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Know the Laws: Texas

UPDATED March 3, 2011

Below is basic information about divorce in Texas.

back to topWhat are the grounds for divorce in Texas?

There are 7 grounds (reasons) for divorce in Texas.  Only the first ground listed below does not assign fault to either spouse for the break-up of the marriage.  The other 6 grounds do require one spouse to blame the other for the divorce.

1. Insupportability - The marriage can no longer continue because of disagreements or differences that cannot be resolved.

2. Cruelty - When your spouse is guilty of "cruel treatment" towards you to the point that it is no longer bearable to continue living together.

3. Adultery - When your spouse has cheated on you (known as committing adultery).

4. Conviction of a felony - When, during the marriage, your spouse has been convicted of a felony and imprisoned for at least one year (in any state or federal prison) and
has not been pardoned. However, you cannot use this ground if your testimony is what was used in court to convict your spouse.

5. Abandonment - When your spouse left you with the intention of abandoning you and he remained away for at least one year.

6. Living apart - When you and your spouse have lived apart (without cohabitation) for at least three years.

7. Confinement in mental hospital - When, at the time you file for divorce, your spouse has been confined in a mental hospital (state or private) for at least three years and
it appears that his mental disorder is the type that will not get better (or if it does get better, it appears that a relapse is probable.)*

* Tex. Fam. Code §§ 6.001 - 6.007

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back to topWhat are the residency requirements to file for divorce in Texas?

To file for a divorce in Texas, at the time the divorce is filed, either spouse must have been living in Texas for the preceding six-month period and a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90-day period.*  If you are participating in the TX Attorney General’s Address Confidentiality Program, the government will verify that you have met this requirement, without disclosing your address.  Any time spent outside of Texas while serving in the U.S. armed forces (or as an accompanying spouse of someone serving) is still counted as residency in Texas for the purpose of calculating the six-month and 90-day time periods.** 

If you do not live in Texas but your spouse does (and s/he has been living in Texas for at least the past six months), you can file a suit for divorce in the county in which s/he lives.***

* Tex. Fam. Code § 6.301
** Tex. Fam. Code § 6.303
*** Tex. Fam. Code § 6.302

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back to topWhat are the basic steps for filing for divorce?

While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps:

  • First, you must meet the residency requirements of the state.
  • Second, you must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.
  • Third, you must file divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse.
  • Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, then s/he will have the opportunity to file papers telling his/her side. This is called “contesting the divorce.” If s/he contests it, then you will have a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. If your spouse does not disagree with anything, then s/he should sign the papers and send them back to you and/or the court.  If your spouse agrees with everything and signs the papers, this is called an “uncontested divorce.”  Also, if a certain period of time passes and your spouse does not sign the papers or file any papers of his/her own, you may be able to proceed with the divorce as an uncontested divorce anyway. (Speak to a lawyer in your state about how long you have to wait to see if your spouse answers before you can continue with the divorce).
  • Fifth, if there is property or debt that you need divided or if you need financial support from your spouse, then you will have to work that out either in an out-of-court settlement or in a series of court hearings. Custody may also be decided as part of your divorce.

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back to topCan I get support for myself and my children?

Maintenance (spousal support):

In Texas, spousal support is called “maintenance.”  A judge may order maintenance for either spouse if the spouse asking for maintenance will not have enough property (including separate property) when the marriage ends to provide for his/her minimum needs AND either: 

1) The spouse that has to pay maintenance meets ALL of these requirements:

  • s/he was convicted (or received deferred adjudication) for a crime that is an act of family violence;
  • the act of family violence was committed during the marriage against the spouse asking for support (or his/her child); and
  • the crime occurred within two years before the filing for divorce or while the divorce was pending.
OR

2) The spouse that is asking for maintenance meets ONE of these requirements:
  • s/he is not able to earn enough money to provide for his/her minimum needs because s/he has an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
  • s/he has been married for 10 years or more and does not have the ability to earn enough money to provide for his/her minimum needs; or
  • s/he has custody of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that does not allow the spouse to earn enough money to take care of his/her minimum needs.*
Child Support:

The judge may require one or both parents to provide child support until:
  • the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later;
  • the child is emancipated (released from custodial care); or
  • the death of the child.
If the child is disabled, child support payments could last for an indefinite period of time.**

Parents will also be required to pay medical support for their children.***

For information on how Texas calculates child support, you can see Texas Family Law Information.  WomensLaw.org has no relationship with this company and does not endorse its services. We provide this link for your information only.

* Tex. Fam. Code § 8.051
** Tex. Fam. Code § 154.001
*** Tex. Fam. Code § 154.008

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back to topWhere can I find additional information about divorce?

The following links may provide helpful information:

WomensLaw.org has no relationship with these organizations and does not endorse their services. We provide these links for your information only.


Did you find this information helpful?
WomensLaw.org thanks Tracy Grinstead-Everly, JD, Policy Manager at the Texas Council on Family Violence for her help in revising this information.

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