Filing for divorce can be a difficult and complex process. Here, you will learn answers to some questions about Texas divorces where the spouses have no children together who are under 18.
What gets decided in a divorce?
Ends your marriage,
Divides your property and debts, and
Changes a spouse’s name back to a name used before if requested by that spouse.
Can I file for divorce in Texas?
You can file for divorce in Texas if you or your spouse has lived:
- In Texas for at least the last six months, and
- In the county where you file for divorce for at least the previous 90 days.
Can I file in Texas if I am serving in the military outside of Texas or if my spouse is?
Note for military families: If you are serving in the military or another government service outside of Texas, you may still file for divorce in Texas if:
- Texas has been the home state of either you or your spouse for at least six months and
- the county where you plan to file the divorce has been the home county of either spouse for at least 90 days.
The same rule applies if you accompany the serving spouse in the military or another government service outside of Texas. If Texas is your home state, time spent outside of Texas with your military spouse counts as time spent in Texas.
What paperwork do I need to file for divorce?
The paperwork for your divorce includes the following:
An Original Petition for Divorce: The Original Petition for Divorce is the paperwork that starts your divorce.
Civil Case Information Sheet: This coversheet goes along with your petition. Depending on where you file your divorce, you may or may not need this. You may not need it if you are e-filing.
What if my spouse already filed for divorce?
How much does it cost to file for divorce?
When you file for divorce, you usually pay a “filing fee.” If you need to have your spouse served, you must also pay an “issuance fee” and a “service fee.” These fees vary by county. Contact the district clerk’s office in the county where you plan to file for divorce to learn the fees.
If you don’t have enough money to pay the fees, you can ask a judge to waive the fees. You do this by completing and filing a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs. Learn more by reading Court Fees and Fee Waivers.
How long will my divorce take?
In almost all cases, you must wait at least 60 days before you can finish your divorce.
There are only two exceptions to the 60-day waiting period. Both exceptions involve family violence. The 60-day waiting period is waived:
If your spouse has been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for family violence against you or a member of your household.
If you have an active protective or magistrate's order against your spouse because of family violence during the marriage.
You can wait longer than 60 days to finish your divorce. However, your divorce cannot be finished in fewer than 60 days unless one of these family violence exceptions applies. Use the guide I want to know how to move a family law case through the system to learn about all the steps involved in a divorce case and what can affect the amount of time your divorce will take.
To count 60 days, first, find the day you filed your Original Petition for Divorce on a calendar. Then, starting with the next day, count 60 days (including weekends and holidays). For example, if you file your petition on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, the first day you count is Wednesday, January 4, 2023. Sixty days is Saturday, March 4, 2023. If the 60th day falls on a weekend or holiday, go to the next business day. With this example, you could finish your divorce on Monday, March 6, 2023.
What if I'm afraid of my spouse?
Divorce can be a dangerous time. If you are concerned about your safety or the safety of your children, call the National Domestic Violence 24-Hour Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233). They can refer you to help in your community.
For legal help, you can also call:
- Crime Victims, 844-303-SAFE (7233)
- Texas Advocacy Project, 800-374-HOPE (4673),
- Family Helpline - Texas Legal Services Center, 844)-888-6565 (child safety-related questions).
For situations involving sexual assault, you can also call Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault, 844-303-SAFE (7233), option 1.
If you are an immigrant, you can also call Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) (512) 994-2199.
In an emergency, call 911.
Find out more in the Protection from Violence or Abuse section of this website.
Do I need a lawyer to help me with my divorce?
You do not have to have a lawyer to file or respond to a divorce case. However, divorce cases can be complicated. Your right to your property and your money may be at risk.
It’s a good idea to talk with a family law lawyer about your particular situation. Family law lawyers specialize in cases involving families, like divorce. A family law lawyer can explain your rights and options.
It’s really important to talk with a family law lawyer if any of the following are true.
You are afraid for your safety.
Your case is contested.
Your spouse has a lawyer.
You or your spouse have a house, retirement, business, other valuable property, or a lot of debt.
You need spousal maintenance (alimony).
You or your spouse have an ongoing bankruptcy or are planning to file for bankruptcy.
If you need help finding a lawyer, you can:
Use our Legal Help Directory to search for a lawyer referral service, legal aid office, or self-help center in your area.
Check out Legal Events and Clinics for free legal clinics in your area.
Use Ask a Question to chat online with a lawyer or law student.
Note: A lawyer can only represent one side in a divorce. Your spouse’s lawyer cannot give you legal advice. You cannot rely on your spouse’s lawyer to protect your interests.
What if I can’t afford a lawyer?
If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, you may ask the judge to order your spouse to pay for a lawyer to represent you. This is called asking for “interim attorney’s fees.” Learn more in Attorneys' Fees in Family Law Cases.
A judge may or may not grant your request for interim attorney’s fees. A judge is more likely to grant your request for interim attorney’s fees if:
your spouse has a lot more money than you do, and
your spouse has a lawyer, and
the issues in your divorce are complicated.
You can ask for interim attorney’s fees as part of a Motion for Temporary Orders. Learn more in Temporary Orders and Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs).
It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer in your county about local practice regarding interim attorney’s fees.
It is also often less expensive to hire a lawyer for a limited purpose. You can hire a family law lawyer to give you legal advice, look over your forms, draft a document, or help you prepare for a hearing. This is called limited scope representation.
What if my spouse doesn’t want a divorce?
Your spouse cannot stop you from getting a divorce. Texas is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that a divorce can be granted without either spouse being at fault. As long as one spouse believes that the relationship cannot be fixed, the judge will grant the divorce.
Do my spouse and I have to be separated to get a divorce?
No. You don’t have to be separated to get a divorce.
Can I get a legal separation instead of a divorce?
No. There is no legal separation in Texas. Learn more in Alternatives to Legal Separation in Texas.
You don’t have to be separated to get a divorce.
Can I get an annulment or an order declaring my marriage to be void?
Most people do not qualify for an annulment or order declaring their marriage void. Learn more in I want to annul or void my marriage.
What if I previously filed for divorce in another state or county?
Before you can file a new divorce case, all prior divorce cases must be dismissed. You must tell the judge about all other court cases between you and your spouse. If a prior case is still active, the court might not have jurisdiction in the new case. Talk to a lawyer if you have a prior case that might be active.
What if my spouse or I have (or had) a protective order?
You must attach a copy of any protective order involving you or your spouse to your Original Petition for Divorce.
What if I need orders right away?
If you need orders right away, you may ask a judge to make a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or temporary orders. A temporary restraining order lasts until you can have a temporary orders hearing. Temporary orders typically last until the divorce is finished. Learn more in Temporary Orders and Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs).
Note: A family violence protective order is different from a temporary restraining order. Call the National Domestic Violence 24-Hour Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) to find out where to turn if you need a family violence protective order.
Do I have to tell my spouse that I’m filing for divorce?
Yes. Your spouse has the right to know if you file for divorce. The instructions included in this guide explain how to give your spouse proper legal notice of the divorce.
What if I’m pregnant or my spouse is pregnant?
If you or your spouse is pregnant, you cannot finish your divorce until after the child is born. Learn more in Divorce when a Spouse is Pregnant.
Can my spouse also file for divorce?
Yes. If you start the divorce by filing an Original Petition for Divorce, your spouse can file their own request for a divorce by filing a Counter-Petition for Divorce.
What if the wife had a child with another man while married to the husband?
If the wife had a child with another man while married to the husband, paternity of the child must be established before you can finish your divorce. This is true even if you have been separated for a long time. Read Divorce when the Husband is Not the Father to learn more.
Can my spouse and I work out the terms of our divorce?
Yes. The judge will usually approve an agreed Final Decree of Divorce, as long as you can show that the proposed orders about property and debt are fair to both you and your spouse.
How will our property and debts be divided?
Texas law says that community property and debt should be divided in a way that is “just and right.” This doesn’t always mean 50–50. Separate property is not divided. Read the article Dividing Your Property & Debt in a Divorce to learn more.
How does a divorce affect debt?
Your divorce does not affect a creditor’s right to collect a debt. So, if your Final Decree of Divorce orders your spouse to pay a debt that is in both of your names (such as a mortgage or car loan) but your spouse doesn’t pay it, the creditor can still seek payment from you. Ask a lawyer how to protect yourself in this situation.
Can a retirement account be divided in a divorce?
Yes. Retirement funds (such as 401k, pension, profit sharing, stock option plans and IRAs) earned by either spouse during the marriage are usually considered to be community property that can be divided by the judge. This is true even if you or your spouse has not yet retired.
If you want the judge to divide retirement funds (other than an IRA), you will need to have the judge sign an additional form, usually called a “Qualified Domestic Relations Order” (QDRO), to make the division effective. You should have the QDRO prepared before you go to court, so the judge can sign it when you finish your divorce. TexasLawHelp.org does not provide QDRO forms. You may be able to get a sample QDRO form from the employer or retirement fund administrator. If not, you should hire a lawyer to draft the QDRO form. If you use the employer or retirement fund administrator’s QDRO form, you should still have a lawyer review it to make sure you are not giving up important benefits. Read Dividing Retirement Benefits Upon Divorce for more information.
Note: If you and your spouse plan to keep your own retirement funds or do not have retirement funds, you do not need a QDRO.
What is the difference between temporary spousal support, contractual alimony and spousal maintenance?
Temporary spousal support: While the divorce is pending, the judge may order one spouse to make temporary payments for the support of the other spouse. A judge can order temporary spousal support if the judge decides it is necessary and fair. You can ask for temporary spousal support by filing a Motion for Temporary Orders and setting a hearing. Temporary spousal support doesn’t have the same requirements as contractual alimony and spousal maintenance. Read the law at Texas Family Code 6.502.
Contractual alimony: Contractual alimony is money one spouse is ordered to pay the other spouse after the divorce, based on the agreement of the spouses. The agreement to pay contractual alimony should be included in the Final Decree of Divorce. The spouse who receives contractual alimony must usually claim it as income for tax purposes. The spouse who pays contractual alimony can usually deduct it from his or her income for tax purposes.
Spousal maintenance: Spousal maintenance can be ordered by the judge even if the parties do not agree. Spousal maintenance can be hard to get. The judge can only order spousal maintenance if the spouse asking for it will not have enough property after the divorce to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs and:
- The other spouse has been convicted or received deferred adjudication for a family violence offense against the other spouse or the other spouse’s child within two years of the filing of the divorce or while the divorce is pending. or
- The spouse asking for spousal maintenance is unable to earn enough money to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability. or
- The marriage has lasted for at least 10 years and the spouse asking for spousal maintenance lacks sufficient property or income to provide for his or her reasonable needs. or
- The spouse asking for spousal maintenance is unable to earn enough money to meet his or her minimum reasonable needs because the spouse is the primary caretaker of a disabled child of the marriage. The disabled child may be an adult.
Read the law in Texas Family Code, Chapter 8.
Like contractual alimony, the spouse who receives spousal maintenance must usually claim it as income for tax purposes. The spouse who pays spousal maintenance can usually deduct it from his or her income for tax purposes.
Warning! The TexasLawHelp.org divorce forms do not include temporary spousal support, contractual alimony, or spousal maintenance. Talk to a lawyer if you want temporary spousal support, contractual alimony, or spousal maintenance.
Note for immigrant spouses: If a spouse is a sponsored immigrant, he or she could enforce the Affidavit of Support executed by the other spouse and ask the judge to order the other spouse to provide support until the immigrant spouse becomes a U.S. citizen or until he or she has earned 40 credits of work history. Talk to a lawyer if you think you qualify.
Will my spouse have to continue providing health insurance for me after our divorce?
The TexasLawHelp.org divorce forms do not include continued health insurance for a spouse after divorce. Talk with a lawyer right away if you need continued health insurance coverage from your spouse. If the insurance is cut off, you may not be able to get it back.
Will I need to go to court?
It depends. If your divorce is uncontested, you may need to go to court to finalize or "prove up" your divorce. Your divorce is uncontested if it can be finished by agreement or default.
Your divorce can be finished by agreement if you and your spouse:
agree about all the issues, and
are both willing to sign the divorce forms.
Your divorce can be finished by default (without your spouse) if your spouse is served and your spouse does not file an answer or otherwise appear in court.
Contact the clerk's office where you filed to ask if you need to appear in court to finish your divorce.
If your divorce is contested, you will need to set and prepare for a contested hearing. Your divorce is contested if your spouse files an answer or waiver of service and will not sign the Final Decree of Divorce. To finish a contested divorce, you must set a final hearing for your case. You must give your spouse at least 45 days' notice of the hearing. It's important to talk with a lawyer if your case is contested.
Learn more in How to Set a Contested Final Hearing (Family Law).
Court How-Tos (Civil Procedure)
This article explains community property under Texas law.
Frequently asked questions about filing a divorce without children.
This article tells you about getting divorced when you and your spouse own (or are purchasing) a house or land.
This article explains retirement benefits and how they can be divided in a divorce.
This article discusses the steps to set a contested final hearing in a family law case.
This article discusses setting an uncontested final hearing in a family law case in Texas.