How to File for Divorce
While the emotional process of divorcing may have begun quite some time ago, the legal process of divorce begins with filing a Petition for Divorce.
Filing for divorce in Texas
The person making the request must pay a filing fee, the amount of which varies by county. Should that fee exceed budget constraints, individuals can file a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Courts Costs in hopes the court will waive the fee.
In Texas, the individual filing must have lived in the state for six months and be a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90-day period. Both parties do not need to meet these criteria. If one lives elsewhere or is in the military, for example, the other must fulfill these requirements.
The person filing for divorce is the Petitioner. The spouse is the Respondent. The petition will be served on the respondent after it’s filed.
The respondent will then have the option of filing either an answer or counter-petition or doing nothing. If no response is given, the petitioner has the right to complete proceedings without the respondent’s input.
What to expect
Most cases will begin with discovery, during which lawyers work with their clients to compile necessary information. Then the divorce can be either contested or uncontested.
An uncontested divorce is usually simpler, easier and more affordable for both partners. Uncontested does not mean the parties are not in agreement but rather that they have been able to come to a mutual understanding and resolution without needing to involve the court.
A contested divorce means the court must work out the divorce’s terms. Sharing complicated assets, such as a joint business, or failing to reach an agreement regarding children’s custody can often lead to a contested divorce. Usually a judge will render the verdict, but in rare cases circumstances may necessitate a jury trial.
Either way, be sure to have an ethical, compassionate lawyer who can assist in making choices that will suit for both the short and long term and finalize a divorce in a deserving fashion.
Alternatives to divorce
Marriages can sometimes be annulled, making the union invalid from its origins. A marriage can be annulled if one of the spouses was under age 18, already married, unable to consent or had concealed a prior divorce. If one gets an annulment, the marriage was never legal.
Regardless of an individual’s current relationship status with his or her spouse or the expectation’s one has for divorce proceedings, it is important that the chosen lawyer be a trusted and capable ally. Call today to learn how our firm can help.