Are you contemplating divorce in the Lone Star state? If this is your first time to the divorce rodeo in Texas, it pays to hire a reputable divorce attorney and do a little research to understand the process. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of common misconceptions about divorce in Texas so you can get a better handle on what to expect.
Misconception No. 1: Alimony is a given.
If you’re expecting to live off of a healthy monthly check from your soon-to-be ex, think again. The maximum amount of alimony – known as spousal maintenance in Texas – a judge can order is $5,000 per month or 20 percent of the monied spouse’s monthly gross income, whichever is less. You also won’t qualify for spousal maintenance in Texas if you have the ability to pay for living expenses or do not meet other criteria. While you may be able to negotiate contractual alimony in your divorce settlement, your spouse would have to agree.
We answer several questions about alimony in Texas here.
Misconception No. 2: Once the divorce is filed, you have to go to court.
Texas family courts really want couples to try to work through their differences together and avoid going to court. In fact, with most Texas divorces, the judge will order the parties to undergo mediation first. Collaborative divorce is also an option for Texas couples. Unlike mediation, where an impartial mediator acts as an intermediary and the two parties don’t speak directly, the collaborative route allows couples to work things out across the table from one another with their individual divorce lawyers by their sides.
Misconception No. 3: You can get a quickie divorce.
Not so fast. Texas has a minimum, statutory 60-day waiting period for divorce. At least one of the spouses must also meet certain residency requirements. These include living a minimum of six continuous months in the state of Texas before filing for divorce and a minimum of 90 days in the county where the divorce will be filed.
Misconception No. 4: You need to have a reason – fault grounds – to get a divorce.
While the state of Texas has clearly spelled out fault grounds for divorce (cruelty, adultery, felony conviction and abandonment), a divorce may also be granted based on no-fault grounds, including insupportability (commonly referred to as irreconcilable differences), living apart and confinement to a mental hospital. In fact, the majority of Texas divorces are granted based on no-fault grounds, with insupportability being the most common. Fault grounds do serve a purpose in Texas divorces, because they may affect the outcome of divorce settlements. (See Misconception No. 5 below.)
We take a deeper dive into the seven grounds for divorce in Texas here.
Misconception No. 5: Community property is split 50/50.
While Texas is a community property state, it is NOT an automatic 50/50 community property state. Instead, the law requires a just and right division of property when couples in Texas get divorced. Remember those fault grounds mentioned above? The judge may take fault grounds into consideration when determining how to divide community property fairly. For example, someone who has been unfaithful or abusive may end up with a smaller portion of the community estate, based on his or her actions. The judge may also award a larger portion of the estate to a homemaker with lesser income potential than the husband who brings home a hefty salary. Ultimately, the estate will be divided based on the evidence presented to the judge, and that could end up with community property being split 50/50, 55/45, 60/40 and so on.
Need more information about divorce in Texas?
Contact an experienced divorce attorney in the county where you reside. He or she can address questions and issues pertinent to your specific case.
Alissa Castrois a Dallas family law attorney with experience in a wide variety of legal venues and is committed to obtaining the best results for her clients. She is an active member of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and has donated her services to several charitable causes including the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, Mississippi Volunteer Lawyer Project and Catholic Charities. To learn more about divorce and child custody options in Dallas and Collin Counties, please call (214) 617-1583 to speak confidentially with a knowledgeable and considerate member of the Connatser Family Law team.