Where do I go to get divorce papers served

Picture this: you have built up the confidence to finally move forward with a divorce. This has been something that you have been thinking about for months but haven’t felt comfortable filing yet. After trying counseling, therapy, and everything in between it is now apparent that you need to get divorced. You’ve saved up some money and have goals in mind for your case. You are ready to get this ball rolling. No looking back now, right?

One problem: you have no idea how to get your case started. Sure, you have an idea of what the beginning of a divorce looks like. Your best friend got divorced about five years ago. She has some helpful information to share now and again but for the most part, she just tells you how bad her divorce was. It’s nice to have friends to lean on for support but you need helpful information right now more than anything else. 

Finding out how to get divorce papers served or any other information about divorce means that it is time for you to start working with an attorney. Yes, the answer to this question can be found online. The trouble with that is that you may not be able to decipher what is correct information and what information makes no sense at all. At this stage your time is valuable. You want to get moving with your case and do not want untrustworthy or incorrect information to hinder your case. 

That is where the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can come into play. Our experienced family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. Don’t let questions and doubts about a divorce permanently keep you on the sidelines. Yes- it is smart to not move forward with something as important as a divorce when you have questions to answer. However, when you have a source of information that is trustworthy you are better off taking advantage of that source and moving forward. 

Do you need an attorney to serve divorce papers?

Short answer: no, you do not need an attorney to represent you in a divorce or to file your petition. There are several ways to represent yourself in a divorce. May we suggest looking at our do-it-yourself divorce guide before giving that a try? However, you can certainly represent yourself in the divorce case. 

That said, do you fill your cavities, change your oil, or even mow your grass? I’m going to bet the answer to all three of those questions is “no.” If you leave all those jobs to the professionals then why would you try to go out and get a divorce on your own? There is so much at stake in your case. Even if you don’t have children or a lot of property, your time is still valuable. If you want to make sure that your time is cared for that is another reason why you should consider hiring an attorney for your divorce.

You do not need to spend your entire life’s savings on a lawyer. Many people come into the Law Office of Bryan Fagan for a free-of-charge consultation and expect our attorney’s fees to be so high that you would need to take out a second mortgage to afford representation. This is not the case. We offer competitive fee structures as well as different arrangements for representation depending on your needs. For example, we can provide you with an attorney to just review settlement language, proofread your final decree of divorce, or even attend a single hearing on your behalf. Talk to us about your needs and we almost surely will have an arrangement that works well for you.

Where do you file divorce papers?

Before we can get into who serves the divorce papers, we need to answer the question: where is it proper for you to file divorce papers? The general answer would be “court” but that is not specific enough to help you get moving with your case. Remember that you have only recently made up your mind to file for divorce but may still have questions about where exactly to file your case. Is it the big courthouse downtown? You seem to remember your friend talking about her going downtown to get their divorce but are not sure at this point. 

Depending upon the size of your county there may be one or many more divorce courts. In Harris County, sixteen family law courts take in divorce cases. If you live in a smaller county, then that number may be substantially smaller. You can contact the clerk of the district or county court for your area to find out more about what types of cases their court accepts. 

The answer to the question of where to file also depends upon which court has jurisdiction over your case. Jurisdiction means that a court can issue orders and hear arguments in your case. In a Texas divorce case, jurisdiction can be obtained when you have lived in Texas for at least six months, the county where you plan to file for at least ninety days before the filing of your case. 

An important aspect of this discussion to note is that multiple courts could have jurisdiction over your divorce at the same time. Imagine a situation where you live in Houston and your spouse lives in The Woodlands. Your husband has lived in Montgomery County for about four months since you all separated. Under this timeline, you could file for divorce in Harris County and your husband could file for divorce in Montgomery County. 

What this sets up is a race to the courthouse proposition where you both could theoretically file for divorce in your jurisdiction, and it would be proper to do so. Either court could accept jurisdiction under this arrangement. Please note, however, that if you have the kids in Harris County then it would be more likely that the Montgomery County Court would defer jurisdiction to the court for the county in which your children reside. 

Is this confusing at all? It may be a little confusing. After all, you are not involved in this type of analysis all day every day like the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. When you need helpful information and advice when a situation is muddy like a divorce then reach out to us. No law firm in Houston devotes as much of its practice to divorce as ours. We are inside the courtrooms of southeast Texas every day on behalf of our clients. 

Who serves divorce papers?

The preferred way to have your divorce papers served is through a private process server. A private process server will pick up your Original Petition for Divorce from the Court where your case is filed and then go to wherever you ask him to go for service. Once your spouse is located the paperwork will be handed to him and service will be “effectuated”, as in, service will be complete. 

You can locate a private process server in multiple ways. There are process server agencies that employ multiple process servers. Depending upon the location where you want your spouse served as well as other circumstances associated with the case the agency can help you determine the best person to act as your process server. You can also find solo private process servers who work for themselves and can serve your paperwork. 

Again, one of the many benefits of working with an experienced family law attorney in your divorce is that the attorney will have a relationship with a process server whom he or she trusts. That is important considering how your spouse may not be available the first or even the second time that service is attempted. Since you want to have a person who will be diligent, professional, and will document their attempts at service you will need a process server that you can trust. This is where having an attorney by your side can truly start to pay dividends for you in the case. 

What happens once the service is complete?

Once your spouse has successfully been served with divorce papers you can start to concern yourself with the remaining steps of your case. A citation will be filed with the court informing them of the date, time, and location of service for your spouse. This will go into your case file to be maintained until your case is done. 

The specifics of when your spouse is served with notice of the divorce are important because you may need to move forward with your case if your spouse fails to file an Answer to your Original Petition. The failure to file an Answer within approximately twenty days of him or her being served puts them in default. A default divorce would potentially allow you to file your Final Decree of Divorce without first having to consult him or her. Essentially you would be able to have your preferred orders included without having to negotiate with your spouse or go to a trial first. 

Typically, your spouse will file an Answer by the deadline. Their Answer is not a long document. It almost always amounts to a general denial with a  few more details included. A counterpetition may be filed, as well, if your spouse has any unique allegations against you or requests for relief that need to be made. Consider what your needs are in the divorce as well as that of your children. If something is worth asking for then file an Original Counterpetition for Divorce and see to it that your requests are made known to the court immediately.

Why is this so important? In a trial setting, or even after mediation, you cannot be granted relief from the court for something that you do not plead to either in your petition or counterpetition for divorce. It would be an absolute shame to work through all the issues of your case only to find that you cannot get what you want from the court because you did not properly plead for it. 

How to start off a divorce on the right foot

In a way, all the information contained in today’s blog post is designed to help you get off to a fast start in your divorce. It is not enough for you to know how to get a divorce but rather to know how to get a divorce that accomplishes what it is you want to accomplish. To do this you need to have goals as well as a strategy designed to help you meet those goals.

Intentionality is key to a divorce. Ideally, you want no wasted days in your case. Wasted days turn into wasted weeks where you get nothing productive done in your case. Spend your time negotiating, thinking about settlement offers, planning with your attorney, and being attentive to the needs of your children. The last that you want to encounter is a situation where your co-parent and you are sitting in a divorce trial which could have been avoided if you had only spent more time focusing on the issues of your case during those days and weeks you thought nothing important was going on. 

This next piece of information is important, but it may be difficult to follow. That would be to focus on talking with your spouse early and often in the divorce. I understand that you may be filing for divorce because you are unhappy in the marriage. It is easy to avoid difficult discussions and to pass all the responsibility on the case to your attorney as far as communication is concerned. 

However, if you can develop an open line of communication with your spouse from the beginning of your case then you will be in a good position to accomplish your goals. Think about how many times in your life you were texting with a person and a simple conversation took an hour to play out. Rather than take an hour to text your way through an issue you could have chosen to pick up the phone and talk through the subject matter with your co-parent. You accomplish more and take less time to do this than in a text message conversation. 

The same general rule applies to divorce. When you want to accomplish something promptly pick up the phone and talk to your co-parent and spouse. He may not be on the best terms with you right now, but you can begin to break the ice by showing that you want to reduce the time and expense of a divorce. As much as your spouse may be upset with you now, he is more upset at the idea of a divorce taking longer than it ought to. From our experience, is it the spouses who can communicate with one another who can efficiently work through their divorce? 

Next, talk to your attorney about all issues in your life. Sometimes you will have to share information that is not exactly pleasant to discuss but so be it. That is the price you pay for wanting to get divorced. Discuss these unpleasant subjects with your spouse so that you do not surprise your attorney with that information down the line. The earlier you can discuss this subject matter with him or her, the better off you will be. That allows you to prepare for any issues that may arise down the road associated with that less-than-favorable information.

Finally, consider the needs of your children early on. It can be tempting for you to begin to focus on the issues that are most important to you and to lose sight of matters for your child in the long run. The trouble is that this can happen before you even know it. You begin to drift into a mindset where you focus on the wrongs committed against you by your spouse and lose sight of what matters most to your child. If you put your child at the forefront in your case, you will maintain a clearer focus and can better prepare yourself for what you will be facing down the line in your divorce.

Thank you for choosing to spend some time with us today here on our blog. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan takes a great deal of pride in serving our clients and we hope that you found today’s blog post to be of interest. We post interesting, unique, and informative blogs each day. Stop by again tomorrow to read more or call us if you have any questions about what you have just read. 

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 how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. 

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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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