Steps to Take When Filing for Divorce in Dallas
Getting a divorce can be a difficult and emotionally draining process. However, taking the right steps can help make the proceedings go more smoothly.
1. Consider Alternatives to Divorce
Before filing for divorce, first take time to carefully consider if it is truly the best option for you and your family. Marriage counseling or a separation period could potentially help reconcile certain issues. Divorce should be a last resort after attempting to resolve problems within the marriage.
2. Choose a Qualified Dallas Divorce Attorney
Hiring an experienced Dallas divorce lawyer is crucial to protect your rights and get the best possible settlement. When choosing an attorney, opt for one that is knowledgeable in family law and has successfully handled many divorce cases similar to yours. Female divorce lawyers are often sensitive to the unique needs of women.
3. Gather Important Documents
To prepare your divorce filing, you will need to gather tax returns, financial statements, bank account info, debts owed, property records, prenuptial agreements, and any other relevant documentation. This provides the evidence needed to get a fair divorce settlement.
4. Calculate Child Support Amounts
If you have children with your spouse, you will need to determine potential child support amounts. The court uses factors like income levels and custody arrangements to decide support amounts. Ask your divorce attorney to estimate the amount you can expect.
5. Create a Property Division List
Make a comprehensive list of all property acquired during the marriage. This includes real estate, vehicles, investments, retirement accounts, collectibles, jewelry, etc. Texas is a community property state, so most assets will be divided equally.
6. Change Important Documents
To protect your interests after separating from your spouse, change the beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance policies and update your will. Close or divide joint bank accounts and credit cards as well.
7. Establish Separate Living Arrangements
If possible, establish a separate residence before filing for divorce to make it clear you intend to end the marriage. Renting an apartment maintains independence and makes legal proceedings go more smoothly.
8. Talk to Your Children
If you have kids, talk to them about the upcoming divorce in an age-appropriate way. Reassure them both parents still love them and will maintain involvement in their lives after the divorce.
9. File the Divorce Paperwork
The Texas divorce process formally begins by filing a Original Petition for Divorce with the court in the county where you or your spouse reside. This petition starts the proceedings.
10. Serve Your Spouse
Your spouse must be properly served with notice of the divorce and provided copies of all filed paperwork. Usually a process server or constable handles formal service of the petition.
11. Attend Preliminary Court Hearings
Some initial standard hearings will be scheduled to establish temporary orders regarding child custody, support payments, property use and other urgent issues as the case proceeds.
12. Finalize the Divorce Decree
The final step is obtaining the signed court order that declares you legally divorced. This decree finalizes all the terms such as child custody, support, and property division.
Divorce Process FAQs
What are the residency requirements to file for divorce in Texas?
Either you or your spouse must have lived in Texas for at least six months before filing and lived in the county where you file for at least 90 days.
1. Does Texas have mandatory separation periods before divorce?
No, Texas has no mandatory separation period before filing for divorce unlike some other states. You can file immediately upon separating.
2. Can I get alimony or spousal support in Texas?
Texas divorce law provides very limited spousal support. It is only granted in some cases including when there is family violence. Texas does not allow permanent alimony awards.
3. How long does a divorce take in Dallas?
An uncontested, amicable no-fault divorce may take 3-4 months. A highly contested divorce with child custody disputes can take 12 months or longer to finalize.
4. What happens to property in a Texas divorce?
Texas is a community property state. Most property acquired during marriage is considered jointly owned and divided equitably in divorce. Separate property is not divided.