Suggestions On How To File For Divorce In Texas
This document does not contain legal advice. For legal advice, click here to see a list of Texas Divorce Lawyers by County. The first phone call/meeting may be free and most lawyers accept payment plans.
Going through a divorce may be scary; everyone has the right to be treated like a human.
Talk to a divorce lawyer about your rights.
- Using money made while married during the divorce for:
- Food and a place to live.
- Hiring a divorce lawyer.
- A fair divorce should include reasonably splitting the property owned/purchased and money made during the marriage.
Does my spouse have to agree to the divorce? No. Texas is a "no fault" divorce state; you can divorce or be divorced for any reason.
* To find out where to file for a divorce or if you have been served papers from your spouse, call the County Clerk in the county that you live for more information.
There are two kinds of divorces:
- A contested divorce (you don't agree) is one in which the parties cannot agree, either about getting divorced or about the terms of the divorce, such as the division of money, property, cars and stuff, who pays what bills, alimony, child support and/or the custody and placement of children.
- An uncontested divorce (you agree) is one in which the parties agree on ALL aspects.
☐ Step 1: If you are being hurt or feel UNSAFE call the police.
If you are being hurt, feel unsafe and/or there has been family violence:
- Call 911
- National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
- Texas Family Violence Legal Line at 1-800-374-HOPE (4673)
- Advocates for Victims of Crime (AVOICE) at 1-888-343-4414
☐ Step 2: DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING UNTIL YOU HAVE SPOKEN TO A LAWYER.
- Know your rights. Speak to a lawyer even if it is just to review documents.
- If you can't afford a lawyer and legal aid can't help, you may be able to find a lawyer who will work for a payment plan.
Need help finding a lawyer in your county? The first phone call/meeting with a lawyer may be free. Click here for a list of Texas Divorce Lawyers by County
Things to consider if:
- Your spouse has a lawyer.
- You and/or your spouse have a house, retirement, business, other valuable property or a lot of bills/debt that need to be divided fairly.
- Your children don't live in Texas or haven't lived in Texas very long.
- Your spouse lives outside of Texas.
- You and your spouse don't agree on child support or placement of your kids.
- You are expecting a baby.
- You or your spouse produced a child outside the marriage.
- Your spouse wife in a same-sex marriage is pregnant or gave birth to a child during the marriage.
- You and/or your children get Medicaid and/or other government assistance.
- You and/or your spouse are in the military.
Contacting a lawyer will help you understand which forms are required for your divorce and may SAVE YOU from mistakes that may affect you for years!
☐ Step 3: Start gathering financial documents:
- Bank statements
- Pay stubs
- Tax return
- Retirement paperwork
- Get a copy of your credit report
- Consider opening your own checking account
- Mortgage paperwork
- Loan paperwork
- Your and your Children's Birth Certificate(s)
☐ Step 4: Fill out the Original Petition for Divorce.
- If you choose to hire a lawyer, the remaining steps will be handled by the lawyer to a reasonable extent.
- You will still need to show up for court dates unless your lawyer instructs you not to show up for a specific court date.
☐ Step 5: Make copies of all forms/documents.
☐ Step 6: Keep a copy of all forms/documents for your records.
☐ Step 7: File your completed Original Petition for Divorce and pay the filing fee to your County Court Clerk's Office.
- The filing fee may vary from county to county. It is best to call the Court Clerk in the county that you live in and verify the filing fee and the form(s) of acceptable payment.
☐ Step 8: Give "Legal Notice" to your spouse of the divorce.
- Your spouse has the right to know that you have filed for divorce.
- Here are 3 ways to give "Legal Notice" to your spouse:
- Waiver of Service (Use this method if both of you AGREE to the divorce.) If your spouse signs the form, they waive citation, filing an answer and further notice of the divorce.
- Official Service of Process (Use this method if you and your spouse do not agree to go through with the divorce).
- Ask the Court Clerk for the Citation form.
- Take your petition, citation and information of Service of Process form to the Sheriff's Office in your county.
- The Sheriff will locate and hand-deliver the documents to your spouse.
- POSTING OR PUBLIICATION (Use one of these methods when you can't find you spouse.)
- Posting-Affidavit for Citation by Posting will need to be filed. Take the form to your County Clerk's office. If you have children or have property, speak to a lawyer for additional advice as this will change your requirements for legal notice.
- Publication (process takes about 3 months) - Affidavit of Diligent Search, Certificate of Last Known Address and Service Members Affidavit will need to be filed. Once these forms are filed, the notice is published in the newspaper. The newspaper completes and returns a "Return of Citation." The spouse is considered served. Then you will need to file a "Statement of Evidence." The spouse has up to 2 years to ask for a new trial at your cost if you use this process.
☐ Step 9: If you have children and they are having emotional or behavior problems call a counselor or ask your children's school counselor for help.
- Call the number on the back of your health insurance card for a list of counselors your children can see in your area.
- Call an insurance approved counselor to make an appointment for your children.
☐ Step 10: Get ready for court.
Your attorney can help you with the following and more:
- Fill out the Final Decree of Divorce.
- If the divorce is contested you may need to give a deposition, testify or provide information to support your petition for the divorce or counter petition.
- Bring your organized documents and copies of all forms for the divorce with you.
- Dress appropriately for court.
- Check with court staff to see if the children will need to be present, if not make appropriate plans for childcare.
- If you fear for your safety or the safety of your children, contact security at the court house so arrangements can be made.
- Plan on being in court for the entire day. If you get out early feel lucky!
☐ Step 11: Go to court to finish your divorce.
- Typically you should arrive at least 30 minutes early to allow for unforeseen challenges, finding the courtroom or last minute prepping.
- Turn off electronic equipment including cell phones.
- Remove hats or sunglasses unless medically needed.
- Do not bring any food, gum or drink into the courtroom.
- Make sure you understand what the next step is before you leave; is the divorce finalized or will you need to come back. If so when, where, and at what time.
☐ Step 12: Wait the required waiting periods.
- In most cases it will take longer than 61 days, the clock starts from the time the Original Petition for Divorce was actually filed with the court.
- Note: Victims of family violence may be able to finish their divorce earlier.
- Your spouse has 30 days to file a motion for a new trial or a motion to modify, correct or reform a judgement.
- You cannot get married to someone else until 30 days after your Final Decree of Divorce is signed by the judge.