Your Texas Divorce Petition Can Expire

Paper reading "petition to file for divorce"

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If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that life is unpredictable. That divorce that seemed urgent several months ago may not be the pressing matter it once was. While it does not happen often, some couples lose their drive to divorce, and they have questions about whether or not their original divorce petition ever expires. Regardless of what your divorce concerns and questions are, an experienced Fort Hood divorce attorney can help. (Even the Simplest Divorce Can Benefit from an Experienced Divorce Attorney)

The Divorce Petition

The divorce petition (officially called the Original Petition for Divorce) is the legal document that must be filed in order to begin a divorce proceeding. This document will lay out information that includes the following:

  • You and your spouse’s personal information, including Texas residency

  • The date of your marriage

  • The names and birthdays of any children you share (Related reading: Myths about Co-Parenting: What You Need to Know)

  • The grounds for your divorce

  • Marital assets and separate property

  • If a protective order is also required

Either of you can file, and while the person who files becomes the petitioner and the other spouse becomes the respondent, this generally has little bearing on the divorce proceedings.


The petitioner either has the divorce petition served to the respondent (unless both parties agree to and have a Waiver of Service notarized. This service includes:

  • The divorce petition described above

  • The citation, which is a summons to appear in court

  • Any additional paperwork that the petitioner included as supporting evidence with the divorce petition

The Cooling Down Period

In the State of Texas, there is what is known as a 60-day cooling-off period. In the 60 days after filing, the judge who presides over the case must refrain from finalizing the divorce – even if you and your divorcing spouse are both in agreement about the terms.

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The Response

The respondent has about 21 days (until 10 AM on the Monday that follows the passage of 20 days from the date of service) to respond to his or her service of the divorce papers. If the respondent fails to respond, the petitioner can request that the court hand down a default judgment in the respondent’s absence.

Can the Divorce Petition Expire?

Yes, in the State of Texas, your divorce petition – or any family law matter – can technically expire. If, for example, you file for divorce, your spouse fails to respond, and you fail to follow up on the matter, the judge has the right to dismiss the divorce filing – typically after a considerable amount of time in which neither party makes a move – and allow the petition to expire in what is known as a dismissal for want of prosecution (DWOP). At this point, any movement forward toward divorce will require a new divorce petition.

Turn to an Experienced Fort Hood Divorce Attorney for the Legal Guidance You Are Looking For

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Fort Hood, Texas, is a trusted divorce attorney who understands the unique nature of your divorce concerns and is here to help you find the right answers for you. To learn more, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today. (Curious on who pays attorney fees in a Texas divorce? Click here to read more about this)


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