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Filing for Divorce

The first step in getting a divorce is filing your petition with the court. Divorce is a legal process, which means that you need to tell that court that you intend to end your marriage.

How to file for divorce

In order to file for divorce in the state of Texas, either you or your spouse needs to have lived in Texas for at least six months and in the county for 90 days. It is okay if only one spouse has lived in Texas, but your lawyer from Merchant Law Firm can help you understand any jurisdiction issues.

Filing for divorce begins with paying the filing fee and submitting the paperwork. If you aren’t able to afford the fee, can you file a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs, and the judge will likely waive the fee. When you file for divorce, you become the Petitioner, and your soon to be former spouse becomes the Respondent.

After you file for divorce

There are two parties to every divorce, the Petitioner, and the Respondent. The person filing the petition is the Petitioner, and the person being served is the Respondent. The Petition for Divorce is legally served to the Respondent after it is filed.

In situations where the Respondent is not easy to access – perhaps they are out of the country or have left town, and no one is able to locate them – other options make sure that the process is completed legally.

In most situations, the Respondent will be served with a Citation, the Petition for Divorce, and any other papers filed by the Petitioner and orders signed by the judge. Respondents can be served in person, by registered mail, by publication in a newspaper, or delivered to your work address.

After the Respondent has been served, they have about three weeks (the Monday after 20 days have passed) to file a response with the court. That means there is plenty of time to retain a lawyer.

After a Divorce is Filed

The Respondent needs to be legally served with the petition for divorce. Usually, this is simple. However, when it’s hard to find them, they can be served by registered mail, publication, or delivery to a work address. The Respondent has about three weeks to file their response – that means that if you have been served with divorce papers, you need to retain a lawyer as soon as possible.

As a Respondent, you have three options. You can file a response, a counter-petition for divorce, or do nothing. That means no one can force you to remain married if you want to be divorced. Doing nothing means that the Petitioner is able to finish the divorce without the input of the Respondent; it’s almost never the right choice, because it means that the Respondent has no choice in decisions about child custody or assets.

You want to have a choice in those decisions, because divorce can be very complicated. During marriage, you probably have acquired assets such as a home or retirement accounts. You might have had children together. When you divorce, you need to determine how those assets will be divided going forward. Even more importantly, you need to come up with a plan for child support and child custody that is in the best interests of your children.

Filing for divorce is only the first legal step in a long legal process. Most people don’t have much experience working within the legal system before going through a divorce, which means that they have to learn how to navigate a confusing bureaucracy for the first time at the same time as going through an extremely difficult emotional upheaval. That’s why you want a great lawyer on your team, someone who can help you understand every twist and turn of the legal process. If you are looking for someone who can help you navigate your divorce and ensure that you get a good deal so that you can move forward in your life. Give us a call today, so we can help you get off to a good start from the first filing.