The filing of the petition for divorce legally begins the divorce. It is the document that asks the Court to legally dissolve your marriage. This document will be served on your spouse to tell them they are being divorced regardless of whether or not they want to be.
If your divorce is uncontested, your spouse may be willing to waive service to save the cost, and embarrassment, of having a private process server go to their office or home and physically hand them a copy of the petition and citation. After being served, if your spouse doesn’t file an answer to your petition, your spouse will be in default and may have waived their right to be present at trial and to put on evidence. In a default, after hearing only one side of the story, the Court will make its ruling.
You can file a petition for divorce on your own if you know the correct form and procedure for filing it. Typically however, the judges and clerks frown on people representing themselves because you are expected to know all the correct legal procedures and follow the rules without their assistance.
If you and your spouse can agree on every issue, and have little or no property, reside in Dallas or Collin County, and just need an attorney to draft and file the petition and decree of divorce, and conduct a “prove-up”, we typically complete uncontested divorces for $750.00 plus filing fee if no kids are involved, or $1000.00 plus filing fee if kids are involved.
Petition For Divorce
An action for divorce, like all civil actions, is commenced by filing a petition with the clerk of the appropriate court. The petition must contain a statement, in plain and concise language, of the petitioner’s cause of action and claims for relief. A commonly neglected requirement is that the allegations of the grounds for relief must be stated substantially in the language of the statute and without a detailed statement of evidentiary facts. Often those drafting the petition chronicle pages of events leading up to the divorce, often to the displeasure of the Court. Similarly, the contents of each paragraph should be limited, to the extent practicable, to a statement of a single set of circumstances.
Filing for Divorce
The action for dissolution of marriage is commenced by the filing of the original petition with the District Clerks Office of the appropriate county and payment of the required filing fees. Once the case is filed-stamped it will be assigned a number and a court. If your divorce is filed in Dallas County, it will be assigned to one of seven Family District Courts. If your divorce is filed in Collin County, it will be assigned to a general jurisdiction court. A general jurisdiction court is one that hears criminal and business matters also.
Citation and Service
When an original petition in a dissolution suit is filed, citation may be issued and served as in other civil cases. The purpose of citation is to give a party notice that the party has been sued and afford that party an opportunity to protect his or her interests. Service of citation also perfects the court’s jurisdiction over the person and property of a party who is a resident of Texas or who is subject to jurisdiction of Texas under the “long-arm” statute. No unagreed judgment may be rendered against a party except on service of process, unless the party has accepted or waived service or has entered a general appearance. Toward that end, a true copy of every pleading, plea, motion, or application to the court for an order, unless presented during a hearing or trial, must be filed with the clerk in writing and served on all other parties.
The basic methods of serving citation are:
- Personal service by delivery of the citation and accompanying papers to the respondent by a person authorized to serve citation.
- Service by mailing a copy of the citation and the petition to the respondent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested.
- Service of the citation and petition on some other person authorized by law to receive service on behalf of the respondent pursuant to a Court order.
- Publication of the citation in a newspaper when the respondent’s whereabouts are unknown.
If you file your divorce in Dallas County, you will immediately be subject to a “standing order”. The standing order has been adopted by all seven Family District Courts. The standing order is in place to protect persons and property during the divorce process. A violation of the standing order may result in contempt proceedings being brought against the offending party.