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First Step to Filing for Divorce

Divorces come in many shapes and sizes in Texas. No two divorces are exactly alike, but they all start the same way—by filing an Original Petition for Divorce in the proper court. The divorce process must begin with an Original Petition being filed, a Court does not have the jurisdiction to grant a divorce until a divorce suit has the proper procedural foundation.

Of course, there are many steps you can take before filing your paperwork, depending on your goals and the realities of your marriage. It’s hard to generalize  a “first step” everyone contemplating divorce should take. Instead, our Houston divorce lawyers identify two “first steps” you should consider taking—and one you should definitely avoid.

Possible First Step: Discuss Divorce with Your Spouse

Not every divorce has to be a drawn out endeavor or some years’ long battle more appropriate for a Lifetime movie. Instead, you and your spouse can amicably draw up the terms of your divorce, deciding such issues as child custody, child support, spousal support, and the division of your community property. If you come up with a solid agreement, you can file an Agreed Final Decree of Divorce that reflects all of the agreements with the Court. This type of uncontested divorce is less stressful, faster, and less costly.

To see whether your spouse agrees, you need to broach the issue of a divorce. Oftentimes a marriage has been struggling for years and a divorce discussion is no surprise. If not, find a quiet time away from the kids to talk about why you want to end the marriage.

Are you required to talk this over with your spouse? No. You can file for divorce without your spouse’s permission or agreement. But again, an uncontested divorce has many advantages, and it can be less painful and costly in the long run if you attempt an informal settlement discussion first.

Better First Step: Meet with a Houston Divorce Attorney

We strongly encourage men and women to hire a divorce lawyer. Yes, this a do-it-yourself culture, and there are plenty of legal aid resources online to help people file for divorce themselves. The problem is what we mentioned above: no two divorces are the same, and cookie-cutter approaches just don’t work for many people.

For some, meeting with a Houston divorce lawyer is an appropriate first step—even before discussing divorce with their spouse. You need to know what your rights are in the event you do file. For example, do you know what community property you are entitled to? What debts could you be saddled with? How much time with your child can you have? These are issues to discuss with an attorney.

You also need to consider whether you can even file for divorce in Texas. You must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing and lived in your county for at least 90 days. If you don’t satisfy these requirements, you must wait.

The best part about meeting with a lawyer? You will receive advice tailored to your situation.

What You Shouldn’t Do: Rush Out & File a Petition

Divorce requires planning. Yes, filing a petition in court kickstarts the divorce process, but it really isn’t an appropriate first step. You might forget to request something (such as a request for temporary orders or spousal support), or you might need to acquire evidence to support a custody battle that your spouse will hide once he or she knows you are seeking a divorce.

For this reason, we encourage everyone considering divorce to reach out to Ramos Law Group, PLLC today. Our team will happily meet for a confidential consultation.

Last Updated on May 23, 2023 by Mary E. Ramos

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Mary E. Ramos

Mary E. Ramos is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She is recognized and respected throughout the Houston legal community for dedication in effectively representing clients’ rights and interests. Mary understands the emotional side of divorce and brings a special compassion to each and every case.

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