Family Law Cases in Texas: Notifying your Spouse Regarding a Divorce Case

Family Law Cases in Texas: Notifying your Spouse Regarding a Divorce Case

Initiating a divorce in Texas marks a significant turning point in one’s personal life. In this essential guide, we explore the critical first step in the process: effectively notifying your spouse regarding divorce. Understanding the legal requirements and nuances of this initial phase can set the tone for the proceedings, ensuring compliance with Texas family law.

Exploring Your Options: When Divorce Becomes the Chosen Path

Depending on the dynamics of your family, you may consult with a family law attorney and decide to file for divorce without first having discussed the subject with your spouse. Alternatives would be to attend counseling or attempt to work out your marriage issues on your own without legal assistance.

There can be circumstances that necessitate a quick removal of yourself and your children from a marriage where either of these two options would not make sense. However, for most people reading this blog, it is recommended that you attempt to salvage your marriage before making any hasty decisions regarding a divorce.

However, if you decide to move forward with a divorce without first alerting your spouse, you will need to figure out where and how to have him, or she served. Today’s blog post from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will focus on this issue.

Understanding the Methods of Notifying Your Spouse in Texas Divorce Cases

There are three ways to notify your spouse that you have filed for divorce against them:

1. Waiver of Citation/Service: A Swift and Simple Approach

In cases where the divorce is uncontested or there are only a few issues to negotiate, spouses can opt for a Waiver of Citation/Service. This method involves your spouse signing an affidavit, acknowledging receipt of the Original Petition for Divorce and waiving the right to formal service. Once filed with the court, this approach is often the quickest way to proceed with a divorce in Texas.

2. Personal Service: The Traditional Route

The most common way to notify a spouse of a divorce suit is through personal service. This entails a constable, sheriff, police officer, or professional process server delivering the Original Petition for Divorce and citation directly to your spouse. The process is considered complete once the documents are in your spouse’s hands. The server then files an affidavit with the court detailing the service specifics. Private servers offer flexibility in timing, while law enforcement officials may have fixed schedules for attempts.

3. Service by Publication or Posting: The Last Resort

When personal service isn’t feasible, the final option is service by publication or posting at the courthouse. This method requires documenting all attempts to serve your spouse and obtaining court approval for service by publication. Once approved, the district clerk will post the citation at the courthouse or publish it in a newspaper in the last known location of your spouse. This method requires a set period to pass before it is deemed complete, and proof of publication must be filed with the court.

Each method has its own procedural nuances and legal implications. It’s vital to understand and choose the one that best fits your unique situation in a Texas divorce proceeding.

Responding to Divorce Papers: Understanding the Importance of Filing an Answer

Family Law Cases in Texas: Notifying your Spouse Regarding a Divorce Case

After you successfully serve your spouse with the Petition for Divorce and the Citation, your spouse must file their Answer by the First Monday following 20 days after the service. This deadline holds regardless of the chosen service method, including cases where your spouse signed a Waiver.

The Answer entitles your spouse to receive notification from the court on court dates or other vital information such as deadlines to file discovery, trial/pre-trial dates, and deadlines to attend mediation.

The critical part about filing an Answer is that by doing so, your spouse keeps you from being able to get a default judgment against them. A default judgment can occur if you properly serve your spouse; they do not file an answer within the twenty-day timeframe I laid out a few paragraphs ago. You have an order drafted and approved by the judge once the sixty-day waiting period has expired. Filing an Answer requires you to negotiate with your spouse for a final order instead of pushing one through that reflects only what you want.

Speaking of the sixty-day waiting period…

Your court cannot grant your divorce until your Original Petition for Divorce has been on file for sixty days. Believe it or not, many couples use this time to figure out if a divorce is the best course of action for them. It is not uncommon for me to receive a phone call from a client telling me that they do not want to move forward with a divorce after all.

The other purpose of the sixty-day waiting period is to allow you and your spouse to work out an agreement on any outstanding issues in your case. Children and property issues abound in a divorce, and the two months in between filing and resolving a divorce can act as a reasonable period to negotiate on those issues. Disagreeing with your spouse can result in having to go before a judge in a trial or, first, a temporary orders hearing.

Temporary Orders Hearing

After filing for divorce, you and your spouse must decide how to divide responsibilities and time with your children during the divorce process. You will determine who pays which bills and establish a visitation schedule for the children. Deciding where the children will primarily reside sets the ground rules to maintain as much normalcy as possible before finalizing the divorce.

If you and your spouse fail to reach an agreement through mediation or informal settlement negotiations, your case will proceed to a judge for a temporary orders hearing.

During this mini-trial, you and your spouse will argue your positions on the issues previously mentioned. After considering all evidence, the judge will make decisions based on what they deem fair and in the best interests of your child. It’s important to note that the outcomes of temporary orders often closely indicate what the final orders will likely entail.

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

Family Law Cases in Texas: Notifying your Spouse regarding a Divorce case

If you have questions on this subject or any other in family law, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, today.

Our team of licensed family law attorneys would be honored to meet with you free of charge to answer your questions and prepare you for what your life could look like before, during, and after filing a family law case.


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  1. How to Draft and File an Answer to a Texas Divorce – Free Downloadable Forms
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s essential to speak with one of our Houston, TX, Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, 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.

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Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Today!

At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

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