Steps for Filing for Divorce in Texas

1. Petition:

divorce in texasAfter you hire a divorce attorney, the first step taken to initiate a divorce in Texas is the filing of a Original Petition for Divorce. This petition is a simple document that names the husband and wife and any children of the marriage and states that one of the parties (the Petitioner), is seeking a divorce and the reason for the divorce (the grounds). The petition may also state some of the things that the Petitioner may ask the court to decide, such as a division of property, orders providing for the children, and attorney’s fees. When the Petition is filed the Petitioner must pay a filing fee to the court or usually around $260. The filing of the Petition begins the 60-day waiting period, but it is not a court order and does not establish anything legally. It is merely a statement by the Petitioner that he/she wishes to have the marriage dissolved.

2. Grounds:

The most common ground for divorce in Texas is “insupportability”. This is also known as a no-fault divorce allegation and is specifically stated in the petition as “the marriage has become insupportable because of personality conflicts which have destroyed the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship”. In some states this is referred to as “irreconcilable differences”. Texas law also provides as possible grounds incurable insanity, living apart for three years, adultery, cruelty, abandonment, and conviction of a felony. These other grounds are rarely used, but, if these apply to your case, you should let your attorney know.

3. Residency:

In order to file for divorce in Texas, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for a period of at least six months and lived in the county where you are filing (i.e. Travis, Williamson or Hays County) for at least ninety consecutive days immediately prior to filing the Petition.

4. Service on the Respondent:

The court must have some evidence that the other spouse (the Respondent) has received a copy of the petition and knows that a divorce lawsuit is actively pending. One way to provide this evidence is for the Respondent to file a Waiver or an Answer. The Waiver states that the Respondent has received a copy of the Petition. It is voluntarily signed by the Respondent in front of a notary public and then filed with the Court. If you are asked to sign a Waiver by your spouse or your spouse’s lawyer, do not do so without first consulting your own attorney. It may contain additional language that can negatively affect your rights in the divorce. The Respondent may instead file an Answer, usually prepared by their attorney, the thereby enter their appearance in the case.

If the Respondent does not file a Waiver or an Answer, the Petitioner must arrange for a constable or private process server to hand a copy of the Petition to the spouse. This method is called service of process or service of citation. After serving the petition the constable or private process server returns the citation to the courthouse, where it is filed and establishes proof that the Respondent has received a copy of the Petition. This method costs the Petitioner a service fee of approximately $70 and may potentially embarrass the Respondent. Once served, the Respondent will be obligated to file an Answer with the court within a set period of time.

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