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What is a Divorce Decree?

In Texas, there needs to be a “final divorce decree” filed and signed by a judge in order for your divorce to be final. It is important to note that a divorce cannot be finalized until 60 days from the filing of the Original Petition for Divorce is filed and accepted by the court.

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What is in a Divorce Decree?

The divorce decree is usually a lengthy document containing a number of sections and clauses regarding:

Residency Requirement

In Texas, you or your spouse must reside in the county your divorce was filed in for at least 90 days before the filing and the state of Texas at least 6 months before filing.

Grounds for Divorce

Texas is a no-fault state meaning you and your spouse can get divorce without any reason besides the default reason of “insupportability.” Insupportability merely means both parties want a divorce and no other reason exists for the divorce.

However, a court may order different grounds for divorce if a party requests such or both parties agree. Other grounds for divorce include adultery, cruelty, felony conviction and abandonment.

Children of the Marriage

If there are children born during the marriage or, alternatively, children born before the marriage that belong to both spouses, you must list them in this section. If paternity is at issue, you should speak to an attorney about additional language and steps you will need to take in order for the court to sign the final decree of divorce.

If there are no children of the marriage or of the parties, you must make sure to include that language in this section.

Parenting Plan and Child Support

If there is a need for language regarding children, there will be a section which describes the conservatorship, the allocation of rights and duties, and the possession and access schedule.

This is also where you may list the terms of health insurance, any geographic restrictions, and child support.

Property and Debts

All divorce decrees must have some language dividing the marital property and debts. This can be done in a short form with general language allowing each to keep their own accounts, retirements, and property or it can be much more detailed.

Tax Language

Some decrees can have language specifying how the taxes will be filed and any returns divided.

Spousal Support

If you and your spouse agree to some sort of spousal support or the court has ordered spousal support, you must lay out the specific terms in your final decree of divorce.

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Divorce Decree FAQs

How Do I Get My Final Decree Signed by the Court?

Once the final decree has been agreed to and signed, you must prove up your decree in front of a judge. Some courts allow this to be done through an affidavit. Others require you to set a time with the court to come in. A “prove-up” is merely you or your spouse testifying under oath that the terms of the divorce are captured in the final decree of divorce. Once the judge approves and signs the final decree, you and your spouse are officially divorced.

Can a Texas Final Decree of Divorce be Modified?

A Texas Final Decree of Divorce is a court order. If you do not follow the terms of your decree, you could find yourself back in court facing repercussions. If you believe you need to change the terms of your divorce decree due to changed circumstances, you should consult with an attorney as many provisions in the final decree cannot be altered or modified.

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