Filing for divorce in Texas can be a complicated process in most cases requires the assistance of a divorce lawyer in Texas to avoid common missteps and to assure that all issues are appropriately addressed in the final contract also known as the final divorce decree. That said, filing an agreed divorce with minimal assets and no children isn’t very complicated but can have some pitfalls if you don’t know the law. In this article, we while touch at a high level how to file a divorce in Texas but by no means should you use this guide as a full reference as all cases are different and not all details are included.
1 – Determine if you have jurisdiction to file in your local county
The general rule of thumb to determine if there is jurisdiction to file in Texas and the county in question is at least one spouse must have been a domiciliary of Texas for the preceding six month period and a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90 day period.
2 – Draft the original petition for divorce
While there are many samples online make sure you choose one that is accepted by the family court in your county. When preparing the petition for divorce which will include the grounds for divorce which by default should be “no fault” to avoid further complicating the case. The original petition is a document that asks the court to grant the divorce, identifies assets, children and all parties. To file the original petition, you must pay the corresponding fee, which is set by the county that has jurisdiction over your case. Every court and county is different, but in most cases, you can mail the petition along with the required fee or file the paperwork in person.
3 – Serve the other party with the filed petition or have them sign a waiver of service.
In Texas, you must provide the court proof of notifying the other party via a 3rd party process server or by asking your spouse to sign a waiver of service. In an agreed case, the best way to go is the waiver of service route as it not only saves on the cost of the process server but also speeds up the process.
4 – Agree on all aspects of the divorce
Achieving an agreement in a divorce case can be one of the most challenging parts of the entire process. You must decide on how to divide all of the assets including the house, retirement accounts, and items other items as small as the lawnmower. Additionally, child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance are some of the sticky points of finalizing an agreement. If all goes well, you can conclude your divorce as early as the 61st day from the day of filing the original petition for divorce.
5 – Drafting the final paperwork
To finalize any agreement achieved in step 4, you must document all the previously discussed areas in the proper format within the final divorce decree and provide it to the other side for review.
Remember, there are many online samples, but courts may not accept it if the drafted document was produced by an unlicensed individual as it may be considered the unauthorized practice of law.
6. Prove up the final order
To make the divorce official both parties must sign the final divorce decree, you must prove up the decree in front of the judge, and finally, the judge must grant the divorce and sign the final order. To prove up the final order, you must schedule a prove up date with the family court, in which your case was placed in or know the court’s procedure and be prepared to state on the record who you are and that you are in agreement with all the terms within the final divorce decree.
Learning how to file a divorce in Texas is not rocket science, but if you screw one thing up, it can take months to correct and finalize the process. Keep in mind that the courts nor the staff will help you with your paperwork.