Step-by-Step Guide to Filing for Divorce in Texas

When contemplating divorce in Texas, knowing how to navigate the legal process is essential for a smooth transition. Understanding the step-by-step procedure for filing for divorce can help individuals approach the process with confidence and clarity. In this informative guide, we’ll outline the key steps involved in initiating divorce proceedings in Texas.

Residency Requirements

Before filing for divorce in Texas, it’s crucial to ensure that you meet the state’s residency requirements. At least one spouse must have been a resident of Texas for the preceding six months and a resident of the county where the divorce is filed for the preceding 90 days.

Grounds for Divorce

In Texas, individuals seeking a divorce can choose between fault-based and no-fault grounds. Each type of divorce has its own set of criteria that must be met to proceed. Understanding these grounds can help individuals determine the most appropriate basis for their divorce filing.

No-Fault Divorce: Insupportability

The most common ground for divorce in Texas is insupportability, which is a no-fault option. Insupportability, often referred to as irreconcilable differences, means that the marriage has become insupportable due to discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation. This ground does not require either spouse to prove wrongdoing by the other and is frequently cited due to its simplicity and the lack of need for contentious allegations.

Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce

While no-fault divorces are common, Texas law also allows for fault-based divorces, where one spouse alleges that the other’s misconduct led to the breakdown of the marriage. The recognized fault-based grounds include:

  • Adultery: If one spouse can prove that the other has committed adultery, this can serve as grounds for divorce. Adultery is often proven through evidence such as text messages, emails, or witness testimony.
  • Cruelty: Cruelty involves one spouse treating the other in a way that makes living together insupportable. This can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, or other forms of cruel treatment that endanger the mental or physical well-being of the other spouse.
  • Abandonment: If one spouse leaves the other with the intention of abandonment and remains away for at least one year, the deserted spouse can file for divorce on grounds of abandonment.
  • Felony Conviction: A spouse can seek a divorce if the other spouse has been convicted of a felony, has been imprisoned for at least one year, and has not been pardoned. This ground highlights the impact of criminal behavior on the marriage.
  • Living Apart: If the spouses have lived apart without cohabitation for at least three years, this can serve as grounds for divorce. This recognizes prolonged separation as a sign of an irreparable breakdown of the marriage.

Preparing the Petition

The divorce process begins with filing a petition for divorce with the district court in the county where either spouse resides. The petition outlines the grounds for divorce, requests for relief, and any additional information relevant to the case. The petitioner, or filing spouse, is responsible for initiating the legal action.

Serving the Petition

After the petition is filed, the other spouse, known as the respondent, must be served with a copy of the petition and citation. This can be done through personal service by a process server or constable, or by certified mail with return receipt requested. Proof of service must be filed with the court.

Waiting Period

Texas imposes a mandatory waiting period before a divorce can be finalized. In most cases, there is a 60-day waiting period from the date the petition is filed before the court can grant the divorce. This waiting period is intended to provide spouses with an opportunity to reconcile if desired.

Negotiating Settlement

During the waiting period, spouses may engage in negotiations to reach a settlement agreement addressing issues such as property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support. If an agreement is reached, it can be submitted to the court for approval.

Finalizing the Divorce

Once the waiting period has elapsed and any settlement agreements have been reached, the divorce can be finalized. This typically involves attending a final hearing before a judge, where the terms of the divorce are reviewed and approved. Upon approval, the court issues a final divorce decree, officially dissolving the marriage.


Navigating the divorce process in Texas can be complex, but with a clear understanding of the steps involved and the assistance of a qualified family law attorney, individuals can navigate the process with confidence. By following this step-by-step guide, individuals can initiate divorce proceedings in Texas with clarity and preparation.