So you want a divorce. But how does one even go about starting divorce proceedings? Who initiates it? How do you file for a divorce? The purpose of this article is to discuss most basic documents that are filed in a divorce case. These documents are often referred to as pleadings. In the vast majority of divorce cases, there are a multitude of additional pleadings filed. These are the basics.
Before You Actually File
To file for divorce in Texas, you or your spouse must have lived in Texas for at least six months immediately prior to filing. Additionally, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the county in which you file for at least 90 days before filing for divorce.
Filing for Divorce
To file a divorce, you must have a reason or grounds for the divorce. The grounds for divorce in Texas are insupportability, cruelty, adultery, conviction of a felony, abandonment, living apart, and confinement in a mental hospital. Insupportability is the most common ground for divorce. Insupportability is the equivalent of “irreconcilable differences”.
The first step in a divorce proceeding is the filing of the “Original Petition for Divorce.” This step is where having an attorney comes in handy. The Original Petition for Divorce states the names of both parties to the divorce, the grounds for divorce, jurisdictional issues, whether there are children involved, property issues, etc.
If done incorrectly, the outcome of your divorce can be severely limited by your initial filing. Before you file, meet with an attorney. Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant has attorneys who can help you in your divorce proceeding. The filing is not something you should do alone.
Once your attorney has filed the Original Petition for Divorce, your spouse will be served with process. The service of process guarantees the other spouse is aware of the divorce proceedings. (You can’t divorce someone without their knowledge, and you must prove they are aware of the proceedings.)
Once your spouse has received the service of process and has retained an attorney, your spouse will respond to your Original Petition for Divorce by filing an Original Answer and, possibly, a Counterpetition for Divorce.
Alternatively, your spouse may file a Waiver of Service, sometimes called a Waiver of Citation. The Waiver allows your spouse to notify the court that he/she is aware of the divorce and has received a copy of the original petition without actually being served by a constable or process server.
If there are children from the marriage, they must be considered in the pleadings as well. Custody must be addressed in any divorce involving children.
There are two different custody classifications: conservatorship and possession. Conservatorship addresses the power each parent has to make important decisions in the child’s life – where they go to school, what doctor they see, what religious instruction they receive. Possession addresses at what times the child is physically in the care of each parent.
If you are awarded primary custody, meaning your child lives with you the majority of the time, you will likely receive child support. Child support is a monthly payment to ensure the financial needs of the child are met. Child support is based on the income of the other parent, and may include add-ons such as insurance or daycare expenses.
Finalizing the Divorce
A divorce is finalized when the judge signs the Final Decree of Divorce. (Incidentally, a divorce cannot be finalized until at least 60 days after the Original Petition is filed.) The final decree will address all of the issues associated with the divorce – division of community property, confirmation of separate property, conservatorship, possession, child support, etc. At that point, the divorce proceedings are finished and you are divorced.
At Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant, we have the right lawyer for every type of divorce. Whether the issue is conservatorship, possession, child support, or property, our attorneys will take care of you. Our clients come to us from all over the DFW Metroplex, including Denton, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Highland Village or Frisco. Call us today at(940) 387-3518 and let us ease your worries and stress.