When it comes to getting a divorce in Texas there are certain forms and documents that you need to become familiar with. In any typical divorce scenario, your attorney will handle the drafting of these forms on your behalf. You will have the final say on what the documents look like and will be consulted along the way while they are being drafted. However, ultimately is the attorney who has the experience you need to be able to drop the documents correctly and file them in a timely fashion. However, if you choose to proceed with a divorce case without an attorney then you need to become familiar with what these forms are and how to fill them out.
One of the most difficult parts of a Worst case is managing the paper side of the case. By this, I mean all of the parts of your case that have to do with filing documents with the court. When it comes to drafting the documents correctly and ultimately filing them on time and in the right manner this is often one of the reasons why people in your position end up hiring an experienced family law attorney to help walk them through their case. Many of the clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan hired our attorneys to represent them only after attempting to proceed in a divorce case on their own. After spending money and time devoted to the divorce process with little success these folks ultimately decided to hire our attorneys to help them accomplish their goals.
With that said, if you do intend to proceed with the divorce on your own and without representation then you need to know about the forms that we are going to be discussing today. These are basic documents that are a part of every divorce case in Texas. Regardless of whether your divorce involves a great deal of property or children, you will need to become familiar with these forms. There is no fast-track divorce process for people who have been married for a short period and have no children or property together. Everyone follows the same rules and the timeline for a case is similar.
Commonly used forms in Texas divorce cases
Civil Case Information Sheet
The first form that I think you need to become familiar with regarding a divorce case in Texas is the civil case information sheet. The civil case information sheet contains basic biographical information about your case. To begin with, the civil case information sheet will ask that you write down your name, address, telephone number as well as contact information. Next, you will need to fill out who is the petitioner in the cases and who will be responding to your divorce. Importantly, in the top right corner of the form, you will need to select that you are a pro se petitioner. This simply means that you are unrepresented at the time you are filing for divorce.
Next, on the right side of the form, you will find a subsection for family law cases. You should choose a divorce with children or a divorce without children as the type of filing that you are making. This is all you will have to fill out for a family law case. You should fill the form out and create a PDF version of it so that you can file it with the court via the Internet. While you may be able to file paper documents with the clerk of the court in some counties most larger counties in Texas prefer and even require you to file these documents online rather than in paper format. This is another consideration that you need to give to being represented by an attorney. The consideration would be that if you are not computer savvy and do not have the technology available to you to file these documents correctly then that may be reason enough to consider seeking out legal representation for your divorce case.
Original Petition for Divorce
The original divorce petition is probably the most important document that will be filed in your case at least at the beginning. The reason why this is true is that the original divorce petition is the document that begins the divorce process and introduces you, your spouse as well as your children to the court. Remember that you would be the petitioner in your divorce in your spouse would be the respondent. At the top of the original divorce petition, the form asks for a cause number as well as a court number. You will not know this information when you are filling out the form. Therefore, you can leave these parts blank and move on to the rest of the document.
You will need to include the initials of all your children under the age of 18 who are a product of the marriage directly underneath the names of you and your spouse. Adult children and children from other marriages or relationships should not be included in this form. Additionally, children over the age of 18 who are still in high school should also be included in the form with their initial written on one of the lines included on this form.
As the petitioner of the divorce, you will need to introduce yourself first. You will write down your name, your driver’s license number (last three digits only), or the last three digits of your Social Security number if you do not have a driver’s license number. You will only need to provide the name of your spouse after introducing yourself in the original divorce petition.
Providing notice to your spouse that you have filed for divorce is an essential part of the process. Until and unless you have given notice of the lawsuit to him or her the case has not truly begun in earnest. Your spouse can either sign a waiver or service or Answer without service by a constable, sheriff, or private process server. However, if you believe that your spouse would not be agreeable to signing one of these forms then you would need to provide him or her with notice via personal service or another method.
Establishing jurisdiction to file your divorce case in the county you have chosen is also important. The bottom line is that you must have lived in that county for at least the prior 90 days and in the state of Texas for at least the prior six months before filing for divorce. There are some exceptions for being an active duty military servicemember or their spouse when it comes to not technically residing in Texas but considering Texas your state of residence.
Finally, you will be asked how to divide up rights and duties to your children as well as community property. Conservatorship issues related to your children will be among the most important to your case. Being able to make decisions for your kids is critical to a divorce. Many people who enter a divorce primarily consider the time with their children as being most important. However, these conservatorship rights and duties will determine in large part the course of the case and the lives of your children after the divorce comes to an end.
Texas is a community property state. This means that all property owned by you or your spouse at the time of your divorce is presumed to be owned by the community and thus is divisible. It does not matter who purchased the property or whose income was used to purchase the property (for the most part). So long as the property was purchased by either you or your spouse during your marriage it is likely community property. The separate property would be any property owned by you or your spouse before your marriage or acquired by either of you during the marriage via gift or inheritance.
Respondent’s Original Answer
When the Original Petition for Divorce is filed and eventually served upon your spouse, he or she will likely file an Answer to that Petition. By that time, the case will have a case number and court that is assigned to it. Completing the original answer without the assistance of an attorney means putting yourself at risk of losing property, money as well as time in rights to your children. If you do not have an attorney or otherwise believe that you cannot afford to have an attorney for your case, then you can contact a legal aid office or the State Bar of Texas lawyer referral information service. These are resources that you can turn to if you have a low income and no other way to pay for a lawyer.
For the most part, you can expect that your spouse would enter a general denial of the allegations made in your petition for divorce. A general denial is a blanket statement that denies anything you stated in your petition. By filing an answer and issuing a general denial your spouse would be able to be notified of any hearings in the case. Importantly, if you and your spouse reach an agreement before a trial date then your spouse could agree to sign the final decree of divorce in which case he or she would not need to appear at a prove-up hearing or even be notified of the hearing date.
Your spouse would complete the form by filling in their mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number. If any of this information would change for your spouse overtime, he or she must update the court just as you would have the same obligation. Failing to do so not only can hurt the progress of your case but would also potentially harm you. A court would attempt to reach you at your former address And you would not be there to respond. Remember that update the court with your recent address changes.
The final decree of divorce
Ultimately, what you and your spouse are seeking in a divorce is the final decree of divorce. These are the final orders which contain all the agreed-to information as well as the orders handed down by a judge in a trial regarding her divorce case. The final decree of divorce is an extremely long document in most cases. This is as opposed to the original petition or original answer period while these two documents are extremely short in most cases the final decree of divorce is quite long and detailed.
The final decree of divorce will be signed by a family court judge in your case. This is typically done after a prove-up hearing where either you or your spouse will go to answer a few simple questions from the judge about your divorce case and to confirm your knowledge of the information contained in the document. After which point the judge would sign off on your final decree of divorce and thus legally end your marriage to your spouse.
The final decree of divorce would touch on all the relevant areas of your case. This would include determining how property and debt are divided between you and your spouse. The document will give a detailed overview of how Community property would be divided including personal property, retirement savings, and your marital residence. Much of the time the final decree of divorce would contain exhibits which usually include forms like the special warranty deed or deed of trust to secure assumptions that would relate to how property is divided in the marital residence.
Next, the information regarding spousal maintenance would also be included in the final decree of divorce. Spousal maintenance can be ordered in circumstances where your marriage has lasted for more than 10 years, you have proven need to be unable to meet your minimal basic needs without assistance, and where you can show that your spouse can afford to pay the maintenance and still pay for their responsibilities in a separate household. Based on the number of years in your marriage and the circumstances in your case spousal maintenance can typically be ordered from anywhere from 5 to 10 years in duration.
Conservatorships and custody details regarding your children will also be included in the final decree of divorce. This includes provisions for any children who are under the age of 18 or still enrolled in high school. Child custody, child support as well as drop-off and pick-up instructions and details will be included in the final decree of divorce. Your possession order in the schedule for visitation will be included in the document. You should be very familiar with what this says and always have a copy of your position schedule handy in the future.
The above forms and documents tend to be the attention-grabbing ones in a divorce. However, many important documents may not get the notoriety or attention which are just as important in different ways. For example, if you were having difficulty in locating your spouse to provide him or her with notice of the divorce having been filed then you should file a certificate of last known address. This way you can notify the court of the last 10 addresses of your spouse if you want to be able to serve him or her via substituted service.
Next, you should be aware of what an affidavit of indigency is this is an affidavit where you would tell a court that you lack the resources necessary to hire an attorney. Low-income parties can use this form to ask the court to waive any filing fees associated with your case. If you do not plan on hiring an attorney and still lack the resources to File for divorce, then this is the form that you should certainly become very familiar with. The court may need to verify your income or determine whether or not you are on public assistance of any kind.
These are some of the main documents that you can expect to be a part of your divorce case. Depending upon the specific circumstances of your case there may be additional forms or documents that you need to become familiar with. As I mentioned earlier, the filing of documents in the preparation of them would primarily be your attorney’s responsibility in the divorce were you to hire one period however, if you choose to forego having representation in your divorce you would certainly need to become familiar with these forms and documents as well as on how to get them into your file for the court. If you do not necessarily think that you have the time or the desire to learn about these forms and documents, then you should certainly consider hiring an experienced family law attorney for your divorce.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.