If you're planning to file for divorce in Texas without an attorney, you need to familiarize yourself with state procedural rules. Texas allows you to file on no-fault grounds -- if your spouse doesn’t contest the divorce, the process is straightforward. However, if you’re unable to reach an agreement with your spouse outside of court, you should consider hiring an attorney since the legal complexity of your divorce will increase.
Locate the court that has jurisdiction over your divorce proceedings. You must commence the divorce proceedings at the family court in the county where you or your spouse has lived for at least 90 days prior to the filing of the divorce petition. However, you or your spouse must also reside in Texas for at least six months prior to filing the petition for the state to have jurisdiction.
Prepare a petition for divorce to file with the court. You must draft an original petition that states your grounds for divorce, identifies your children, marital property and personal information for you and your spouse, who you identify in the document as the “Respondent.” File the original petition and two copies with the District Clerk’s office in your county and pay the appropriate fee. You can either hand deliver or mail the petition.
Notify your spouse of the petition’s filing. Texas law requires that you notify your spouse by either hiring a process server to hand deliver a copy of the petition or by obtaining a waiver of citation. A waiver of citation allows the Respondent to confirm receipt of the divorce petition through other means, which eliminates your obligation to provide the court with a process server’s affidavit confirming delivery of the petition.
Agree on the terms of the divorce with your spouse during the waiting period. Texas law requires judges to wait at least 60 days from the date you file the petition before intervening. During this time, you should meet with your spouse to work out a final agreement on issues such as splitting marital property, alimony, child custody and support and all other issues that can potentially delay the divorce proceedings and require judicial intervention.
Prepare the “Final Decree of Divorce.” Draft a document to memorialize the agreements you and your spouse reach during the waiting period. Confirm with the court’s administrator whether a preliminary review of the decree by the court is necessary prior to meeting with the judge.
Schedule a final hearing to complete the divorce process. Contact the district clerk’s office in the relevant family court to schedule your hearing before a judge. If you and your spouse are in agreement on all issues, the hearing can be as quick as answering a number of questions followed by the judge signing the decree.
The State Bar of Texas provides examples of Texas divorce petitions that you can reference when drafting your own, as well as contact information for all county courts in Texas.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images