If you are considering filing for divorce or have already filed, you will need to familiarize yourself with the process and how long it will take to finalize your divorce agreement. While there is no sure way to determine how long your divorce could take, understanding the typical steps a divorce requires can help you get a general idea. A divorce timeline can help you understand what to expect during the divorce process as well as how long your divorce may take.
Meet the Residency Requirements for a Divorce in Texas
You cannot file for a divorce in Texas, unless you meet the residency requirement. Either your or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for a continuous 6-month period. In addition, one spouse must have been a resident of the county where the divorce paperwork is filed for at least 90 days.
Divorce Timeline in Texas
Generally, a divorce in Texas requires these steps:
- Petitioner files an Original Petition for Divorce – One spouse will file this document with the court.
- Petitioner serves their spouse and spouse responds – At this point the petitioner can also issue a temporary restraining order if necessary. If no restraining order is issued, the spouse has 20 days (plus the next following Monday) to file a response.
- Spouses work on a settlement with the help of attorneys and/or mediators – The couple will then work out an agreement on all issues in their divorce, including spousal support, child support, child custody, and asset and property division. The spouses can turn to their lawyers and/or mediators for assistance at this point with negotiations. If they can work out all these details themselves, an attorney will then prepare an Agreed Decree of Divorce.
- Trial date is set if no agreement can be reached – If the couple cannot agree on all the issues in their divorce, a trial date will be set. Before trial, spouses are required to try meditation to settle their conflicts.
- Final Decree of Divorce is prepared – If mediation still does not work, the case will go to trial. A judge will resolve the couple’s issues for them and prepare a Final Decree of Divorce.
How Long Does It Take for a Divorce to Finalize?
A divorce cannot be final for at least 60 days after the petition is filed (this is called a “cooling off” period). Once the 60-day period has passed, a divorce agreement may be entered. If both parties have come to an agreement, they could be divorced in as little as 2 months.
A contested divorce takes around 6 months to 1 year (maybe longer) to finalize. This depends on the complexity of the issues at hand and the degree of conflict involved.