How to File for Divorce in Harris County
One of the most difficult experiences you may ever have to endure is divorce, but Harris County divorce is no worse than getting divorced anywhere else. Preparing yourself for what may come can make the process easier.
Whether you live in Houston, Pearland, or elsewhere in Harris County, divorce law requires you or your spouse to have lived in Texas for more than six months and in Harris County for at least 90 days before filing for divorce in Harris County. When you bring your paperwork to the Harris County divorce court, this officially begins your divorce.
How to File for a Harris County Divorce
Before you file for divorce in Harris County, you will want to hire an attorney. An experienced Harris County divorce lawyer will understand the divorce process and procedures. Your lawyer will also be able to advise you on the legal ramifications of divorce-related decisions.
By the time you are officially divorced, you will have filed many forms with the Harris County divorce court, but the Original Petition for Divorce is the first form you will need to file. It officially requests that the court end your marriage. The petition refers to a petitioner and a respondent. The spouse that files the form is the petitioner, and the other spouse is the respondent.
If your spouse is unaware that you have filed for divorce, you cannot legally be divorced. You must prove to the court that your spouse has been notified. You may present either a proof of service notice or a divorce notice that has been published in the newspaper if you cannot find your spouse though courts prefer in-person service.
Types of Divorce in Harris County
If you and your spouse agree on the major issues of your divorce, then this is known as a no-contest divorce. If you cannot agree on the major issues and need a judge to make the decisions for you, this is known as a contested divorce.
In Texas, you can file for either a no-fault divorce or a fault-based divorce (also known as an at-fault divorce). A fault-based divorce is granted when one party can be blamed for the failure of the marriage. No-fault divorces are granted when there is a breakdown in the marriage that neither party is responsible for.
Grounds for Divorce in Harris County
There are several grounds, or reasons, for granting a fault-based divorce. Among the more common in Harris County:
- Adultery. If your spouse has committed adultery, the court may grant you a divorce on the grounds of adultery.
- Cruelty. If the court finds your spouse guilty of mental or physical cruelty which makes it impossible to live with him or her, you may be granted a divorce on grounds of cruelty.
- Felony. If your spouse was convinced of a felony or has been in prison for at least a year, the court may grant you a divorce on grounds of felony.
- Living apart. Living in a different place from your spouse for more than three years may be grounds for divorce.
- Abandonment. If your spouse left more than a year ago and has not returned, you may be able to get a divorce on grounds of abandonment.