How long does the divorce process take in Texas?

In Texas, there is no such thing as a “quickie” divorce.  The Texas Family Code provides for a mandatory 60-day waiting period between when a divorce is filed and when a final decree of divorce can be entered.  This is the state’s way of giving people a cooling off period and a chance to change their mind.  There is one exception to the 60-day requirement, and that is for cases involving family violence.

Although a divorce can technically be completed as soon as the 60-day waiting period is over, the reality is that very few divorces are actually completed that quickly.  In my experience, the only divorces that were completed that soon after filing were cases where the parties either had all agreements worked out before filing or there were no children or property to deal with.

The timeline for a contested divorce case can vary pretty dramatically.  Generally, courts in Texas want to see divorces resolved within a year, but it is unfortunately all-too-common for them to drag on longer than that.  If there are disputed custody issues, many cases involve a social study.  (In fact, in Dallas County, all courts currently require a social study in contested custody cases.)  Social studies typically take 60-90 days, but I have seen them take longer.

If there are disputed property issues, discovery may be necessary to determine the status of assets and debts.  Discovery can include written discovery sent to the other party (interrogatories, requests for admission, requests for production of documents, etc.), subpoenas for documents from non-parties, and depositions.  The discovery process can typically take anywhere from 3-9 months, depending on how much is requested and how much follow-up is needed once responses are received.

Most contested cases end up in mediation when discovery is complete or substantially complete.  Mediation is an attempt to settle the case without the necessity of a trial.  Mediation usually occurs anywhere from 6-12 months after the case is filed, and it usually occurs pretty close to the final trial setting.



You May Also Like