How to file an arranged divorce with minor children in Texas
Although filing for divorce can seem daunting and complicated, we are here to help. We will walk you through the entire process of an agreement divorce in Texas with minor children. A heads-up: If you or your spouse serve in the military, there will be differences.
You must file an Agreed Separation with Children if you have children under 18 years of age with your spouse.
Filing for an arranged divorce with children
For couples with minor children, uncontested divorces cannot be granted. Instead, an “agreed to divorce” form is granted. This means that you must both agree on all aspects of the divorce, including child custody and support. You also need to be willing to sign all court forms. You can’t have any existing court orders regarding custody or child support.
What are the Texas residency requirements to divorce?
If you do not live in the same area, you can file for divorce in either the county you reside in or the county in which your spouse resides. Your spouse or you must have:
- lived in the county where you intend to file for at least 90 calendar days.
- You must have lived in Texas at least six months before you file your divorce petition.
The same residency requirements apply for military personnel and their spouses, even if they aren’t legal residents.
Children must also have residency. The children must be either: or in order for Texas courts to have jurisdiction over their custody and visitation orders.
- Texas resident for the least six months, or since birth.
- Texas must be the home state of the child; the child cannot have been away from Texas for more than six months before the divorce papers are filed.
You should ensure that you have the right forms to file for divorce. There are many forms available for different situations. You may find the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act helpful if one parent lives in a different country.
Is there any special considerations for Texas same-sex spouses?
Please note, if you are part of the LGBTQ+ community, that Texas Family Code doesn’t have a provision or corresponding court forms for divorces involving same-sex partners with children.
Couples with children who are same-sex may use Set B forms, which is designated “for couples with minor children”. The court will decide if you are allowed to keep using the set of forms, or if your situation is different. If you are a member of a same-sex married couple, it is important to seek legal advice before filing for divorce.
Who is the Petitioner Who is the Respondent
The “Petitioner” is the person who files the divorce petition. The “Respondent” is the other spouse.
What grounds are there for divorcing in Texas?
Texas allows petitioners to choose whether they want to file for a no-fault or fault divorce. An uncontested divorce requires that both the petitioner and the spouses agree on the grounds of divorce. Then, they can file for one of the no fault grounds. Texas has seven divorce grounds. These have been divided into no-fault and fault:
- Reasons for fault: cruelty (for at most one year) and abandonment
- No fault grounds: Insupportability, living apart at least 3 years and confinement in a mental hospital
What are the most common reasons for divorce in Texas
The most common reason for divorce is insupportability. This happens when the spouses claim that they have “irreconcilable disagreements” and are unable to reconcile. It is a no fault ground and the respondent or petitioner don’t have to prove the wrongdoing of the spouse.
Notice: Evidence and testimony of the behavior of the other spouse is required for all fault grounds. This could impact the division of assets and spousal maintenance as well as child custody. Be sure to have sufficient evidence to support any fault grounds you might file. The court may not accept your claim of fault. The court may grant your divorce on a non-fault basis like insupportability, even if they do not. The easiest way to file for divorce is under a no fault ground such as insupportability.
How can I file forms in Texas and send them to my spouse?
If you do not live in the same area, you can file your divorce petition along with any additional forms to the court. The “Final Decree of Divorce” contains your requested orders.
You must file a copy of your Original Petition For Divorce and Citation with the court. These forms are valid only if:
- They are served (delivered to) by a constable or sheriff.
- A “Return of Service Form” must be completed and filed with court.
Texas Divorce Waiting Period
Between the filing of a Petition for Divorce and the signing of a Final Decree of Divorce, there is a 60-day wait period. This requirement cannot be waived except in extraordinary circumstances, such as domestic violence. It is at the discretion of court.
You should also finalize all agreements during this period. Both spouses must fill out a form called Required Initial Disclosures in Divorce. Within 30 days after the answer is filed, you must give the completed form to your spouse.
Before you can appear in court to have your proof-up hearing, the Final Decree must be signed. You may need to have your Final Decree of Divorce reviewed and signed by an attorney depending on where you filed. To find out if this applies to you, call your district clerk’s Office.
Separately from the Final Decree, you will need to complete and sign the Qualified Domestic Relations Order. Click here for more information about QDRO.
What happens if there is a prenuptial/postnuptial agreement?
If you have a prenuptial/postnuptial agreement, your Final Decree must reflect it. Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements should be made public in the Required Initial Disclosures. They can be used as evidence at court hearings or status. The court will investigate why the Final Decree and settlement agreements do not match. Duress is a condition in which one spouse is forced or compelled into agreeing to something that they don’t want.
Texas Spousal Support for Divorce
Uncontested divorces are not eligible for court-ordered maintenance. The spouses may agree to “contractual Alimony”, which is basically the same thing, but it is not ordered or calculated by the court. Your Final Decree can contain the details of your contractual Alimony and be presented to the court at your prove-up hearing.
Texas Divorce Prove-up Hearing
A prove-up hearing may be necessary for an agreed divorce with children. You and your spouse will present a Final Decree of Divorce to the judge as proof of your uncontested divorce. The court must honor the terms that were agreed to by both parties. The judge is the final arbiter.
If we have children, can I get a proof-up hearing?
In certain cases, the court may refuse to grant a proof-up if there are minor children involved. The judge might instead order an initial status hearing for you and your spouse, to review the information in the Original Answer or Petition. The judge will have the opportunity to review your case and make recommendations about issues such as visitation and child support.