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(Divorce) I need a divorce. We have minor children. A final custody and support order is already in place.

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(Divorce) I need a divorce. We have minor children. A final custody and support order is already in place.

This toolkit tells you about getting a divorce when there is already a final court order for custody and support of your children (such as an Attorney General child support order) and you do not want to change that order. FORMS ARE INCLUDED.

This toolkit includes:

  • Instructions & Forms you can use to file a divorce when there is already a final court order for custody and support of your children and you do not want to change that order.
    • 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 for divorce with children.
  • Articles on topics related to divorce, child custody, visitation, child support and medical support.

Do NOT use this toolkit if:

  • the existing order does not include all the children you and your spouse have together, or
  • the existing order is a temporary order, or
  • the existing order is a family violence protective order, or
  • you want to change the existing order.

If one of these situations applies, use Ask a Question for help determining your next step.

Need Help?

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. Please check back for forms to use for a same-sex divorce when there is already a final court order for custody and support of your children and you do not want to change that order.

WARNING! The information and forms in this toolkit are not legal advice and are not a substitute for the help of a lawyer. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation.

Instructions & Forms
Frequently Asked Questions
What divorce forms should I use if there is already a court order about our children (such as an attorney general child support order)?

If the existing court order (1) is a final custody and support order (such as an attorney general child support order) and (2) it includes all the children you and your spouse have together and (3) you do not want to change the order, you can use the divorce forms in this toolkit: I need a divorce. We have minor children. A final custody and support order is already in place. Note: If the existing order is not a Texas order, talk with a lawyer before using these forms.

Do not use the TexasLawHelp.org divorce forms if the existing court order (1) is a temporary order or (2) does not include all the children you and your spouse have together or (3) you want to change the order. If one of these situations applies, use Ask a Question for help determining your next step.

Note: If the existing court order is a family violence protective order, you can use the divorce forms in this toolkit: I need a divorce. We have minor children. However, it’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer first. If you were the victim of family violence, you may qualify for free legal help.

Where can I get a copy of the existing order for custody and support of our children?

You will need a file-stamped copy of the existing order for custody and support of your children.

If you already have a copy, make sure it includes the judge’s signature.

If you need a copy, get it from the district clerk’s office in the county where the order was made.

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 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.

What if my spouse doesn’t live in Texas?

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.

What if my spouse already filed for divorce?

Get information about being a respondent in a divorce here: My spouse filed for divorce.

How much does it cost to file for divorce?

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.

Should I file for divorce in the county where the court order about our children was made?

Not necessarily. In deciding where to file for divorce, you must follow these rules:       

  • You can file for divorce in the county where you live as long as:
    • you have lived in that county for at least the last 90 days and
    • you have lived in Texas for at least the last 6 months.
  • Or, you can file for divorce in the county where your spouse lives as long as:
    • your spouse has lived in that county for at least the last 90 days and
    • your spouse has lived in Texas for at least the last 6 months.

If you must file for divorce in a different county, you have the option of leaving the custody order in the original county or transferring it to the county where you file your divorce.

If you file for divorce in the same county, you should file your divorce using the same cause number and court number that was used for the custody order.

IMPORTANT: Talk to a lawyer if the case involving your children is still active.

How long will my divorce take?

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). They can refer you to help in your community.

For legal help, you can also call:

For situations involving sexual assault, you can also call:

If you are an immigrant, you can also call:

In an emergency, please 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 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: