What’s a Divorce Petition in Texas?
After verifying that you have met residency requirements, one of the first steps in filing for a divorce in Texas is completing the Original Petition for Divorce. The form, referred to as the petition, is your official request to have your marriage legally dissolved.
In the petition, you must include various information about your situation.
For instance, you must indicate:
- How long you and your spouse have lived in the state and the county you’re filing in;
- Requests for child custody, visitation, support, and medical insurance (if you have children);
- Whether you have or are seeking an order of protection against your spouse, or if they have or sought one against you;
- Marital and separate property.
Because the petition serves as the basis for final decisions concerning divorce-related issues, it’s crucial that you fill it out entirely and that all the information is correct. Inaccuracies can lead to delays. Therefore, having a family law attorney help prepare the form is beneficial and can ensure that your rights and best interests are protected.
How Long Does It Take to File a Petition for Divorce?
The actual filing of the petition for divorce does not take much time. You can either drop it off in person or submit it online, provided that your county accepts paperwork online.
What can take a substantial amount of time in the beginning stages of the divorce process is gathering the information you need to get everything started. As mentioned earlier, you must include a significant amount of information in your petition. Most of the details you may have to research, and some of them can take a lot of sorting out, such as determining what’s marital and what’s separate property.
Another factor affecting the time it takes to file a petition is the residency requirement. You must have lived in the county in which you are filing for divorce for at least 90 days. You must also have lived in Texas for at least 6 months. The Original Petition for Divorce explicitly states that you cannot file for a divorce in the state until you have met these requirements.
What Happens After I File the Petition?
When submitting your petition for divorce to the court, you must include three copies of the forms. The clerk stamps the documents and keeps one copy. The other two copies are for you and your spouse.
Unless your spouse waives this requirement, you must have them served with a copy of the divorce papers. Service can be done in several ways, and it must be completed before the matter can proceed.
After your spouse receives a copy of the divorce papers, they have the option of filing an answer. That means they can respond by saying that they agree or disagree with your requests. They have until the Monday following the 20th day after they have been served to answer.
Note that filing your divorce petition is just the first step in the process. It does not mean that your marriage has been dissolved. You must wait at least 60 days after filing before your divorce can be finalized.
What Happens If My Spouse Does Not Respond to the Divorce Petition?
Your spouse has the option, but they are not required to file an answer to the petition. If they do not respond, your case will be resolved through a default judgment.
A default judgment means that your spouse’s side of the story is not considered when final decisions are made concerning divorce-related issues. Essentially, the judge grants the requests you made in your petition, provided that they are within reason.
Where Do I Go for Help with My Texas Divorce?
Although you might find DIY divorce forms and information online, handling the matter on your own can be difficult, especially when going through an emotionally challenging time. Instead of doing this alone, turn to Goline & Roland Law Firm. Our Denton team has a breadth of experience and can provide the supportive guidance you need through every stage in the process.
To schedule a consultation with us, please call (940) 400-0475 or submit an online contact form today.