In order to obtain a divorce in Texas, the married couple must have been Texas residents for at least six months immediately before the divorce is initiated, and they must be residents of their particular Texas county for at least ninety days prior to the initiation. Provided that these conditions are fulfilled, then one of the partners may file for divorce. The spouse who files the petition for divorce is called the petitioner, and the other spouse is known as the respondent.
While filling out the divorce petition, some petitioners include specific grounds for divorce. In this way, they may gain a strategic advantage. However, it is important to note that including details in this portion of the petition is not advantageous but can actually work against the petitioner.
Once the divorce petition is completed in a thorough and accurate way, petitioners may submit it, along with two copies and a filing fee, to the District Clerk’s office. Subsequently, one of the returned copies should be earmarked for the respondent. The petitioner may notify the respondent personally, in which case the respondent must sign a Waiver of Service, or the petitioner may employ a county constable or professional process server to officially serve the respondent with the divorce papers. Upon reception of the petition for divorce, the respondent has until the Monday after twenty days have passed to file an answer or a counter-petition.
Filing for a divorce is only the first of many steps that spouses must take in order to dissolve their marriage. These steps may become complicated, highly contentious and difficult to navigate at times. That is why retaining a family law attorney is critical. Besides helping spouses file the necessary paperwork, the attorney may guide them through the entire divorce process.
Source: State Bar of Texas, “Pro Se Divorce Handbook“, October 21, 2014