If you live in Texas and are thinking about filing for a divorce, you most likely have a lot of questions. A lot of people are unfamiliar with how to file for a divorce in the State of Texas until they find themselves in the middle of one. This is some general information concerning how a Texas divorce process works so you can move forward with yours. This information is not intended as direct legal advice. It is almost never a good idea to file for divorce without an attorney. There are many, many rules of procedure and evidence that must be followed.
Requirements and Reasons for a Divorce in Texas
As a Texas resident filing for divorce, at least one spouse has to have lived in the state for six months or longer and in the same county for at least ninety days. This requirement is found under Texas Family Law code 6.301.
Texas divorces can be filed as either fault-based or no-fault. Fault-based divorces are becoming rare as it requires one spouse to prove the other committed wrongdoing that resulted in the divorce.
A no-fault divorce allows both spouses to go forward with the divorce process without assigning blame on each other. In these cases, both spouses state the marriage has become insupportable due to personality conflicts. This requirement is found under Texas Family Law code 6.001-6.007.
Spouses can file for divorce in Texas based on several fault grounds including:
* Felony conviction
* Confinement in a mental institution
* Cruel treatment
* Abandonment for at least one year
How to Prepare for a Texas Divorce
There are several forms you must file to begin a divorce in Texas. The Texas Supreme Court has a uniform list of domestic relations forms. Contact the clerk of your county as some counties prefer their local forms. The minimum initial filing has to include:
* Original Petition for Divorce
* Citation or Waiver of Citation
* Filing Your Divorce Forms
Once you have gathered all the necessary forms, you have to file them with the appropriate county. Texas law also allows you to ask the court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent either of you from hiding, selling, or diminishing any of the marital property.
This restraining order can also prevent each spouse from threatening the other spouse or hiding a child. If a Temporary Restraining Order is granted, it is only good for fourteen days and the court must have a hearing take place within those fourteen days in order to make the temporary restraining order a temporary injunction while the divorce case is ongoing. If there is no hearing, the Temporary Restraining just ends at the end of fourteen days.
Serving Your Divorce Forms
Under the laws of Texas, you have to notify your spouse that you filed for divorce. This notification process is formally called the Service of Process and involves delivering copies of the documents about the divorce to the non-filing spouse. Texas allows several methods of this service including:
* Constable or sheriff service
* Waiver of Citation
* Service by publication
* Process server
If your spouse is relatively cordial toward the proceedings, you can ask them to waive the service requirement. If they agree to waive service, your spouse has to sign a form stating they received the copies of the initial divorce filing. This can avoid embarrassing the other spouse by not having them served with papers at home or work in front of other people.
When a Waiver of Citation will not be signed by the other spouse, the Petitioner will choose the sheriff’s office or a private process server to deliver the documents. The sheriff option is usually more expensive and sometimes takes longer.
If you are unsure of how to contact your spouse. Texas law can allow for service by publication. This service is typically quite expensive and requires Court approval. You will have to show why you can’t have the person served by personal service and why service by publication will give proper notice to the other spouse. This is rare in divorce cases. This process is found under Texas Family Law code 6.409.
Recently, there was a change in the law requiring both spouses to provide certain information and documents to the other spouse within 30 days. This is the amended Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 194. Within 30 days after the other spouse files an Answer or a Waiver of Citation is filed, both parties must produce a copy or description by category and location of all documents, electronically stored information, and tangible things that the responding party has in its possession, custody, and control that the party may use to support its claims or defenses. This includes all documents pertaining to real estate, relating to any pension, retirement profit sharing or other employee benefit plan (including the most recent account statement,) all documents pertaining to any life, casualty, liability and health insurance policies, and the most recent statement pertaining to all accounts held at any financial institution, including banks, savings and loans institutions, credit unions and brokerage firms. When the case involves any children, the parties must also provide a copy of all policies, statements, and the summary description of any medical and health insurance benefit that is or would be available for the child or the spouse; the party’s income tax returns for the previous two years or, if no return has been filed, the party’s Form W-2, Form 1099 and Schedule K-1 for such years along with the party’s two most recent payroll check stubs. This is a lot, but it is required under the new law.