One of the most common questions clients ask a divorce lawyer in the Woodlands is “How long will my divorce take?” The short answer is that the timeframe for a divorce in Texas can vary depending on the type of divorce and the specific circumstances of the case.
Texas has a 60-day minimum waiting period for divorces, which begins the day you file. It takes an average of two to three months to finalize an uncontested divorce after the waiting period. Contested divorces may take nine months to several years.
The Timeframe for a Divorce in Texas
The timeframe for a divorce in Texas can vary based on the current backlog of the court and the level of responsiveness from the involved parties. Conflict and complexity of the case can also influence how the process takes.
Common issues that can prolong a divorce include:
- Fault-based grounds for divorce
- Child custody disputes
- Disputes over property division
Uncontested Vs. Contested Divorce
There are two types of divorces: contested and uncontested. An uncontested divorce is one where both spouses agree on all issues concerning the divorce. In contrast, a contested divorce occurs when the spouses are unable to reach a consensus on their divorce matters, leading to a situation where a judge is required to make the decisions on their behalf.
In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on the terms of the divorce. There is no formal trial, and only the petitioner appears in court. Both parties involved agree on topics such as how marital property will be divided, who will have custody over the children (or pets), and the reason for the divorce itself.
Both parties enter into a settlement agreement, which is subsequently drafted by one of the parties’ legal representatives. If both parties agree to the terms of the settlement it will be made an order of court.
An uncontested divorce is the quickest and least expensive type of divorce. It can be finalized within 60-90 days in most cases, after the sixty-day waiting period is over.
In a contested divorce, the spouses can’t agree on their divorce issues, in which case a judge will make the decisions for them. Contested divorces may take nine months to several years.
In the event of a contested divorce, the process could span various years. Most contested divorces tend to reach a settlement well before they are due for trial, resulting in a less drawn-out process. A contested divorce in Texas follows a specific timeline:
- Filing and Service: The petitioner files for divorce, and the court receives the documents. They are then submitted for a judge’s signature if a temporary restraining order has been requested.
- Temporary Orders: These are orders issued by the court to provide immediate protection and rules until the divorce is finalized.
- Negotiation: Both parties try to reach an agreement on the issues in the divorce.
- Trial: If no agreement is reached, the case goes to trial, and a judge might eventually need to decide how one or more issues are dealt with.
What Is the 60-Day Waiting Period?
The 60-day waiting period is a mandatory period that begins the day after the petitioner files for divorce. This means that the earliest you can get a divorce is 61 days after you file. This waiting period serves to provide spouses with an adequate timeframe to contemplate whether proceeding with a divorce is the best course of action, or if there remains a possibility for reconciliation.
How Does the Waiting Period Work?
Upon the submission of a divorce petition by the petitioner, a 60-day waiting period begins, excluding the filing date, before the divorce can be finalized. To illustrate, if the petition is lodged on May 3, 2023, the waiting period will conclude on July 2, 2023, marking the 60th day. Consequently, the divorce proceedings can be completed on or after July 3, 2023, which is the 61st day of the waiting period.
Exceptions to the Waiting Period
While the 60-day waiting period is a standard requirement, there are a few exceptions that may allow you to waive the waiting period in Texas. These exceptions are rare and typically involve situations of domestic violence or other urgent circumstances.
What Happens During the Waiting Period?
During the waiting period, the spouses can negotiate a settlement and try mediation. If by the 61st day, the spouses are unable to present a settlement agreement for the court’s approval, they have the option to either continue their out-of-court settlement negotiations or proceed with their case in court.
Contact a Divorce Lawyer in the Woodlands
At Bolton Law Firm, we are here to advocate for your interests and make the divorce process less stressful for you. Our divorce attorneys in the Woodlands will strive to secure a favorable outcome as quickly as possible.