If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, you likely want to get things resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible. But how long does a divorce take in Texas?
The truth is, it depends — on the unique circumstances of your case, whether or not there are children, whether there are disputes concerning the distribution of jointly owned property, and whether there are issues related to child support and alimony. These factors will greatly impact the timeline of your divorce.
What Is the Fastest a Divorce Can Be Finalized?
If you’re looking to exit your marriage in a hurry, you may be able to conclude the proceedings 60 days after you file the petition with the court. The divorce will be finalized after a final agreement has been reached, or there has been a trial to decide the elements that the two parties cannot agree upon.
For things to move quickly, however, your divorce must be uncontested. Essentially, you and your former spouse will need to agree on every issue regarding child custody, property distribution, alimony, and child support. If there are no disputes, the court will look over the agreement, ensure that it is fair to both parties, and then grant your divorce.
What Is the Process of Filing Divorce in Texas?
Filing and Serving Papers
The first step in the process is filing your paperwork with the court. In essence, you are filing a lawsuit against your spouse.
The filing party then serves the other party with notice of the divorce. In some cases, both parties can agree to waive this requirement and proceed to settle the matter themselves. This process usually takes three days.
Alternatively, you can serve the papers the traditional way — by using either the sheriff’s office or a third party service. This process can take up to four weeks or longer to complete, and it is helpful if you provide your attorney with an address and a recent picture of your spouse.
Waiting for an Answer
Once one spouse has filed and served the papers, the other spouse will have a chance to respond. The spouse has 20 days from the date they were served to file a response with the court.
Filing Temporary Orders
After your spouse has filed their response, you will both begin the process of obtaining temporary orders with the court. These include issues related to temporary support, custody, possession of property, payment of bills, and if there was abuse present in the marriage, an order of non-contact.
Temporary orders can also address temporary spousal support, and can also freeze assets that are part of the marital estate but under the control of one or both partys. The orders can be either decided with the help of a mediator or ruled on by the court. If both spouses can come to an agreement, the process moves faster. If the court is required to render a decision due to a dispute, however, the process will take longer.
Negotiating Final Orders
After temporary orders are in place addressing custody, visitation, alimony, and child support, discovery may be conducted, which allows the spouses to obtain information from each other and third parties in order to wisely resolve the case. Thereafter, a final divorce decree can be negotiated. This can either be done through mediation or litigation. If the divorce must be litigated, it will take longer. If both parties can come to a reasonable agreement, the process can be over in less time.
Taking the Case to Trial
While the final trial can take a long time to get there, the actual trial generally lasts a couple of days. The judge or jury will issue the final divorce decree, which will establish custody terms, visitation schedules, and alimony or child support payments that will be in place after your marriage.
The bottom line is that most divorces can be finalized in about a year. But either party can petition the court for a change in a child support order, alimony order, or custody arrangement after the divorce. For those in very acrimonious divorces, it may feel like your divorce proceedings will never end, even after the final decree has been issued.
A Houston Divorce Attorney Can Help Expedite the Divorce Process
How long does a divorce take in Texas? What can you expect during the process and what can you do to speed things up? At The Alsandor Law Firm, we can help you understand your options. We can also help ensure that your divorce proceeds as smoothly as possible. To learn more about how we can help you before, during, and after your divorce, contact us today.