February 22, 2024 In Family Law and Divorce

How is a divorce case started?

In Texas, a divorce case is started by a spouse filing a Petition for Divorce (“Divorce Petition”).  Depending on the county, the cost of just filing a divorce petition can run from $350 to $400.  The Divorce Petition only starts the process of divorce, it does not mean that you are now single.  Once the Divorce Petition is filed, the Divorce Petition goes through a process in which the County assigns a case number and a Judge to oversee the case.  Unlike some matters, divorce cases are a matter of public record and are accessible by anyone.  That doesn’t mean that anyone can read the documents (or pleadings) in the case, but it does mean that anyone can find out that a divorce case has been filed and that you are a party to the suit.

Once the case number has been assigned, the usual next step is for the petitioner to request a Citation.  Think of a Citation as something similar to getting a ticket from a police officer.  The police officer hands you the ticket/citation which puts you on legal notice that you have to deal with the ticket.  The same concepts works in divorce cases too.  The Citation in a divorce case serves as the initial notification that your spouse must respond to your divorce case.  However, unlike when you get pulled over by the police for a traffic violation, the Citation must be personally served on your spouse.  And, no, you can not serve your spouse.  It must be someone else.  We hire professionals who serve as the processor server for your spouse.  This is done because, on occasion, people lie and claim that they weren’t served.  Hiring a processor server eliminates this problem.

After your spouse has been served, your spouse has at least 20 days to respond.   The deadline to respond always falls on a Monday so depending on which day of the week that he was served with the petition, he may have up to 26 days to file an answer.  If the spouse does not file an answer within the time period allowed, the spouse is in default.  If he does file an answer, the case proceeds forward to the next phase of the divorce process.  This can include temporary orders or mediation or a combination of both.  If your spouse does not file an answer, you then must wait until 60 days have elapsed from the date you filed your petition before you can get your divorce finalized.

If you have questions about the process of starting a divorce or have particular issues such as separate property or issues concerning child custody, call us at 214-984-0059 to setup and schedule a consultation.  Our office conducts consultations either in person or via zoom.



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