If you want to file for divorce in Houston, you must be domiciled in the
state of Texas for at least six months and be a resident of Harris County—that
is, the county in which you are filing, for at least 90 days.
In Texas, a divorce is handled as a lawsuit, which means filing a petition
or a pleading for divorce with the court to begin the process. Then the
divorce papers must be served on the spouse, unless service is formally
waived, and then the spouse, or respondent, must file a response sometimes
called an answer, on or before 10:00 am on the first Monday following
20 days after service. Both parties must make detailed disclosures describing
their finances, income, and assets, and these disclosures include and
should be backed up with financial documentation. Our divorce attorneys
can help you gather the appropriate documents and ensure you don't miss anything.
After all documents and financial information are exchanged, and both parties
have enough information, the court will encourage or even order the parties
to mediation to try to resolve their disputes and make agreements about
property and custody.
Mediation is often the best option for both parties to resolve a contested
divorce, but if it's impossible to reach a fair compromise, we may advise
you to take the case to court. If so, your divorce will proceed to trial,
where your divorce attorney will argue and present evidence on your behalf
to seek the results you want.
Uncontested divorce: Divorcing couples sometimes want to have an uncontested divorce, which
is certainly possible if both parties are in agreement about the terms.
If so, the procedure is largely the same in Texas, except that cooperation
and compromise are likely to be more readily achieved and the parties
may be able to even avoid the financial disclosures. Some couples may
choose to follow the
Texas collaborative divorce procedures, although that step is likely not necessary, and could even be more expensive.
Realize, though, that even if you feel that you should be able to have
an uncontested divorce, having a qualified divorce attorney prepare the
papers and shepherd you through the process will protect you from inadvertent
and costly mistakes as well as from any possible underhandedness by your
spouse. It is far better to handle your divorce and custody issues right
the first time, as it is often much more difficult, even heartbreaking,
to fight the uphill battle to correct problems later.