Family Law FAQs

Please note that these answers are general in nature, are not intended to address a specific legal question and do not constitute legal advice.

Do I have to prove that my spouse did something wrong in order to get divorced?

No. Texas is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you do not have to prove fault in order to end your marriage. However, certain bad behavior such as adultery or addiction can end up affecting issues in your divorce such as property division or child custody.

How long does it take to get divorced in Texas?

The length of time it will take to complete the divorce process will depend on the specifics of your case and which jurisdiction you are in. However, it takes a minimum of 60 days because Texas law requires that 60 days pass between the date the divorce petition is filed and the date the divorce is finalized.

Does it matter if I file for divorce before my spouse?

Generally speaking, it does not make a difference who files for divorce first. Although, the party who petitions the court first does get the opportunity to present their case first, which some might say leads to a procedural advantage. This is a decision that is best made with the guidance of your attorney.

What will happen to my children? Will I lose custody?

These are the biggest questions on most parents' minds when they are going through divorce. Child custody is determined based on the best interests of the children, which means that while the parents' wishes matter, the children's best interests are given highest priority.

When parents cannot agree on custody and parenting time, the courts turn to custody evaluators, social workers and other child welfare specialists to help weigh in on the matter.

Today, most child custody disputes are settled outside of court and both parents retain an active role in their children's lives. In fact, it is rare for a parent to lose custody unless there is a major mental health issue that could impact the children such as drug or alcohol abuse, or if domestic violence has occurred.

How is property divided during divorce?

Texas is a community property state, which means that all property earned or acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered owned by both spouses and is to be divided in a "just and right manner." This often results in a 50-50 split, though not always.

Separate property, which can include assets acquired before the marriage, or certain gifts or inheritances, is not divided. If you believe that you have separate property that should not be subject to division during your divorce, you will have to prove that it should not be considered community property with "clear and convincing evidence."

Will I end up paying or receiving alimony?

In Texas, alimony or "spousal support" may be awarded to a lesser-earning spouse on a temporary or permanent basis depending on several factors, including the length of the marriage and whether domestic violence played a role in the marriage. It is necessary to talk to an experienced family law attorney to find out if spousal support could apply in your case.

How much will my divorce cost?

The cost of a divorce depends on numerous factors, including the contested issues of the case and how many assets are involved. For example, a case that has few contested issues and few assets will end up costing much less than a divorce with several contested issues and many assets. Meeting with a family law attorney and going over the specifics of your case can give you a better idea of how much your divorce may end up costing.

Are child custody and/or child support orders permanent?

Although family law orders are meant to be final, Texas courts understand that circumstances change, especially when it comes to child custody and support. For example, a parenting time arrangement that worked out well when the children were young may no longer work when the children reach high school. Or, a parent may lose a job or get promoted, making a child support order unfair.

In these cases, the court is often willing to re-evaluate the situation and put a new order in place in what are called post-divorce modifications.

Can I get divorced without a lawyer's help?

Yes, it is possible to get a divorce without a lawyer's help, but this is not something that you want to do except in very rare cases. You only get one chance at reaching a divorce settlement that is fair, and your divorce lawyer can make sure that this happens. Divorce affects most aspects of your life as well as your entire future, which is why you need to make sure it is handled correctly.

The best thing to do is to meet with a trustworthy family law attorney who will give you an honest assessment of your case and whether you need legal representation.