From Alimony to Fault Grounds: 5 Common Misconceptions About Texas Divorce

Are you contemplating divorce in the Lone Star state? If this is your first time to the divorce rodeo in Texas, it pays to hire a reputable divorce attorney and do a little research to understand the process. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of common misconceptions about divorce in Texas so you can get a better handle on what to expect.

Misconception No. 1: Alimony is a given.

If you’re expecting to live off of a healthy
monthly check from your soon-to-be ex, think again. The maximum amount of
alimony – known as spousal maintenance in Texas – a judge can order is $5,000
per month or 20 percent of the monied spouse’s monthly gross income, whichever is less. You also won’t qualify
for spousal maintenance in Texas if you have the ability to pay for living
expenses or do not meet other criteria. While you may be able to negotiate
contractual alimony in your divorce settlement, your spouse would have to
agree.

We answer several questions about alimony in Texas here.

Misconception No. 2: Once the divorce is
filed, you have to go to court.

Texas family courts really want couples to try to work through their differences together and avoid going to court. In fact, with most Texas divorces, the judge will order the parties to undergo mediation first. Collaborative divorce is also an option for Texas couples. Unlike mediation, where an impartial mediator acts as an intermediary and the two parties don’t speak directly, the collaborative route allows couples to work things out across the table from one another with their individual divorce lawyers by their sides.

Misconception No. 3: You can get a quickie
divorce.

Not so fast. Texas has a minimum, statutory 60-day
waiting period for divorce. At least one of the spouses must also meet certain
residency requirements. These include living a minimum of six continuous months
in the state of Texas before filing for divorce and a minimum of 90 days in the
county where the divorce will be filed.  

Misconception No. 4: You need to have a
reason – fault grounds – to get a divorce.

While the state of Texas has clearly spelled
out fault grounds for divorce (cruelty, adultery, felony conviction and
abandonment), a divorce may also be granted based on no-fault grounds, including
insupportability (commonly referred to as irreconcilable differences), living
apart and confinement to a mental hospital. In fact, the majority of Texas
divorces are granted based on no-fault grounds, with insupportability being the
most common. Fault grounds do serve a purpose in Texas divorces, because they
may affect the outcome of divorce settlements. (See Misconception No. 5 below.)

We take a deeper dive into the seven grounds for divorce in Texas here. 

Misconception No. 5: Community property is
split 50/50.

While Texas is a community property state, it
is NOT an automatic 50/50 community property state. Instead, the law requires a
just and right division of property when couples in Texas get divorced. Remember
those fault grounds mentioned above? The judge may take fault grounds into
consideration when determining how to divide community property fairly. For
example, someone who has been unfaithful or abusive may end up with a smaller
portion of the community estate, based on his or her actions. The judge may
also award a larger portion of the estate to a homemaker with lesser income
potential than the husband who brings home a hefty salary. Ultimately, the
estate will be divided based on the evidence presented to the judge, and that
could end up with community property being split 50/50, 55/45, 60/40 and so on.

Need more information about divorce in Texas?

Contact an experienced divorce attorney in
the county where you reside. He or she can address questions and issues
pertinent to your specific case.

Alissa Castro is a Dallas family law attorney with experience in a wide variety
of legal venues and is committed to obtaining the best results for her clients.
She is an active member of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and has
donated her services to several charitable causes including the Dallas
Volunteer Attorney Program, Mississippi Volunteer Lawyer Project and Catholic
Charities. To learn more about divorce and child custody options in Dallas and
Collin Counties, please call 214-306-8441 to
speak confidentially with a knowledgeable and considerate member of the
Connatser Family Law team.

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