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Specialty tag(s): Divorce for Women, Divorce for Men, Pre-Divorce Guidance, Divorce

Basic Steps in the Divorce Process

Ally Caskey | February 6, 2023

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Divorce, no matter the circumstances, is a challenging and emotionally charged time in one’s life. Due to the uncertainty, anxiety, and, sometimes, the shock of their own situation, many going through it for the first time can find it comforting to know, typically, how the divorce process works, so they know what to expect moving forward. Though the specifics can vary, the divorce process generally follows the same progression.

Below is a step-by-step outline on how divorce works in Texas.

1. File a Divorce Petition

The first step in the divorce process is to file a divorce petition. Even if both spouses agree to a divorce, one must file a divorce petition with the court to begin the process of terminating the marriage. This person is known as the petitioner, and the other spouse is referred to as the respondent.

When a divorce petition is filed, it must include the following information:

  • A statement informing the court that at least one spouse in the marriage meets the specific state’s residency requirement for divorce. In Texas, one spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing for divorce, and one spouse must have lived in the county for the preceding 90 days.
  • The legal reason for the divorce, fault or no-fault.
  • Any other statutory information required by the state, such as the date of marriage, your plans for child-related matters, and your plans to divide the marital property.

2. Notify Spouse and File Proof of Service

The next step in the divorce process is to give your spouse, the respondent, legal notice of the divorce petition. Legal notice requires serving your spouse with a copy of the filed-stamped copy of the petition.

Those who are reasonably amicable with their spouse may choose to give the divorce petition directly to their spouse, who can then sign a Waiver of Formal Service.

Many whose spouses may not want to get a divorce or is not agreeable to signing a waiver will hire a process server or a county constable or Sheriff, who is licensed to personally serve the legal documents to your spouse.

In the event personal service is not successful, you can obtain a court order that allows for alternative service via mail or posting.

Once your spouse has been served with the divorce petition, you will need to file a proof of service or the signed waiver of service, which states that you have met the statutory requirements for providing a copy of the divorce petition to your spouse. If you fail to file a proof of service or properly serve your spouse the necessary paperwork, the divorce case will not be able to proceed.

Your spouse must now file a response within a certain time frame; otherwise, it could result in a default judgment against them. Reversing this judgment can be a complicated and costly process.

3. Request Temporary Court Orders if Necessary

In some situations, it may not be viable to wait months for a divorce to be finalized. In this situation, one party can request temporary court orders, in their original petition or a separate motion, to settle matters such as child supportchild custody, and spousal support during the pendency of the case.

If you request temporary court orders, the court will hold a hearing to obtain information from both spouses, and the judge will make a ruling on the request. These orders will remain in effect until the divorce is finalized.

4. Negotiate a Settlement

Negotiating a settlement is a crucial aspect of understanding how the divorce process works. Important matters in your lives, such as child custody, property division, or the dividing up of a business, can be difficult for both parties to agree upon. In order to help resolve issues such as these, spouses and their attorneys will discuss these points in an attempt to reach a settlement. Prior to any file trial, the court will require the parties to attend mediation which a neutral third party assists in the settlement negotiations.

5. Trial

If negotiations fail and problems are still unresolved, the next step is to take the divorce to final trial. At trial, both parties will present their evidence to the judge to support their claims regarding matters such as property, financial support, child custody, and other similar issues. The court will then consider all evidence and testimony and make a final ruling on all outstanding matters of the case.

6. Finalize Judgment

The last step in the divorce process is to finalize the court’s judgment in a final decree of divorce. This decree, which the judge signs, will end the marriage and make specific orders regarding matters such as child custody, financial support, division of assets, and all other issues.

About the Author

Ally is well-versed in the practice of family law; she specializes in working with children to make a positive difference in their lives and strategizing options for property settlement with clients. She is a member of the Dallas Bar association, Family Law Section, and the Annette Stewart American Inn of Court. Ally is a graduate of Southern Methodist University, Dedman School of Law, where she was named to the Dean’s List and served as President of the Family Law Association.

For more information about the divorce process in Plano Texas, please contact Ally Caskey at 214-810-1560.

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