For those that live in the state of Texas and are considering a divorce or just want to know more, we have provided the reader with step-by-step information about how to file your very own divorce including additional information you will find useful when divorcing in Texas.
DIVORCE FILING PROCESS
Normally in most states there are stipulations on whether or not you can get a “do it yourself” divorce (otherwise known as pro se). However, in Texas the only requirement that must be met first is that one of the divorcing spouses must have resided in the state of Texas for a minimum of 6 months.
Step 1 – Try to be as civil as you can with your spouse and attempt to resolve as much as you can before involving others.
Step 2 – Obtain the papers you will need in order to file your divorce. Most states (if not every) now have websites where you can download the forms you require. If you do not have internet access then you should be able to acquire forms at the local court clerk’s office or even at some office supply outlets.
The actual forms required will all depend upon whether or not you and your spouse have children and if you have come to a mutual agreement on possessions and the like. Everyone filing for a divorce in Texas must get an information sheet which can be downloaded at the Texas Court website. It will be in a PDF format and instructions will also be available. If you are filing for an Uncontested divorce and have no children at a minor age, the wife is not pregnant and both parties agree on settlement issues then the necessary forms can be obtained at TexasLawHelp.org and guidelines are provided.
For an Uncontested divorce with minor children being involved as well as both parties agreeing upon children custody, visitation rights, debt and property division, go to the divorces with children section at TexasLawHelp.org where instructions are also offered. For a Contested divorce with or without having children at a minor age, there are the same forms from the Pro Se Divorce Handbook provided by the Texas Bar Association.
Step 3 – The forms will now need to be filled out correctly. Use either blue or black ink if using a pen and it may also be possible to type out the necessary information as well. Make certain all essential details applicable to your situation are filled in without any mistakes. A cause and cause number may be left blank so that later a Court Clerk can help complete this portion of the documents for you. When calculating any child support you must make sure there are no errors.
Step 4 – Next, file the divorce forms, let your spouse be aware of it, find out filing costs (pay cash only) and how many copies of information you will need. If your spouse has signed a Waiver of Citation then you will not be forced to send them any divorce petition and they will not even have to attend the settlement if all things are agreed upon.
If both divorcing parties are not asking for a hearing but a spouse is looking for copies of your filings, they may instead file an answer to the divorce petition rather than the Waiver of Citation. A process server may be hired to deliver a divorce petition in person when the opposing spouse does not want the divorce and/or has issues with the settlement. This can also be delivered by certified or registered mail.
Step 5 – Preparing and attending your divorce hearing will come next. The hearing is mainly for divorcing spouses that do not agree on all issues where the court will decide what happens and in whose benefit. In preparing, it may be best to skim through or read the Texas Family Code to get better insight on evidence and factors to better your case. As well, get acquainted with the Texas Rules of Evidence and attend a few divorce hearings to gain more knowledge before gathering and preparing your own evidence.
The filing party must attend the divorce hearing regardless of whether or not it is contested or not and uncontested divorce hearings are quite brief. A hearing could take hours to days if it is contested by both parties so all necessary evidence should be brought and presented.
Step 6 – With regards to the Final Divorce Decree which covers alimony, property division, child custody, visitation rights and child support, you will need to prepare and file this document for a judge to sign only after a Petition for Divorce has been filed for a minimum of 61 days. In addition, the Information on Suit Affecting the B.V.S. or family form will also need to be filed with the clerk along with your Final Divorce Decree.
Logically Separating Property
The most effective way to separate spousal property in a reasonable manner is to share completely accurate information regarding what you actual have ownership of and how much money you owe in debt. The decision to allow a judge to determine the resulting amount of your finances should only be made when you have unsuccessfully attempted doing all else to resolve the matter.
Child Support Rules
The parent without child custody will be beholden to pay child support until the child or children reach 18 years of age or graduate from senior high school – whichever one comes later. If one of the children is disabled then financial support may continue to be required indefinitely. Child disability is distinguished by whether or not a mental or physical impairment forbids the child from ever being self-supportive as well as the disability being present or the cause is known to exist on or before the child’s 18th birthday.
The actual child support will be a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s net income. This number will differ depending on how many children are to be under child support and how many children are currently being supported by this parent – such as from a previous marriage. The net income includes 100% of all income whether it is bonuses, overtime, compensation, interest, dividends, royalties, retirement benefits and much more.
Net income will not include such factors as a return of principal or capital, benefits that are paid in accordance with aid for a family that has dependent children (such as welfare payments) or income from a new spouse. Such items as social security taxes, federal income tax, state income tax and expenses for health insurance will be deducted from the parent’s resources before the child support gets calculated.
Despite what many believe about there being no alimony in Texas, it actually does exist but is very difficult to receive. Support given to those post-divorce is normally called “maintenance” rather than alimony. In order for a spouse to qualify for maintenance (alimony) in Texas, they must lack adequate property including that which is separate at the divorce to supply for that spouse’s minimal practical needs.
Unlike before, newlyweds are now eligible for alimony if they are a victim of abuse only if their divorce claim comes within two years after they have been violently abused. The other way a spouse can attempt to qualify for alimony is if they are mentally or physically unable to provide sufficient income for themselves after a 10 year plus marriage. The court may arrange no more than the lesser of $5,000 each month or 20% of the paying spouse’s monthly average gross income.
Special Warranty Deeds
These deeds will guarantee that the grantor or conveyor owns certain property and has had no title issues during their period of ownership. If offers a buyer or new owner additional protection more so than a quitclaim deed.
Military Divorce and the Former Spouse Protection Act
To file a military divorce in Texas, both spouses must currently be living in the state and the military spouse must also be stationed there for the divorce filing to be legally recognized.
The Former Spouse Protection Act is utilized in order to calculate the financial amount of retirement benefits that will be granted to the non-military spouse should a divorce take place. The couple must be married for a minimum of 10 years while the military spouse was on active duty in order for the non-military spouse to receive any benefits.
The (USFSPA) enables the divorce courts nationwide to grant a service member’s spouse a portion of “disposable retired pay” which will come out to what is available after the required deductions have been made all based on salary and the years of service. This will be arranged either by the spouses or the divorce court.
Under the (USFSPA) the military disability pay is omitted from the classification of disposable retired pay and subsequently the disability pay is not subject to the exact rules of separation in divorce. If a service member waives their retired pay in substitution for disability pay then the former military spouse can very well lose out on hundreds if not thousands of dollars they would normally be getting through the division of disposable retired pay.