Is it true everything’s bigger in Texas? The second-largest state in the U.S. is home to a 500-pound drum, a pair of 35-foot-tall boots, a 4,500-pound Dalmation-themed fire hydrant, and, of course, the State Fair’s 52-foot-tall cowboy Big Tex. Unfortunately, there’s another thing that can be big in Texas: the cost of divorce.
According to USA Today, as of January 2020, Texas ranked fifth highest in the U.S. for the cost of divorce, coming in at an average of $15,600 for couples without children and $23,500 for couples with children. Facing the possibility of divorce can be overwhelming — both emotionally and financially. But having the right knowledge and support can ease the burden and help you move through the process, understand your rights, and protect your future. Read on to learn about how to get a divorce in Texas.
Grounds for Divorce
In Texas, you must allege grounds for your divorce, such as the following:
- Severe mental disability.
- Imprisonment for over one year.
- Cruel treatment.
Insupportability is the most common grounds for divorce in Texas, and it means that the marriage is no longer supportable or you’re no longer willing to be supportive of it. If you have grounds for divorce and you want to move forward, you may be ready to file a Petition for Divorce.
Petition for Divorce
The first step to start the divorce process in Texas is filing a Petition for Divorce. Next, you must give notice by delivering the Petition for Divorce to your spouse. Then, you wait.
Filing a Petition for Divorce starts but doesn’t finish the process because, in Texas, you must wait for a “cooling-off period” of at least 61 days after filing before the court can finalize a divorce. Of course, there’s more to do during this time, including making temporary arrangements, determining the division of assets, and negotiating the final terms of the divorce.
During the waiting period and while your case is pending, you may also seek a hearing requesting temporary orders. These dictate the “ground rules” during this time. This may include where you each will live, the possession of vehicles, the responsibility for expenses, and child custody.
Terms of Divorce
Below are some of the key terms to be addressed during the divorce process:
Assets and Debts
When you get divorced, you must divide your assets with your former spouse. Here in Texas, each of you owns your community property 50/50, including but not limited to:
- Real estate.
- Bank accounts.
- Retirement accounts.
- Business ownership.
- Personal possessions.
- Family keepsakes.
Dividing all your assets — and any debts — somewhat evenly can be a challenge. An experienced family law attorney can work with you to ensure you understand your rights and advocate for you in these negotiations.
Judges consider multiple factors when deciding whether to grant spousal support. The factors may include the length of the marriage, as well as the requesting spouse’s financial resources, age, health, educational background, and job skills.
Whether you’re seeking spousal support or your partner is asking you to pay, it’s wise to seek expert guidance to ensure you reach a fair agreement.
Child Custody and Support
From the determination of custody to the calculation of child support to provide for costs associated with child care, health, and educational needs, child custody and support can be integral factors in the divorce process, with significant implications for the family’s personal and financial future.
How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Texas?
In addition to the potentially significant financial impact of the terms of divorce described above, below are some of the other costs of a divorce in Texas:
Filing Fees and Court Costs
The filing fees for a divorce in Texas typically range from $250 to $350, depending on the county. There may also be fees for copying, processing, or serving. These costs can escalate if you and your spouse are unable to agree on the terms of your divorce and need to go to court.
According to Forbes, it’s also important to consider the soft costs of divorce, which refer to typical expenses that are separate from the terms of divorce and the legal process, like:
- Moving and preparing a new home.
- Phone plans.
- Transportation, such as a new vehicle.
- Insurance adjustments.
- Replacing household items your spouse kept.
- Any increased costs that may have been shared during marriage.
Having an experienced attorney on your side ensures that you receive the guidance you need so you don’t overlook these potential costs.
It might seem tempting to try to minimize costs by attempting to handle a divorce on your own, but that could be a big mistake that you’ll sooner or later regret.
According to Forbes, “In the long term, representing yourself saves money only in the simplest of divorce cases.” You may be able to conclude your case quickly enough, but you’ll likely end up with less spousal and child support and less property than you would if an experienced family law attorney was there to help you.
Forbes also noted that “Research shows overall success with the divorce court system is harder to achieve for pro se litigants.” These are individuals who represent themselves in court without the help of an attorney. By paying a lawyer to represent you rather than taking on that job yourself, you can streamline the divorce process, protect your rights, and ask for guidance for all crucial decisions. “The long-term financial implications of any mistakes or missed opportunities can easily surpass the initial cost of hiring a lawyer.”
The attorneys at Balekian Hayes, PLLC in Dallas, Texas, are certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We understand the personal, emotional, and financial challenges involved in a divorce and can help you manage the process, take the right actions for your situation, and achieve the strongest outcome for you and your future. If you’re considering moving forward, contact us to talk about the next steps.