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Houston Texas Divorce FAQs

Marivonne Essex would like to answer all of your questions concerning divorce law in Texas. If you don’t see a question listed below, please contact the Essex Law Firm.

 

 

  1. How much does it cost for a divorce in Texas?
    It ranges from $1,800 for a no kids/no property to upwards of $25,000 or so for a jury-trial custody case. There are lots of variations, so it’s very hard to give an “average.”
  2. How long does it take to get a divorce in Texas?
    Again, lots of variations. In Texas, there is a 60-day statutory waiting period, meaning that from the date the divorce was filed, a divorce cannot be granted even if the parties agree on all issues, until at least the 61st day after the filing date (there is an exception for protective order cases). So for an agreed divorce, after the 60 days is up, it depends upon the court and county and the attorney handling the case. In Harris County, agreed or “uncontested” divorces are done on a first-come, first-served basis beginning around 8:30 a.m. each day, Mon-Fri., assuming all the paperwork has been signed by both parties and both attorneys. In Montgomery County, the courts require a docket setting, which is usually about 2 weeks after the 60 day waiting period. If the case is contested, meaning there is an attorney on each side and the parties have not agreed, the average is about 9-12 months in Harris County. In that county, trials are automatically docketed once the case has been on file for 2-3 months. In Montgomery County, a request can be made for a trial setting, and the average depends on the court’s availability, but the average is no less than 9-12 months.
  3. Do I need a lawyer for a divorce in Texas?
    I love that question. I answer it by saying, “Would you do your own dental work?” If you are SURE (and most people are not) that you do not have any retirement or 401k plans (no matter whose name the plans may be in) and you have no children, you may be able to represent yourself. If you are willing to do lots and lots of research (online research is questionable) and paperwork yourself. If you can find your way through the maze of the particular court system you are in and are able to determine what the specific requirements are for that court. If you are willing to invest the time in appearing in court in at least one attempt to get the divorce finalized (a morning wasted, usually), then come back another day and only to be told there is another reason or another step you must take that you did not know about. And all these “if’s” have to do with having no children or no property. If you have either of those, the laws are complicated. And, in spite of what people think, the internet does not have the answers, because unless you are an expert, you cannot determine whether what you read on the internet is correct and/or applicable to Texas. A property division in a divorce decree is pretty much set in stone; almost impossible to undo once the divorce is granted. So, if you make a mistake and the language doesn’t give you what you thought you should get, you are out of luck. Children’s issues, while not set in stone, are costly to “fix” and you may face a time limit during which no changes can be made. In representing yourself, as the saying goes, you have a fool for a lawyer. It amounts to being penny wise and pound foolish most of the time to try to be your own lawyer. I wish I had a $1 for every time somebody came into my office and asked me to “fix” a divorce decree that was done without a lawyer.
  4. When children are involved, who becomes the custodial parent?
    Lots of factors must be considered, but the most important, barring any alcohol or drug issues, is where the child is presently residing and with whom. This is called determining who is the “primary” parent, and if the child is living with you, it is much easier to meet that burden.
  5. What are the laws about property division?
    Texas is a community property state. That means the divorce court, if the parties cannot agree, divides the community property in a “just and right” manner. Community property is property accumulated during the marriage that a person did not receive as a gift or inherit in some manner. If a person owned property prior to marriage, that’s separate property and the court cannot divide it; it stays with the person who acquired it prior to the marriage. If a person receives a gift or inheritance during the marriage, that’s separate property and the court cannot divide it. A “just and right” manner, while it can take many variations, usually in Montgomery and Harris County means a 50-50 split. Other factors can change this percentage, such as a long-term stay-at-home spouse who hasn’t worked in years and has no job skills; and various other factors. Even then, the percentage doesn’t usually vary widely from 50-50. See our more in depth article about property division in Texas divorce.