No one enters into marriage thinking about divorce. Unfortunately, it’s a challenge that a significant portion of married couples face. You may not plan for a divorce, but if you find yourself in that position, it’s important for you to know how to protect yourself. All of the licenses required before your nuptials require a legal process to dissolve the marriage, and that can be quite burdensome to those who lack experience with legal matters. Simply knowing what is required prior to filing for a divorce may not be common knowledge. The most well-intentioned friend whom you lean on during this difficult transition may provide advice that leads you to believe that a divorce attorney is unnecessary. Yet their good intentions won’t protect you if your divorce turns into a battle.
The short answer to the question is that there is no legal requirement to have a divorce lawyer represent you in a divorce. However, there are more than a few reasons why legal representation might be the best choice for you. Those reasons include expert legal advice to help reduce stress, avoid mistakes, understand the binding agreement, and help avoid delays.
You should note that if your spouse has an attorney, then it is highly advised that you gain representation as well. A divorce attorney can only represent one spouse during a divorce.
Section 6 of the Texas Family Code lists seven grounds for divorce which include:
Insupportability is the most common grounds for divorce. Those seeking to claim a divorce in Texas under grounds of insupportability must wait at least 60 days. In the best situation, both parties will reach an agreement on the divorce, property and debt, and children if applicable. If the parties cannot reach an agreement then their divorce attorneys will step in.
A claim of insupportability simply means there’s a “discord or conflict of personalities” within the relationship. It also means that the discord or conflict prevents a “reasonable expectation of reconciliation.”
In most cases, divorces pleading other grounds also typically include a claim of insupportability. It covers a wide spectrum that allows the person alleging grounds for divorce to prove their claim. An example of proving one’s claim for divorce would be adultery. The claim must be substantiated and proven that adultery occurred in order to legally file on those grounds.
In some relationships, living apart creates another ground for divorce. According to Texas law, filing on this ground requires that the “spouses have lived apart without cohabitation for at least three years.” Both parties may need to provide proof of address when filing such a claim.
Confinement in a mental hospital is the third ground for divorce in Texas. It requires that the spouse be confined in a state or private mental hospital for a term of at least three years. Additionally, it is a requirement that “the mental disorder be of such a degree and nature that adjustment is unlikely or that, if adjustment occurs, relapse is probable”
Cruelty is the next ground for divorce. It occurs when a spouse treats the other cruelly, thereby making living together insupportable. This is common when domestic violence or mental abuse occurs within a relationship.
In some cases, abandonment is a justifiable reason for divorce. Filing this particular claim requires that one spouse “left the complaining spouse with the intention of abandonment; and was away for at least one year.”
Conviction of a Felony
If one spouse receives a felony conviction; is imprisoned for at least one year in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, a federal penitentiary, or the penitentiary of another state; and is not pardoned, then the court may grant a divorce in favor of the other spouse.
However, the court may not grant a divorce under such a claim against a spouse convicted on the testimony of the other spouse.
Adultery is a legal claim for divorce, but as stated before, proof of adultery is required when claiming it as a ground for divorce. The court may grant the divorce in favor of one spouse if the other has committed adultery.
How soon can my divorce be finalized?
It takes about 61 days after filing to finalize a divorce. However, it may take longer depending on the complexity of the divorce agreement and the claims of both parties involved.
Can I Handle My Divorce Without a Divorce Attorney in Texas?
Entering into a divorce without legal representation is risky. This is especially true when issues relating to property distribution, children, or claims to alimony are at stake. However, it is not a legal requirement for you to have representation. Your choosing to forgo legal advice could depend on your personality and that of your spouse, as well as what is at stake. Still, for your own protection, you should avoid completing a divorce without at least consulting with an attorney.