In Texas, divorcing a spouse in jail isn’t too different from a regular divorce proceeding. The main initial requirement is that one or both of the spouses have lived in Texas for six months and 90 days in the county where they’re petitioning before they file.
Fault vs. No-Fault
Texas law provides several legal categories that define why you’re divorcing, including:
- No-Fault – “Insupportability” means there are differences that cannot be repaired. You don’t need to explain those differences just that they exist.
- Fault – “Conviction of a felony” is obvious, but note that your spouse must be convicted, not just in jail awaiting court.
- Fault – “Living apart” for three or more years.
Picking one of these reasons and then filing, starts the divorce process.
You must file the Petition for Dissolution, naming the fault/no-fault grounds for divorce. You may waive serving your incarcerated spouse these documents. However, your spouse must always receive notice of your divorce filing, unless they’ve signed a waiver claiming they’ve received notice. If you don’t have a waiver, you may use a professional process server in your county, to deliver the papers to your jailed spouse. In that case, your spouse must retain a Texas divorce attorney who serves as a representative in the divorce proceedings.
Next, you must file the paperwork with the District or County Court in your county of residence. You can call your county courthouse to find out where to file or see video #4 inside the DIY Texas Divorce program to see me actually make a call.
What Happens After Filing?
Under Texas law, you must endure a “cooling off” period of 60 days. The intent was that the couple might decide to change their minds during this time. During the 60 days, neither spouse may remarry until the divorce is final. On the 61st day, you can go to court and ask the judge for the divorce.
In Texas, your spouse doesn’t have to agree to the divorce. Be aware that your spouse could contest the divorce by filing an answer or a counter-petition. If your spouse contests the divorce, things could get messy. Texas allows for jury trials during divorce proceedings which will add to the financial and emotional cost. If you have children, this will likely be a more difficult procedure for them – and everyone else.
Deciding what to do with jointly owned assets, as well as child custody, is something every divorcing couple must agree on. Allowing the courts or a jury to decide for you is risky. It’s always better if you can mutually agree.
An uncontested divorce is when both spouses come to an agreement. This allows for a “do-it-yourself” process, which is where DIY Texas Divorce can help.
Depending on how you choose to settle the process, you will ultimately attend family court to receive your final decree.
A Little Help from Friends
Sometimes a helping hand is important during the divorce process. While you can select the option to handle this yourself, ask the following questions to determine if you need help from a professional:
- Can you meet all the legal deadlines in this process?
- Are you thorough enough to complete all paperwork properly?
- Do you know and understand the court’s procedures in your county?
If you answered “no” to any of these, it might be wise to seek professional counsel. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced legal team at DIY Texas Divorce for advice and support when you need it. Our staff can help you navigate the sometimes tricky legal process — and help you come out clean on the other side.