Whether it comes as a surprise to you or not, receiving divorce papers from a process server or law enforcement officer can be one of the more unnerving experiences of your life.
The process begins with being notified that a lawsuit has been filed against you in a court and a judge is telling you that you need to respond within a certain amount of time. You probably would feel like you haven’t done anything wrong which adds to your level of unease and apprehension.
The paperwork uses language that appears to be English but is not readable like a newspaper or magazine, either. The instructions that you are provided with aren’t straightforward and easy to understand. If you find yourself in this sort of situation what should you do?
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to provide you with some assistance in this matter by offering you some advice on how to handle being served with divorce paperwork. What it all means, how you need to respond and some other odds and ends will all be discussed.
Being served with divorce papers- what happens initially
The most important thing that I can tell you today is that you absolutely should not put the papers aside to deal with them later. That’s not to say you should rush around and o something hasty, but you need to take action once you are served with divorce papers.
Your spouse will have filed for divorce from you by filing an Original Petition for Divorce. This document names who you are and who he/she are as well as your children if they are under the age of 18. The grounds for the divorce (the reason why he or she is divorcing you) are specified as well as any specific things that are being requested of the court.
A citation will accompany the Original Petition. This is a form generated by the clerk’s office where the Petition was filed.
It specifies that you have been served with legal documents and that you will need to file an Answer with their office within a certain time period. That time period in Texas is within twenty days, after the first Monday of being served at 10:00 a.m. This means that you have approximately three weeks to either hire an attorney to have an Answer filed or to do this yourself.
A professional process server may be the person that actually delivers the paperwork to you. This person’s job is to collect paperwork from the courthouse and deliver it to you. He or she will not provide legal advice and is not a divorce attorney.
This person will record the date and time you were served and report back to the courthouse. This information will be utilized to determine the deadline that you have to file your Answer. A law enforcement officer may also be hired to serve you, but for the most part divorce papers are delivered and served by a process server.
Do you need to hire an attorney once you’ve been served?
A question that you will probably come across if served with divorce papers is whether or not you will need to hire an attorney to represent you. As an attorney working for a family law office here in southeast Texas, I can tell you that many of our current clients were once representing themselves in divorce cases.
The legal process is not rocket science and I am not here to tell you that you aren’t smart enough or capable enough to represent yourself. However, the work is tedious, time intensive and deadline driven- meaning that if you don’t know what you’re doing you could hurt yourself in the long run and impair your ability to advocate your case.
With that said, if you do decide to hire an attorney I would recommend that you schedule at least three interviews with lawyers that offer free of charge consultations. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan offers free of charge consultations six days a week where our licensed family law attorneys can answer your questions and give you some general advice on how to proceed.
Assuming that you do decide to hire an attorney I would recommend that you begin to collect and organize any paperwork that you can that may be relevant in your divorce case.
Bank documents, house documents, taxes, etc. will all be reconciled during your divorce and negotiated upon as far as dividing equity and the contents of any financial accounts. By organizing these papers early on in the process you are saving yourself and your attorney time and effort down the line.
Your response to their Original Petition
As the responding party, you are known as the “Respondent” just as your spouse is the “Petitioner” based on their having filed the Petition to begin the divorce. The Respondent files an Original Answer which is a short and sweet document that basically alerts the court to your being an active party in the case.
If your spouse has hired an attorney the paperwork can be filed with the court and then e-mailed, faxed or mailed to the attorney’s office. From there you and your spouse (through your attorneys) can discuss any issues that may require a temporary orders hearing to manage such as payment of bills, child visitation and child support during the divorce. If an agreement can be reached then no temporary orders hearing is required.
Questions about the beginning stages of your divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
Our office is honored to work with clients across southeast Texas to help advocate for their rights and guide them and their families through difficult times. To schedule a free of charge consultation with one of our licensed divorce lawyers please do not hesitate to contact our office today.
No divorce is easy, but the experienced and knowledgeable attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will do our best to ensure that your divorce is as pain free a process as possible.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- WHERE DO I GO TO GET DIVORCE PAPERS SERVED IN TEXAS?
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyer
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with ar Spring, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A divorce lawyer in Spring TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.