Sadly, marriages end for many reasons. If you believe your union is over because of irreconcilable differences or any other reason, seeking legal counsel is the natural next step. How long it takes to get divorced depends on where you live, among other factors. If you and your spouse are residents of San Antonio, find out how long it could take to finalize your divorce.
After filing a petition to dissolve the marriage, the spouse who filed must also pay the filing fee and serve their partner with divorce papers. Next, the spouse responsible for filing must wait a minimum of 60 days before moving forward with the divorce. The other spouse can contest the filing during this time, meaning they do not agree with their partner about issues relating to the union. Typical reasons for contesting include spousal maintenance, custody of young children, child support, and the division of assets such as property, vehicles, and other holdings. Debt payments are also grounds for contesting a divorce, especially if the couple shares joint bank accounts or credit cards.
If the divorce is uncontested and the couple subsequently agrees on everything related to their separation, proceedings are significantly faster. An uncontested divorce is also relatively inexpensive, as most law firms that specialize in divorce charge flat fees. If the dissolution is “hotly contested,” the attorneys charge the couple for factors such as multiple court meetings. An acrimonious divorce can also make it challenging for lawyers to determine cost estimates, in which case they may use a retainer. The attorneys bill against the retainer as the divorce proceeds, with the couple replenishing the retainer as needed until the marriage is dissolved.
There are times when the 60-day waiting period is waived, such in cases of domestic violence.
Do I need to prove grounds for divorce?
Some states require fault to grant divorces, meaning the individual filing for the dissolution must prove why they are ending their marriage. Texas is not among these states and therefore grants no-fault divorces where the party filing for the dissolution does not need to furnish evidence.
However, judges in divorce proceedings may require evidence of wrongdoing when dividing the couple’s assets. If a spouse feels they are entitled to more of the property because of gross wrongdoing on their partner’s part, they can include fault grounds in their filing. Common types of fault in divorce proceedings include:
- Cruel treatment, such as verbal, psychological, and physical abuse
- Abandonment for at least one year
- Mental hospital confinement for over three years
- Incarceration for over one year
- Estrangement, or living apart, for a minimum of three years
Other factors that contribute to lengthy divorce proceedings
How long a contested divorce takes depends on a variety of factors, such as how many properties the couple has. Any assets acquired during the marriage are considered “community property” in Texas and are therefore owned by both partners equally. So if a couple has three or more properties throughout the country or world that were acquired during the marriage, determining who gets what can be challenging, even if the divorce is otherwise amicable.
Other property that can be contested and subsequently contribute to lengthy divorce proceedings include assorted collections, such as fine art and antique car collections. Multiple modern vehicles can also be contested, as can anything else that was acquired during the union, such as a huge aquarium filled with rare and exotic fish. Factors that help judges in divorce cases divide community property include:
- The parties’ age differences
- Earning potential differences
- The parties’ health
- The total community property
- Separate property totals
- Expected inheritances, such as trusts
- The spending or selling of community property by one spouse
- Property holdings outside of the state
- Gifts from one spouse to the individual they committed adultery with
- Gifts from one spouse to the other
How child custody can affect the length of your divorce proceedings
Child custody issues often lengthen divorce proceedings. If the couple does not agree to joint custody or one partner getting sole custody, it can take weeks or longer to reach a decision. The judge in the case reviews factors that influence who should get custody, which often results in discussing unpleasant behavior and situations from the marriage.
For example, if one spouse desires full custody of the children on the grounds of the other spouse’s habitual drinking and erratic behavior, they must prove that their former partner is unfit. Evidence can include images of empty liquor bottles in the kitchen trash, videos of the spouse behaving erratically, and testimonies from friends and extended family members. Conversely, if both couples immediately agree to joint custody, they can move on and hopefully finalize their divorce within a few days.
If one spouse must pay child support, the breakdown for a San Antonio divorce is as follows:
- One child: 20% of the spouse’s net, not gross, income/resources
- Two children: 25% of the spouse’s net income
- Three children: 30% of the spouse’s net income
- Four children: 35%
- Five children: 40%
If you have waited for 60 days and it is time to move forward with your divorce, working with an attorney is recommended, especially if your spouse is contesting the dissolution. The team at Grable Grimshaw PLLC is here to help you navigate the proceedings with as little stress as possible. This multi-service firm in San Antonio provides unparalleled divorce assistance, which includes protecting your rights regarding child custody, debt and property divisions, alimony, and child support. Call our office today, or submit our contact form to request a free case evaluation or learn more about our divorce services.