Am I Still Legally Married After Filing for Divorce in Texas?
By Marcy Brinkley
Getting a divorce in Texas begins with filing a petition in the county where the parties have lived for at least six months. Filing the petition starts the process but it does not change your marital status. Your divorce is finalized when a judge grants the divorce and signs the divorce decree.
Except in certain cases involving family violence, the waiting period for a divorce in Texas is at least 60 days after you file the petition. Even if you and your spouse agree on the property division and child-related issues and sign an agreed decree of divorce, you are still married until the judge grants the divorce at a hearing. In fact, you could still be married for several months or even a year after filing if it takes that long to prepare for trial or reach a settlement on all of the issues.
No Waiting Period
The only exception to the 60-day waiting period is for cases that involve family violence. If you have a protective order against your spouse because of family violence or if your spouse has been convicted of family violence, you may ask the judge to grant the divorce without the requirement of a waiting period. Even in that situation, however, simply filing the petition would not change your marital status. The divorce becomes final when the judge grants it and signs the divorce decree.
Finalizing the Divorce
To finalize a divorce in Texas, you must present evidence at a hearing and ask the judge to grant your divorce. If you both sign an agreed divorce decree, one of you attends a brief hearing and presents the agreement to the judge. If there is no agreement, both of you present evidence at the hearing and ask the judge to decide the issues. When the judge is satisfied that all issues have been addressed, she will grant the divorce and sign the decree. At that time, you and your spouse will no longer be married, but you must wait 30 days before marrying someone else.
Verifying Marital Status
It is important to know the exact date of the divorce for tax, remarriage, child support and other purposes, but occasionally parties lose contact after the petition has been filed. If you know that your spouse filed a divorce petition but you are not sure if the divorce was ever finalized, call the courthouse where it was filed and provide the cause number listed at the top of the document. The clerk will tell you the status of the case and, if the divorce has been finalized, send you a copy of the final decree. If you do not know the case number, you may be required to go to the courthouse in person to view the file. Some counties provide information about the case status online but many do not. If you learn the petition is on file but the divorce has not been finalized, you are still married to your spouse.
Marcy Brinkley has been writing professionally since 2007. Her work has appeared in "Chicken Soup for the Soul," "Texas Health Law Reporter" and the "State Bar of Texas Health Law Section Report." Her degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; a Master of Business Administration; and a Doctor of Jurisprudence.