ll probably take you between 60 to 90 days. In our case (my ex-wife and I), it took only 4 months from when the divorce papers were filed to the day the divorce was finalized. Yes, it was uncontested.

It stands to reason that the process is faster when both parties agree. In fact, this is the most vital factor.

According to Texas law, uncontested or collaborative divorce requires both parties to wait for only 60 days after filing for their marriage’s dissolution.

After this mandatory waiting period has passed, they’ll be able to set a date for the final hearing.

In general, the more assets a couple has and the more the number of lives that will be potentially affected by the marriage dissolution, the longer it might take.

But if it’s uncontested, there is little to nothing that would unnecessarily elongate the time after the mandatory waiting period.

What happens after divorce papers are served in Texas?

The spouse that has been served is required to respond, and if they don’t already have an attorney, they would typically retain one at that time. Assuming the spouses do not agree on terms, the lawyers would negotiate back and forth until an agreement is reached.

The contestation could take months to years, then there could be temporary orders, and then the final hearing.

Let’s explore each of these phases in some detail.

60-day waiting period

After divorce papers have been served in the state of Texas, or your spouse signs the service waiver, there’s a waiting period during which the divorce won’t be granted, even if it is uncontested.

It’s after this date has passed that you will be able to set a date for the final hearing.

This is a period when the divorcing couple can decide if they really want a divorce. If they don’t, they can easily change their minds. In other words, it’s a “cooling off” period.

They are also expected to discuss important issues relating to the divorce — such as property division, what happens to minor children, alimony (if relevant), and child support payments.

But in some cases, such as in fault-based divorces, where a partner could be experiencing cruel treatment and is even a victim of domestic violence, the mandatory waiting period may be waived.

Response to The Petition

After the opposing party has been served the divorce petition by a private process server or constable, they have between 20 to 28 days to respond, or they may sign a waiver.

This is a legal document that affirms their right not to be served the divorce paperwork.

This applies when the divorce is uncontested, and there are no outstanding issues to be resolved. The original petition can be served via certified mail, publication, delivery service, or left where it can be found. It depends on what’s allowed in the specific county.

Once it’s been received, it’s expected that within 20-28 days, the respondent will formally accede to the demands, contest it, or request an extension of the time, so that agreement can be reached.

Contesting The Divorce

If a divorce is being contested, that’s to say the parties do not agree. Both will participate in discovery, within which they’re supposed to provide evidence for their claims.

As you expect, this can take months or, in some cases, years!

In a lot of cases, lawyers for both parties may battle things out to get the best for their client and try and reach an agreement before the trial.

At times, if an agreement cannot be reached, a divorce lawyer for either party could keep pushing back the court date to intimidate the other side.

Temporary Orders

Even before the final hearing, the judge may grant temporary orders that will stipulate how community debts are to be settled, child support and how often, who remains in the family home, who the child(children) will spend time with, and spousal support.

Final Divorce Hearing

The final trial is where the final decision is made, and this could take a few days. It’s usually planned out. The final divorce decree is issued a few days after the final hearing. It documents the judge’s decision in granting the divorce. This final decree of divorce states the terms of the divorce. It contains the court’s order on important issues.

Once the divorce has been finalized, the man, who is the one being dumped 75% of the time, is often alone, confused, and unsure of how to move forward.

So what can you do to turn your life around?

Check out a recent article where I shared 19 solid tips that’ll help you become a better version of yourself. I even cover the 1 tip that can not only turn your life around but even get your ex back if that’s what you want.

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Why do you have to wait 60 days for a divorce in Texas?

You have to wait for 60 days because the state of Texas, through the Texas Family Code, requires that you wait for that time period in order to be sure whether you really want a divorce.

It’s a “cooling off” period for the couple to be sure of their decision. If they change their minds, they can withdraw the petition.

It’s rare, but there are cases where the party that has filed the petition may call their attorney to say they’ve reconciled and are no longer interested in going ahead with the divorce.

Divorce can be expensive, harrowing, and detrimental to everyone involved.

The mandatory waiting period helps by preventing people from making rash decisions. As such, it’s compulsory. 60 days is good enough to reflect on whether filing a petition is the right step to take.

But not all marriages are equal.

There are circumstances where the requirement is waived if a partner is prone to domestic violence or has even been convicted of the same in the past.

If there’s been a history of family violence, you may want to consider separation first and a temporary restraining order for your safety.

The other party can file a motion requesting that the mandatory waiting period be waived after providing their spouse at least three days’ notice before the hearing at which the waiver will be considered is held.

Say you got divorced after being married for decades, how do you cope? 

In a recent article I published, I looked at why marriages fail after 30 years and how common it is. But I also shared how you’ll know your 30-year marriage is over.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Does it matter who files for divorce first in Texas?

In general, it doesn’t really matter who files first. But because each marriage is different, there could be a specific situation or circumstances that make it a good idea to be the one that files first.

Filing a petition for divorce is an important decision, so ideally, you want to contact an experienced family law attorney about the next step to take.

The truth is that, like most things in life, there are some pros and cons to filing first, especially if it’s likely going to be a contested divorce.

Let’s check them out.

1. The Filing Spouse Speaks First

The spouse who filed first gets to set the tone of the divorce.

They also have more time to prepare and outline what they would like. Do they need a restraining order? What they’re hoping for in terms of child support, spousal support, and other vital issues.

And if the divorce goes to court, the person who filed first gets to speak first. As you know, first impressions matter. They get to frame the way things would be perceived.

Depending on the specific situation and if they have taken their time to plan their course of action, perhaps by first taking advantage of free consultations with a law firm, the person that files first can have an edge.

2. Divorce Proceedings Can Be Sped Up

The divorce proceedings can be sped up by the spouse who filed first, seeing as they can bring up the issues they want the court to consider.

Of course, the other spouse can also do this, but there’s an advantage in outlining your requests in the initial filing, especially considering the fact that discovery can take a long time.

3. File a Protective Order Right Away

If you have a spouse that’s likely to be uncooperative, dragging their feet, or may resort to harmful actions, it’s better to be the one that files first.

You could get a protective order, which ensures that things stay the way they are until the divorce is finalized. So, there’s no case of someone taking the children away or cleaning out the bank accounts.

What of the disadvantages?

4. The Filing Spouse Pays a Lot More

The spouse that files first pays a lot more.

In Texas, as of the time of writing, the filing fee is about $300 if children are involved. While the spouse who responds pays about $40.

In some cases, the person that filed first may be able to get a reimbursement, but they have to pay the fee first.

How can I speed up my divorce in Texas?

The following are some ways to speed up your divorce.

Organize your estate, share financial information with your spouse, meet with a financial advisor, move forward with pre-trial motions and hearings at the outset of the case, and consider alternatives to dissolution by a court order.

Let’s explore a few in some detail.

1. Organize Your Estate

Having a good grasp of your finances and estate, in general, is one of the ways to speed up your divorce.

This is because it’s one of the most vital pieces of information your divorce attorney would need to craft a good divorce strategy, and it forms the basis on which equitable division of assets (division of property) would be carried out in accordance with the laws of the state.

You’ll need to provide all pertinent financial information and supporting statements such as assets, insurance policies, debts, retirement accounts, and so on.

2. Share Financial Information with your Spouse

The state’s new discovery rules that took effect January 1, 2021, require that both parties seeking divorce submit copies of their financial documents during the initial disclosure phases of the divorce.

It’s ideal to share financial information and supporting documents with your spouse, as this is one of the ways to expedite the process. You want to provide all that’s required by the court as soon as possible and, ideally, have your spouse in the know.

3. Have Deadlines Established Early

To expedite your divorce case, set a pre-trial hearing early on at the outset of the case to make sure that deadlines are put in place. Putting deadlines in place is unsurprisingly one of the best ways to have the process wrapped up a lot earlier than if you were more relaxed about the timeline.

4. Consider Alternatives to Dissolution by Court Order

You could consider arbitration, mediation with a private judge, or engaging a mediation attorney to facilitate the divorce if you want to speed up the divorce process.

This would work if both parties are mature and are being amicable.

It’s ideal for couples who don’t have children or community property or assets and have agreed to the terms of the divorce.

In this case, seeking the help of a mediator is helpful. A mediation attorney with experience with family law cases can help the couple prepare an Irrevocable Settlement Agreement.

If all things go well, the couple still has to abide by the 60-day mandatory waiting period.

Can a divorce be denied in Texas?

Yes, in some circumstances, a divorce can be denied in Texas.

They include: 

  • If certain documents are not presented for a default divorce
  • If the requests exceed what was requested in the original petition
  • If one party refuses to sign the divorce papers
  • And divorce can be denied “for want of prosecution.”

Failure to meet residency requirements can also be grounds for a divorce to be denied.

Let’s check these circumstances in some detail.

Suppose you’re hoping for a default divorce since your spouse failed to respond to the divorce petition. The county court or district court could deny the divorce unless you have proof that your former spouse was actually served the petition.

This is understandable because a default divorce is granted on the basis that your spouse or your spouse’s attorney failed to file an answer to the divorce petition.

Another reason a default judgment may be denied is if the requested order exceeds what you outlined in the original petition. 

It’s only what was requested in the original petition that can be awarded. If you want more, the petition will have to be amended.

In addition to the above, not providing adequate information can lead to a default divorce being denied. 

Suppose you have children and are requesting child support or spousal support, you’ll need to provide documentary evidence to support what you’re claiming.

Ideally, you want to engage a reliable divorce attorney that will intimate you about your legal rights and the legal process around divorce.

Such will offer you legal advice so that you can be proactive about meeting all the requirements.

Do you have to give a reason for divorce in Texas?

No. You don’t have to give a reason to file for divorce in Texas. It is a “no-fault” state. As such, there is no need to prove that the other party did something wrong before you can file for divorce. You can simply file on the basis of “insupportablity”.

“Insupportablity” is the basis for a “no-fault” divorce.

It means there’s “discord or conflict of personalities” that has prevented any “reasonable expectation of reconciliation”. This may not apply to your situation, so there are 6 other reasons for divorce under Texas law.

They include adultery, cruelty, a conviction for a felony, abandonment, living apart, and confinement in a psychiatric hospital.

It’s been a couple of months since you signed the final divorce decree, and you’re wondering, when is the right time to start dating again? 

This is the theme of a recent article I published.

In it, I looked at why there’s no timer on how long to stay and why you should take the time to be single after a breakup. But I also shared how to tell if you’re ready for a new relationship.

Just click the link to read the article on my site.

How long does a divorce take in Texas with a child?

First, a 60-day mandatory waiting period is required.

But if the divorce is uncontested, a few months is reasonable. After all, both parties agree. But if it’s contested, it could take a long time. The specifics of the case are the key factors.

I have children and had a divorce early this year. The process took only 4 months. But my ex and I agreed (at the time), so that made everything go smoothly.

Joint custody of the children is what’s common in Texas. But if one parent is incapable of taking proper care of the children, the parent that’s able may get full custody.

And the court has to have proof that the child or children in question have lived in Texas since birth or for at least 6 months or Texas is the child’s home state and the child has been gone for less than six months.

What if you’re in an unhappy marriage but can’t leave? 

This is what I explored in a recent article. I shared info about how you can leave a marriage when you have nothing and how to know your marriage is over. I shared how to leave a miserable marriage and whether it’s better to stay married or get a divorce.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Conclusion

We explored how long it takes to get a divorce if both parties agree and what happens after divorce papers have been served.

We found out what happens after the divorce petition has been filed and what the mandatory waiting period is for.

We also considered it matters who files first and how to speed up your divorce. Then, we looked at whether a divorce can be denied and if you have to give reasons before you can be divorced.

Lastly, we wrapped things up by considering how long it takes to get divorced if you have children.


Image by Tumisu from Pixabay and Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell

Hi! I'm Jeff Campbell. I am a father and blogger and recently divorced. I love spending time with my 3 daughters and am still learning how to navigate life as a single dad and ex-husband; a life I didn't choose but have accepted.

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