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A guide to important terms related to divorces in Texas

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2021 | Divorce |

Going through a divorce can be a disorienting and destabilizing experience. There are so many things to consider, such as property division, child custody and spousal support. During this emotionally draining chapter of your life, navigating legal jargon can add frustration

Entering into the world divorce brings a whirlwind of legal terms. Those that don’t have a background in law may find this new vocabulary confusing. Additionally, Texas has its own way of doing things when it comes to divorce. 

A glossary of terms you should know

Here are some of the most essential terms to know when navigating  a Texas divorce:

  • Agreed divorce: When both spouses in a Texas divorce agree to all the terms and conditions and are ready to sign.
  • Community property state: Texas is one of the few states that still follow the community property rule. This implies that most assets obtained throughout marriage can be split in a divorce. Assets owned before the wedding are typically excluded from the divorce proceedings.
  • Conservatorship: In Texas, what people commonly call “custody” of a child is called “conservatorship” instead (and visitation is called “access”).
  • Default divorce: When one spouse doesn’t respond to the divorce petition, doesn’t sign and doesn’t appear in court, the divorce can be granted by default.
  • Dissolution of marriage: Texas uses this term to mean ending a marriage through divorce or annulment.
  • Managing conservator: This is what is sometimes called “legal custody” of a child. It involves the right to make important decisions on a child’s behalf about medical care, education and more. It can be granted solely to one parent or jointly shared.
  • Petitioner: This is the legal term that refers to the spouse that started the legal divorce process.
  • Possessory conservator: The parent that has physical custody of a child. Possessory conservatorship can be shared or granted solely to one parent.
  • Respondent: This is the legal term that refers to the person who is being divorced by their spouse.
  • Uncontested divorce: When there are no disagreements from either spouse about the terms of the divorce. Technically, this can be an agreed divorce or a default divorce. 

There is a seemingly endless list of legal terms you may need to know, but the above is a good place to start. A divorce can be a difficult and trying time for many people but experienced guidance can help you through.