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How long does a divorce take in Texas?

Curious how long divorce takes in Texas? We explain how long it typically takes and what factors impact the timetable for a divorce in Texas.

evident Editorial Team
November 20, 2023
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Getting divorced in Texas can be a stressful and complicated process.

If you are going through a divorce in Texas, you likely have questions like how long does an uncontested divorce take in Texas, or how long does it take for a divorce to be finalized in Texas?

The answer depends on the particular circumstances surrounding a given divorce. But there are a number of factors that can predictably influence a Texas divorce timeline.

In this article, we'll provide a general timetable for finalizing a divorce in Texas and explore the different factors that affect how long a divorce takes.

If you have questions specific to your situation, though, you should consider speaking with a family law attorney to discuss your circumstances.

Key Takeaways

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces in Texas

One of the most important factors that determines how long a divorce will take in Texas is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. (Note that divorce is also sometimes called marriage dissolution in Texas, but the terms are interchangeable).

Generally speaking, uncontested divorces take less time than contested divorces, and the timeline for contested divorces can vary greatly. 

Let's take a closer look at how long contested and uncontested divorces take and how each type of divorce impacts the timeline of the divorce process in Texas. 

How long does an uncontested divorce take in Texas?

An uncontested divorce is when both spouses agree to end a marriage and agree on all of the terms of the divorce, which include alimony, property division, child support, and child custody. Uncontested divorces require minimal involvement from the court since the spouses already agree on all the issues, which helps shorten the typical uncontested divorce timeline in Texas.

Generally, an uncontested divorce in Texas will take about two to three months. Note that it will also take a minimum of two months because there is a Texas divorce waiting period of sixty days.

An uncontested divorce in Texas can take longer if the parties discover that they don't actually agree on all the terms of the divorce and need to go to court or if they have trouble working through any of the issues. Missteps (such as delaying filing the divorce papers) may also prolong the process. 

How long does a contested divorce take in Texas? 

A contested divorce is when the spouses don't agree on all of the terms of the divorce. Contested divorces require far more oversight from the court.

Each contested divorce is different, so it's difficult to estimate how long a contested divorce will take. A contested divorce in Texas can take as few as six to nine months, but the complexity of the couple's affairs (such as the size and complexity of the marital estate) will influence how long it will take.

Divorces that are particularly complicated or contentious could even take years from the initial divorce petition to the final divorce hearing. In such situations, the court may issue temporary orders, such as awarding temporary spousal support or custody of any children while the divorce process unfolds.

Cooperation between spouses is crucial to helping a contested divorce move more quickly. 

What else affects how long a divorce takes in Texas?

Here are other factors that often impact the timeline for a divorce in Texas.

Whether your divorce involves minor children

Divorces involving minor children require decisions on child custody and child support, whether by agreement between the spouses or by court order. Sorting through either of these issues can lengthen the divorce process, particularly if the couple disagrees on how to handle custody.

The size of the marital estate   

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Generally speaking, married couples with more shared property will likely have a longer divorce process. Texas is a community property state, so property acquired during a marriage is presumed to be owned equally by both spouses.

Divorce agreements must address the division of property, so decisions must be made on who gets what from the marital estate for the divorce to progress. This means the parties will need to decide how property, such as homes or vehicles, will be divided.  

The complexity of the couple's assets

Divorces with complicated assets often take longer than those with simpler marital property.

For example, the following scenarios would be considered complex if one or both spouses: 

  • Have a significant ownership interest in a business or own their own business 
  • Have a broad range of investments (e.g. if one spouse has substantial investments in stocks, real estate, or various commodities)
  • Has significant debt 
  • Receives income from a business that is not based in the U.S. 

Whether one spouse is financially dependent on the other 

If there is a financial imbalance between the parties, such as if one spouse didn't work for much of the marriage, the divorce process will probably include discussion about whether this spouse should be financially supported after the marriage ends. Calculating this support -- called spousal maintenance in Texas and more commonly known as alimony -- can prolong divorce proceedings. 

When evaluating Texas spousal maintenance, Texas law sets out numerous factors for the court to consider, including:

  • Each spouse’s ability to provide for their reasonable needs
  • The education level and employment skills of each spouse
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The age, employment history, earning capacity, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance

Whether it is a fault or no-fault divorce 

When someone files for divorce in Texas, they must state the “grounds” for their divorce. The "grounds" for divorce are essentially the legally acceptable reasons for the separation.

Texas is a no-fault divorce state but also has fault-based grounds for divorce available. During a fault-based divorce, the filing spouse must prove that the other spouse caused the marriage to end. The requirement to prove fault can increase the time it takes for the divorce to be finalized. 

By contrast, no-fault divorces are when neither spouse is to blame (legally speaking) for the end of the marriage. Neither spouse has to prove fault in a no-fault divorce, so no-fault divorces are usually faster. 

How contentious the divorce is

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Finally, whether the couple can cooperate will have a large impact on the Texas divorce process timeline.

Not all contested divorces are created equal, and not every contested divorce has to be a scorched-earth legal battle between the parties' divorce lawyers. But, generally speaking, the more contentious your divorce is, the longer it is likely to take. (This is also one of the key factors affecting the cost of divorce in Texas).

FAQs About Divorce in Texas

Is there a waiting period for divorce in Texas? 

Yes, there is a 60-day mandatory waiting period for divorce in Texas. Texas divorce law provides two limited exceptions for cases involving domestic violence. Otherwise, though, the court may not enter a divorce decree before the 60th day after the divorce petition was filed.

Do you have to be separated before divorce in Texas?

You do not have to be separated for any particular amount of time before filing for divorce in Texas. The key requirements that parties must meet to file for divorce in Texas are the residency requirements. That is, at least one spouse must have lived in Texas for at least six months and resided in the county where the divorce is filed for 90 days.  

Note also that Texas divorce law does not recognize legal separation.

How long does a divorce take in Texas with a child? 

While it is hard to offer a specific timetable, a divorce in Texas in which minor children are involved will typically take longer than a divorce that doesn't involve minor children.

The biggest factor affecting a Texas divorce timeline is whether the spouses can reach an agreement so that they can file for an uncontested divorce as opposed to a contested divorce. Not only do contested divorces take longer as the parties have to work through their issues, but they also depend more on the court's schedule and availability.

A Texas divorce with a child could take the same amount of time as the timetables discussed above, which is anywhere from two months to two years. The key distinction, though, is that divorces involving a child are typically more complicated and also more likely to involve disagreement, meaning that overall, they tend to take more time.

The Bottom Line

So, how long does a divorce take in Texas? A Texas divorce can take anywhere from two months to multiple years.

Generally speaking, uncontested no-fault divorces move the fastest, but this option is not always available. And among contested divorces, many factors influence how long it takes to divorce in Texas.

If you have questions specific to your circumstances, consider speaking with a Texas divorce lawyer to get a more accurate estimate of how long your divorce might take.