(Divorce) I need a divorce. We have minor children.
(Divorce) I need a divorce. We have minor children.
This toolkit tells you about getting a divorce when you and your spouse have children who are younger than 18 (or still in high school) and there are no court orders for custody and support of your children already in place. FORMS ARE INCLUDED.
For more information on the differences between an agreed, default, and contested divorce, read Is My Divorce Uncontested or Contested?
This toolkit includes:
- Instructions & Forms you can use to file a divorce with children
- Use the first set of instructions if your divorce is agreed.
- Use the second set of instructions if you don’t think your spouse will participate in the divorce process.
- Frequently Asked Questions about filing a divorce with children
- Articles on topics related to divorce, child custody, visitation, child support and medical support
- Use our Legal Help Finder tool to search for legal help in your area.
- Check our Legal Clinic Calendar to see if there is an upcoming legal clinic near you.
- Use Ask a Question to chat online with a lawyer or law student.
Note about Same-Sex Divorce: The forms for this toolkit are drafted for an opposite-sex divorce. Although the steps are the same whether you have a same-sex divorce or opposite-sex divorce, the forms are slightly different.
WARNING! The information and forms in this toolkit are not a substitute for the advice and help of a lawyer. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation.
You can file for divorce in Texas if you or your spouse has lived:
- in Texas for at least the last 6 months, and
- in the county where you file for divorce for at least the last 90 days.
See Texas Family Code Section 6.301.
Note for military families: If you are serving in the military or other 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 6 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 accompanied your spouse who is serving in the military or other 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.
See Texas Family Code Section 6.303.
Note for military families with children: Talk to a lawyer if you and your spouse have children together and your children have lived in another state or country for the last 6 months. A Texas court may not have jurisdiction to make orders about your children.
As long as you meet the residency requirements for divorce, you can get divorced in Texas even if your spouse lives in another state.
Note: The court must have personal jurisdiction over your out-of-state spouse to include orders in your divorce that impose a personal obligation on your spouse — such as ordering your spouse to pay a debt or pay child support. The Original Petition for Divorce form includes a list of situations that give the Court personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state spouse. Check any that apply to your case. Talk to a lawyer if none apply or you have questions about personal jurisdiction.
A Texas Court cannot make initial custody and visitation orders about a child unless:
- the child has lived in Texas for at least the last 6 months (or since birth) or
- Texas was the child’s home state and the child has been gone less than 6 months.
See Texas Family Code Section 152.201.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. Talk with a lawyer if this is an issue.
When you file for divorce, you must 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 by completing and filing a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs. Read this short article to learn more: Court Fees & Waivers.
In almost all cases, you must wait at least 60 days before you can finish your divorce.
When counting the 60 days, find the day you filed your Original Petition for Divorce on a calendar, and then count out 60 more days (including weekends and holidays). If the 60th day falls on a weekend or holiday, go to the next business day. Note: When counting the 60 day waiting period, don’t count the day you filed your Original Petition for Divorce. Day 1 is the next day.
There are only two exceptions to the 60-day waiting period.
- If your spouse has been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a crime involving family violence against you or a member of your household, the 60-day waiting period is waived.
- If you have an active protective order or an active magistrate’s order for emergency protection against your spouse because of family violence during your marriage, the 60-day waiting period is waived.
Note: You can always wait longer than 60 days, but your divorce cannot be finished in fewer than 60 days unless one of these exceptions applies.
If you and your spouse do not agree on child support your case is contested. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer if your case is contested.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) may also be able to help. Although the OAG cannot represent either parent, the OAG can ask a judge to make an order for child support, medical support, custody and possession.
Once there is a final court order for custody and support of your children, you can use this toolkit to get a divorce: I need a divorce. We have minor children. A final custody and support order is already in place.
For information about opening a case with the OAG, call 1-800-255-8014 or go to their website at www.oag.state.tx.us/cs.
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 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). They can refer you to help in your community.
For legal help, you can also call:
- Texas Advocacy Project Hope Line at 1-800-374-HOPE (4673)
- Advocates for Victims of Crime at 1-888-343-4414
For situations involving sexual assault, you can also call:
- Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault at 1-800-991-5153
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, please call 911.
Find out more in the Protection from Violence or Abuse section of this website.
You do not have to have a lawyer to file or respond to a divorce case. However, divorce cases can be complicated and your rights as a parent, 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 or your children’s 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 and your spouse have a child with a disability.
- You or your spouse have an ongoing bankruptcy or are planning to file for bankruptcy.
- You are in a same sex-marriage and you and your spouse have a child but there is no adoption or other court order stating that you are both legal parents.
If you need help finding a lawyer, you can: