In the United States, same-sex marriages were legalized much later than in Europe and Canada. Although some states, for example, Massachusetts recognized them back in 2003, Texas law remained conservative, and getting a same-sex divorce in Texas was impossible.
Everything changed when the Supreme Court ruled to allow same-sex marriages in all states on June 26, 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges. This ruling abides all judges to recognize same-sex marriage and grant a gay divorce. As such, in Texas, the divorce process is now identical for heterosexual and same-sex couples under federal law.
Both formal and common law marriage require an official divorce. This procedure is regulated by family law and includes meeting the residency requirements, providing legal grounds for divorce, submitting the settlement agreement, and so on.
Same-sex divorce online
The process of same-sex divorce in Texas involves several stages, extensive paperwork, and significant financial expenses related to hiring an attorney.
In the event of an uncontested divorce, there is the alternative option of preparing for a divorce over the internet. In this case, there is no need to go through a divorce trial. For same-sex marriage dissolution, a couple is only required to file for divorce in Texas and be present at a subsequent court hearing.
For every individual case of uncontested divorce, the service Texasonlinedivorce.com provides all the necessary printable documents at an affordable price of $139. It is a quick and inexpensive way to get divorced without a lawyer.
Same-sex divorce papers in Texas
To start a same-sex marriage dissolution process it is necessary to file certain documents for divorce to the court. Preparing same-sex divorce papers in Texas with the help of a lawyer is much more expensive than if you do it yourself.
Same-sex divorce forms in Texas vary in each given case and depend on the type of divorce, whether there are children involved, and some other circumstances.
After the divorce papers are ready, you need to file them by yourself to the District Court, which handles family law matters, including same-sex cases, for the chosen county in Texas. More detailed information on how to file same-sex divorce in Texas can be obtained by inquiring at the County Clerk’s Office.
Valid grounds for same-sex divorce in Texas
Based on Family Code, Chapter 6, the major grounds to end the marriage in Texas legally include:
- insupportability, or a conflict of personalities
- adultery, proved by various facts
- cruelty toward the other party, or to one of the family members
- felony commitment and imprisonment for at least 1 year
- drug or alcohol abuse
- abandonment for over 1 year
- separate residence for more than 3 years
- confinement to a mental hospital at the time of filing for divorce
Insupportability is the only no-fault ground, while the rest are fault-based grounds.
Custody of the Child
Title 5 of the Texas Family Code regulates the parent’s relationship with children that are affected by the divorce. These rules apply to same-sex couples if one of the spouses is a biological parent, and the other (or both) adopted the child.
The court may award joint or sole custody, which are defined as follows:
Joint custody - A child resides with one of the parents, and the other parent has the right to visitations and to make decisions about the child.
Sole custody - A child lives with only one parent who has the exclusive right to make decisions concerning the child.
Following the local rules, joint custody is the most common type.
A judge may order both or one of the parties to attend a parenting class to minimize stress and help develop possible benefits for the children. In some counties, there is also an option to apply for online courses.
One or both parents may be ordered to support a child financially. According to Sec. 160.201 of the Texas Family Code, which is dedicated to the parent-child relationship, a person must be the natural mother (father) or established legal parenting rights through adoption.
This financial support is provided until one of the requirements is valid:
- a child is under 18 or still in high school
- a child is disabled regardless of his/her age
- until the marriage or death of a child
In Texas, the amount of child support is calculated according to the net income, other resources of the paying parent, and the number of children involved in the case.
Maintenance, or spousal support, is a temporary payment from one spouse to another after the dissolution of marriage. According to Sec.8.051 of the Family Code, it is possible to obtain alimony if:
- the spouse has a disability and cannot provide for themselves
- the spouse cannot find a job due to age or health issues
- the spouse has to care for a child with special needs
- an agreement has been reached on the payment of maintenance
- the couple has been married for more than ten years
To determine the amount of support, a judge considers financial information for each spouse, physical and mental ability to work, and any history of violence. It cannot be more than $5,000 a month or 20% of the paying party’s gross income.
Texas is a state of community property, which means that the property acquired in marriage by either spouse belongs to both of the spouses. Other states have a common law system when the property acquired by one spouse belongs to just that person.
How is the property divided exactly? When dividing assets in Texas, there are no definite rules, and a judge has every right to distribute it at his discretion in the divorce proceedings.
Mediation is an alternative way to resolve conflicts. The mediator is an impartial person who assists in negotiations between the parties. Through the process of mediation, it is easy to reach an amicable settlement in a relatively short time. In family disputes, it is often used to divide assets, determine custody and child support.
Mediation may be requested by a court or upon a written agreement of the spouses.
The court also may decline any settlement agreement on several occasions, according to Section 6.602 of Family Code. Examples may include:
- If one of the parties has been a victim of family violence and impaired to make decisions
- If the agreement permits a person with a criminal past or history of abuse to reside with children
- If the agreement conflicts with a child’s best interests
Filing fees for same-sex divorce in Texas
Filing of same-sex divorce papers in Texas involves the payment of a filing fee. The amount of the fee depends on the complexity of the case, and additional services. The basic cost usually does not exceed $300.
The decision on how to serve the papers also affects the overall cost. There are several options to deliver these documents to the other party. The papers are usually delivered by the sheriff in person or by mail. The exact price can be clarified in the county clerk’s office.
How long it will take
In Texas, the length of the divorce process varies based on the individual circumstances of each case. Divorces that go to trial can take several months or even years. Uncontested divorce cases can typically be completed in just a few weeks. But even in the simplest cases of uncontested divorce, there is a mandatory waiting period of 60 days before a judge will grant a divorce. In cases of proven domestic violence offenses against the Petitioner or other family member the mandatory waiting period may be waived.
It is important to note that there is also a waiting period of 30 days after the divorce decree is signed before either spouse is allowed to remarry. However, this too can be waived in some cases.