Original Petition For Divorce in Texas
What Is an Original Petition for Divorce?
If you want to get divorced in Texas, either you or your spouse will have to file what is called an “Original Petition for Divorce” to formally begin the process. This Original Petition for Divorce is extremely important as it will tell the court what you are asking for in your divorce and begin the required 60 day waiting period.
If your spouse and you are in agreement with the divorce and expect the divorce to be resolved amicably, drafting and filing the Original Petition for Divorce is a much simpler process than if the divorce is contested.
However, it might be in your best interest to speak with a lawyer if any of the following are true:
- Your case is contested.
- You are afraid for your safety or your children’s safety.
- Your spouse has a lawyer already.
- You or your spouse have a house, retirement, business, other valuable property or a lot of debt.
- You need spousal maintenance (alimony).
- You and your spouse have a child with a disability.
- You or your spouse have an ongoing bankruptcy or are planning to file for bankruptcy.
- You are in a same sex-marriage and have a child that one of you did not legally adopt.
Where Do I File an Original Petition for Divorce?
The county you must file your Petition depends on a number of factors. If you and your spouse both live in the same county, you may file in that county. If you and your spouse are not in the same county, have recently moved to Texas, or have recently moved to the county, it gets a little bit more complicated.
To get a Texas divorce, either you or your spouse must have lived:
- in the state for six months before filing, and
- in the county where you plan to file for the previous 90 days
What Must Be in the Original Petition for Divorce?
The structure of the Original Petition for Divorce depends on whether you have children and property in your divorce, whether your divorce will be contested or uncontested, and a few other important details. You should hire an attorney if you expect to have a contested divorce and need to ask for specific requests.
First, the Petition will have a case style which must set out who the parties are, what county you are filing in, and the names of the children. The Petition will also set out a number of other important details such as:
- The date of your marriage
- The date of your separation
- The grounds for your divorce
- The names and ages of your children
- The requested custody of the children
- The requested child support
- The request for the property division
The Original Petition for Divorce is supposed to be a very basic document. It is unnecessary to put too many details into it as you will be more detailed in the Final Decree of Divorce which finalizes the divorce. However, you must have certain of the above requirements to even proceed with the divorce. It is imperative you at least have an attorney review your divorce petition before filing it with the court.
How Do I File an Original Petition for Divorce?
Once you have determined where to file for your divorce and drafted an original petition, you must then either e-file your petition and pay the filing fees or file it in person with the clerk. If you are serving your spouse, you will have additional fees.
My Spouse and I Have an Uncontested Divorce, Can We Jointly File the Petition?
No. Unfortunately only one person can be the “Petitioner.” The other spouse will be the “Respondent.”
Do I Have to Serve My Spouse With the Petition?
No—but only if you and your spouse agree and your spouse waives service by signing a Waiver of Service. Otherwise, you must have where to serve your spouse. Service or a waiver of service is necessary in order for you to finalize your divorce.
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