The First Step in the Process
When you make the decision to end your marriage through divorce, you have to officially start the process by filing for divorce. This process has a few steps and requirements that must be met, and if you are unfamiliar with this procedure then you might be confused looking at the steps. Here is what you should know about filing for divorce in Texas.
In order to file for divorce in Texas, you must first meet the state’s residency requirements. Either you or your spouse must have lived in Texas for at least 6 months prior to filing for divorce. In addition, either you or your spouse must be a resident of the county in which you are filing for divorce and must have lived there for at least 90 days prior to filing.
When filing for divorce, there are several important papers that you will need to put together. These items include the following:
Original petition for divorce.
Decree of divorce.
Notice of service of process.
When you file for divorce, you may also file for a Temporary Restraining Order that prohibits both you and your spouse from doing anything that might diminish any property that both parties have the rights to.
Serving the Papers
After filing the paperwork with your appropriate county, the other party in the divorce must be notified of the divorce through an official Service of Process. In other words, your spouse must be officially notified of the divorce and cannot simply be handed the paperwork by you.
Depending on if your spouse is agreeable to the divorce or not, your spouse may sign a waiver of service acknowledging that they are aware of the filing and have received copies of the initial filing. Otherwise, your attorney can guide you on how best to proceed with this, whether through a local sheriff’s office or a private process server.
Your spouse can decide whether or not they want to file an answer to the divorce (should they want to actively participate in the case or contest the divorce). By choosing not to file an answer, this does allow you to request a default judgment which will allow the court to grant the divorce regardless of your spouse’s level of participation.
Necessary Financial Disclosures
Because of the complex nature of property division and the need to uphold Texas’ equitable distribution law, each party in a divorce should plan on submitting a Sworn Inventory and Appraisement that details their assets such as bank accounts, real estate, retirement accounts, and other simple and complex assets.
An Overview of the Process
After these steps have been completed, you and your spouse (along with your attorneys) may attempt to reach a settlement agreement without having to resort to the court deciding matters for you. These matters are common among many divorces and include the following items:
Child custody (called conservatorship in Texas).
Child support payments.
Spousal support/alimony (depending on the unique circumstances of the case).
It is very common for a divorce to result in a settlement agreement; however, in the event that you and your spouse are unable to come to terms on these matters, court hearings will likely be held and the judge presiding over your case will decide these for you based on your arguments and evidence.
The Necessity of a Divorce Attorney
Divorce can be a complex process with many intricacies that require an attention to detail and a deep knowledge of the legal system. Because of this, it’s important that you work with a divorce attorney throughout your case to not only have proper representation in court but to protect your best interests. A divorce attorney skilled in negotiation and knowledgeable in all divorce matters can give you an edge in the process and lead to a favorable outcome.
At Jeff Gilbert Law Office, we know that getting a divorce is a big decision to make. We are here to help guide you throughout each step of the process as you prepare for the next big chapter of your life.
To schedule a consultation with a member of our team or to get your questions about divorce answered, call us at (979) 200-6556 or visit us online.