When you made the vow of “til death do us part,” you probably believed it would be forever. We all hope marriage lasts, but marriage can end for many reasons. When it does come time to divorce, you need a skilled divorce attorney on your side. 

Divorce can be an emotional and stressful journey for all parties involved. The legal process is complex and difficult to navigate, especially if minor children are involved. An experienced divorce attorney will help you through this challenging process, advocate for your best interests, and help you reach a favorable settlement. 

The Stout Law Firm, PLLC, is a results-oriented firm practicing only family law. Our attorneys have practiced family law for decades and have assisted hundreds of clients in Houston, Galveston, and the surrounding areas. Let our family law attorneys help you through your divorce. We can assess your case, explain your legal options, and fight to protect your parental and financial rights.

Residency Requirements

There are residency requirements for filing a divorce petition in Texas. You can file for divorce in the county where either your or your spouse lives, as long as the following requirements are met at the time of filing: 

  • You or your spouse have lived in that county for at least the last 90 days, and 
  • You or your spouse have lived in Texas for at least the last 6 months.

If you are not sure if you or your spouse satisfy the residency requirements, you should consult with a family law attorney. The attorney can review the facts of your situation and help you determine if you meet the requirements.

Grounds for Divorce

In Texas, you can file for either a fault or no-fault divorce. No fault is just what it sounds like—no party is blaming or assigning fault to the other for the breakdown of the marriage. 

In an at-fault divorce, fault or blame is assigned to one of the parties for the end of the marriage. A fault-based divorce is often more lengthy, expensive, and contested.

The recognized grounds for an at-fault divorce include:

  • Cruelty,
  • Adultery,
  • Conviction of a felony,
  • Abandonment,
  • Living in separate residences for at least 3 years, and
  • Confinement in a mental hospital.

If you are alleging your spouse is at fault, you must provide evidence in court to support the alleged fault. Proving that your spouse is at fault may result in greater benefits to you, including being awarded a larger portion of the community estate.

If you are considering filing an at-fault divorce, consult an attorney to ensure you understand your rights and the strength of your case.

Paths to Divorce

There are two paths to pursue divorce in Texas: uncontested divorce or contested divorce. The route you take will likely depend on whether you and your spouse can come to reasonable agreements on issues such as grounds for divorce, division of the community estate, and child custody, visitation, and support matters.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is an available option when you and your spouse can agree on all issues in your divorce, including:

  • The grounds for the divorce,
  • How to divide community assets and debts,
  • Spousal support (if applicable), 
  • The amount of child support, and
  • Custody and visitation schedules of any minor children.

An uncontested divorce is typically faster and less expensive because the parties can agree and do not need to spend much, if any, time in court.

To start the process, one spouse must file an Original Petition for Divorce. The petition is where you outline what you are asking for in the divorce relating to the division of the community estate and custody, visitation, and support of any minor children.

Whichever spouse did not file the petition may sign a Waiver of Service form, acknowledging that they are waiving formal service of the lawsuit. Then the petitioning spouse does not have to formally serve their spouse with copies of the petition. Be careful before signing a Waiver of Service to make sure you are not waiving any other rights. You should consider consulting with a divorce attorney to be sure that you understand all documents before you sign them. 

You can file documents online or in person at the local courthouse. In either case, you may want a divorce attorney to review your materials to ensure you’ve included all the appropriate information. An attorney can also file any documents for you. 

After you submit the petition you must wait 60 days before the court will sign your divorce decree and grant the divorce. Once you and your spouse have agreed to the terms of your divorce, you can draft and submit your final divorce decree with the court. After 60 days following the filing of the petition, you may schedule an uncontested prove-up hearing where you must appear, either in person or via sworn affidavit, to finalize your divorce. At the hearing, the judge will review your documentation and will ask a few questions. Uncontested divorce hearings are usually rather short. Once the hearing is complete, the judge will grant your divorce and sign the divorce decree, assuming all requirements have been met. 

Even if you and your spouse have agreed on all issues, it is still helpful to work with an experienced attorney. A divorce attorney can ensure you follow the proper court procedures, cover all divorce-related issues, and understand any potential consequences of your agreements. An attorney can also draft all necessary legal documents to accurately reflect your agreements.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is necessary when spouses cannot agree on one or more issues relating to their divorce. In this situation, the parties will need the court to decide any contested issues.

Just like an uncontested case, you will need to file an Original Petition for Divorce. Then you must serve a copy of the petition on your spouse, giving them proper notice of the lawsuit. Your spouse then has a period of time to file an answer and counterpetition.  

Your case then may go through initial hearings related to temporary orders. Temporary orders determine how finances and child custody, visitation, and support will be handled while the divorce is pending. Some courts may require you and your spouse to attend mediation prior to appearing for a temporary orders hearing. 

The court will most likely require you to mediate your issues prior to a final trial as well.. However, the case will proceed to trial if you cannot reach an agreement through mediation. If you can agree to some but not all issues, you can sign a partial mediated settlement agreement and ask the court to decide only the remaining disputes. This can help save time and money even if you have to proceed to trial. At trial, both spouses will present their cases to the judge and have the court make decisions related to any contested issues. 

Hiring a skilled and knowledgeable divorce lawyer is vital in contested divorce cases. In a contested divorce, there is a greater likelihood of contention, and emotions may run high. A lawyer will help you look at the issues logically, through a legal lens. They will fight to protect your rights related to both your property and children.  

Our Talented Galveston County Divorce Lawyers Can Help

We understand that divorce is an emotional time for you and your family. The Stout Law Firm, PLLC, can help as you enter this challenging moment in your life. Our talented attorneys are equipped to handle your divorce. We are familiar with property division, child custody, spousal support, and child support matters. We will fight for what you deserve. As a small law firm, we can dedicate our attention to your specific needs. We pride ourselves on being great communicators and responding quickly to questions and concerns. Our attorneys are all board certified in family law and have been recognized for their achievements, with Angela Stout being recognized as a Texas Super Lawyer for eight years in a row (2017-2024).Look no further for a Galveston or Houston area divorce lawyer. Contact The Stout Law Firm, PLLC, today to schedule a consultation.