You do not need the confusion of a complex legal process when you are dealing with an emotional situation such as a divorce. It is helpful to know all the steps beforehand, but a divorce lawyer can walk you through it in person.
The first step you will need to take to file a divorce in Texas is to fill out a Petition for Divorce informing the judge and your spouse you wish to divorce. You should make at least two copies of this completed Petition.
Taking the original with the two copies to the courthouse, you should file the papers with the District Clerk’s Office. You will need to pay a fee of between $250 and $300 to file your Petition. You can file an Affidavit of Inability to Pay Costs if you unable to pay. The clerk will stamp and date your papers once filed before assigned a case number and judicial district. The clerk will then return the two copies of your Petition, one of which is to be given to your spouse.
Your next step is to give “legal notice” to the court that you have informed your spouse of your intent to divorce them.
This can be done in three ways:
- Waiver of Service—giving your spouse a file-stamped copy of the original Petition and a Waiver of Citation that they sign before a notary
- Official service in person or by mail—having a process server give notice in person or by mail and filling out a Return of Service form after stating when are where your spouse was served
- Official Service by Publication or Posting—to be used when your spouse cannot be found and you have shown the judge you have tried to contact them
Typically, you will need to wait 61 days from the date you filed the Petition before the divorce can be finalized. You can request it take longer, but 61 days in the minimum waiting period. This waiting period can be waived in some cases of domestic violence.
Contested or uncontested divorce?
Next, determine if your divorce is contested or uncontested; that is, if you and your spouse can agree to the terms of the divorce. You can find out when your county court will hear an uncontested divorce by calling the District Clerk’s Office.
Then you will need to fill out a Decree of Divorce establishing the terms of your divorce which is signed by the judge. This can include decisions regarding any children and spousal support. Your spouse will also sign the Final Decree of Divorce.
Finally, you will go to court bringing with you all relevant paperwork at the end of which you will take your paperwork back to the clerk’s office once it is signed by the judge. After these are filed with the Information on Suit Affecting the Family Relationship form, your divorce is finalized.
Turn to the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to help you with each stage of this process by calling us.