Texas Legal Process Overview

In Texas, a divorce begins when someone files an Original Petition for Divorce. A person may file for divorce in Texas if:

  • Both parties live in Texas and have lived in Texas for at least six months; or
  • Texas was the last state in which the parties lived together as a married couple

The divorce petition must be filed in the county in which one or both parties have resided for at least 90 days immediately before the petition is filed. If there are minor children, the divorce must be filed in the county where the children reside, even if both parents do not still reside in that county.

There is a waiting period that begins on the day the divorce petition is filed and ends 60 days later. The divorce cannot be finalized until the 61st day after the day the petition is filed. This is a minimum waiting period – there is no requirement that the divorce be completed on the 61st day, but it cannot be finalized before that day.

One party will be named as the Petitioner in the divorce and the other will be called the Respondent. When the divorce decree is based on an agreement between the husband and wife, it does not matter who is Petitioner and who is Respondent. The Petitioner will sign the divorce petition.

The Respondent will need to make an appearance in the case. This is done by filing an answer. The purpose of the answer is to let the court know that the Respondent is aware that the divorce petition has been filed. The same thing can be accomplished by signing a Waiver of Service of Citation, which is provided as part of the Negotiated Divorce documents.The Negotiated Divorce Waiver of Service of Citation form protects the Respondent’s rights by stating that the Respondent consents for a Court to grant the divorce only if the Respondent has signed the divorce decree.

Texas allows for no-fault divorce. This means that neither party has to prove that the other party did something wrong to be entitled to a divorce. It does not mean that one party – or both parties – did not do something wrong, it just means that the details about why you want a divorce remain private. They do not need to be put into court documents.

Your divorce is concluded with a divorce decree that is signed by a judge. Your divorce decree will contain both a parenting plan (if you have minor children) and a division of your assets and liabilities. One party to the divorce usually has to make a short court appearance to get the divorce decree signed.

Division of some assets – real estate and 401(k) accounts, for example – requires documents in addition to the divorce decree that are specific to those assets.

NEXT: Learn about property division in divorce.

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