July 18, 2019

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Divorce Law in Texas

Austin Divorce Law Firms

If you are considering or facing divorce, it is very important for you to understand that divorce laws vary greatly from state-to-state and from one situation to another. You cannot rely on what you have been told by friends and family or even what you have experienced in another state. Divorce law in Texas is unique, and can affect you for the rest of your life.

Grounds for Divorce in Texas

Texas will grant no-fault divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Other grounds for divorce in Texas are:

  • Cruelty
  • Adultery
  • Conviction of felony
  • Abandonment for at least one year
  • Living apart without cohabitation for at least three years
  • Confinement in a mental hospital for at least three years

Property Division in Texas Divorce

In Texas divorce, all property owned by the spouses is considered community property, except for property acquired separately before the marriage, and property that was inherited or received as a gift. Debts are considered property and are included in the property division process.

Community property is not always divided equally between the spouses, in Texas. A judge, not a jury, decides distribution of property in Texas divorce.

Maintenance (Alimony)

Under Texas law, alimony or spousal support is referred to as maintenance. Although maintenance is not a standard part of Texas divorce, it is ordered under certain circumstances.

Child Custody and Visitation

Although many people still assume that the mother gets preference on child custody, Texas does not grant child custody based on gender. The court grants custody based on the “best interest of the child” which is determined by a combination of many factors, including the child’s wishes.

Texas has a specific visitation schedule, often referred to as “standard visitation” which is automatically applied unless a different schedule is requested and determine to be in the best interest of the child.

Child Support

In Texas, child support is usually calculated based on the income of the spouse who is ordered to pay. The paying parent is ordered to pay a certain percentage of their net income, and that percentage depends on the number of children the payments go to support.

For an unemployed parent, the support amount may be calculated based on minimum wage at 40 hours a week.

Common Law Marriage

Texas recognizes common law marriage. It must pass a three point test:

  • Both parties agreed to be married
  • You lived together as husband and wife in the state of Texas
  • You “held yourself out” to the world as married

Common law marriage can be dissolved with formal divorce proceedings, but that is not always necessary. If you separate, after two years have passed, neither party can bring an action to prove that you were married.