September 9th, 2020 - Introduction to Divorce in Texas
The process of going through divorce is hard enough, but you do not have to do it alone. Porter Legal Group is here to help you with your divorce, whether it is a simple divorce or a divorce that involves kids and properties. So, give us a call at (972) 400-2177 or come in for a free consult, we are located at 2929 N. Central Expy. Suite 125, Richardson, Tx 75080. Most people will have many questions regarding whether they can file a divorce case in Texas, how to begin a divorce, and the general process. This blog will try and answer those simple concerns that you may have in a divorce proceeding.
This blog will serve as a quick intro into the divorce process. Regardless, whether you are attempting to start a divorce, have initiated a divorce, or are served with a divorce, you will more than likely need an attorney, especially if kids or property are involved. Come talk to us about your divorce issues and let us help you get what is owed to you!
Jurisdiction by a Texas Court Over a Divorce:
To file a divorce in Texas a court must ensure that a court has the jurisdiction, the power, to hear your divorce case. Two things must be established before a Texas court can have jurisdiction over a divorce. First, one of the spouses must have lived in Texas at least six months before filing for divorce. Second, the filing spouse must file a divorce case in the county in which the spouse in Texas has lived in for more than 90 days. If you do not meet the jurisdiction requirements, then you must either file in another state where a court has jurisdiction over your divorce or wait until a Texas court can exercise jurisdiction over your divorce.
Beginning the Divorce Process:
Once you establish that a Texas court can hear your divorce case, you may begin the divorce proceeding. To begin a divorce proceeding the first thing that must occur is the filing of the Original Petition for Divorce or “Petition.” The Petition is where a spouse seeking the divorce, also known as the petitioner, asks for the dissolution of the marriage. Further, it is where a petitioner may request their relief, which may include division of property, payments of debts, child support, custody, and/or spousal maintenance.
Notifying the Other Spouse:
The petitioner must always notify the other spouse of a pending divorce once the Petition has been submitted to the court. The responding spouse who a divorce is sought from is known as the Respondent. Under Texas law, notification of divorce is needed, which is referred to as service of process. There are three ways to notify a spouse of a divorce, all of which vary depending on the situation.
One way to satisfy service of process is to hire a process server or a county constable to personally serve, or deliver, the spouse with the citation, which is the formal notice of the divorce petition prepared by the court. This is the most common way in which someone is notified of a divorce. This is easiest accomplished when the location of the spouse is known, such as a home or work address. This process does have a fee associated with it.
Another way to serve the spouse is by publication or posting, which is done after a diligent search and the inability to locate the spouse. This is the best option for a person who is unable to locate their spouse because they are simply unaware of the spouse’s location. This process requires actions from the court and has court fees associated with it.
Finally, the third way to serve a spouse with the divorce is through waiver of service. This is where the responding spouse signs a waiver and agrees to be served the petition. This step simply requires a signed waiver by the spouse and the notarization of the waiver. This process typically does not have a fee associated it with.
Responding to a Divorce Petition:
Once the spouse has been served with the citation and petition of divorce, via one of the ways listed above, they must file an Answer, which is a response to the allegations in the Petition. The responding spouse must file an Answer the next Monday following the expiration of 20 days after service of process. In practice, the deadline to respond can be found by counting 20 days (including weekends and holidays) after the day of service then going to the next Monday. The Answer must be filed by 10:00 a.m. on the deadline day. If the 20th day falls on a Monday, then the deadline to answer is the following Monday. If the courts are closed on the day the Answer is due, then the Answer is due the next day the courts are open.
Length of a Divorce:
The most common questions is, “how long will a divorce take?” The answer varies from situation to situation. A court can only grant a divorce after the divorce Petition has been pending for 60 days. Thus, once the petition has been submitted, the absolute earliest a divorce can be granted is 61 days after the filing of the petition. This waiting period is referred to as the “cool-down” period. The purpose of the wait period is two-fold. First, the wait is to account for the possibility of reconciliation between the spouses. Second, it allows time for the spouses to come to a mutual agreement regarding property or custody of children.
Most divorces will take longer to finalize than just 61 days. Divorces that involve property and children can take well over a few months to finalize. The reason being is because of the complexities and disputes that come with both the division of property and custody of children.
As you can see the process of divorce can be complicated. We went over a court’s jurisdiction over a divorce case, initiating and responding to a divorce case, and the length of a divorce case. However, this is merely a quick overview on a divorce case. There are more steps and complexities involved in a divorce case in Texas that we will go over in future blog posts. If you find yourself in a divorce proceeding or expect one, then you may need more than a quick overview. If this is the case, give us a call and we can assist you in all your divorce issues! Again, feel free to give us a call at (972) 400-2177 or come in for a free consult, we are located at 2929 N. Central Expy. Suite 125, Richardson, Tx 75080