What Documents Are Filed to Start a Divorce?
The Pleadings Required to Initiate a Marital Dissolution
Your marriage has ended and there’s no reasonable expectation of reconciliation. It’s time to file for divorce and get on with your life. How do you do that? What documents will you need to file to initiate legal proceedings to dissolve your marriage?
The First Steps
To start the legal process to obtain a divorce in Texas, you initially must file:
- an original petition of divorce,
- a citation,
- notice of service of process, and
- a decree of divorce.
Many Texas counties also require parties to a divorce to share financial information by completing a sworn inventory and appraisement, which identifies and documents bank accounts, investment portfolios, retirement assets, real and personal property, insurance, and business assets.
Though the Texas Supreme Court provides access to uniform domestic relations forms, many Texas counties have their own local forms and prefer that you use them. Your attorney will know whether there are local forms that should be used.
The Original Petition of Divorce
The original petition of divorce, often referred to as a “divorce complaint,” is a written document filed with the clerk of courts in the county where you seek to have the divorce granted. To have a divorce granted in a specific county, one of the parties to the marriage must have lived in the county for a minimum of 90 days immediately preceding the filing of the original petition. This document must include:
- the legal names and addresses of both parties,
- the date and place the parties were married,
- whether there any minor children from the marriage,
- a statement that one of the parties has resided in the county for the required period of time, and
- the grounds for divorce.
Although Texas allows both at-fault and no-fault divorce proceedings, you still must identify a reason for seeking a divorce. For a no-fault divorce petition, you may simply indicate that the marriage is “insupportable” because of conflicts that have irreparably damaged the marital relationship.
In Texas, you must provide written notice to your spouse that you have filed an original petition of divorce. That legal notice is referred to as “citation.” The citation customarily includes a copy of the original petition. Your spouse may waive the need for a citation but must do so in writing and may not do so until after the original petition is filed. You also may pay an additional fee to have the clerk of the court issue the citation.
Proof of Service of Process
You must provide the court with proof that your spouse received the citation and original petition. If you do not ask the clerk of court to serve your spouse, you must hire an authorized process server to physically deliver the citation and original petition to your spouse. Physical delivery may be done in person, by mail, or by publication (posting a legal notice in a newspaper).
The Decree of Divorce
The decree of divorce is a written document of the terms of a marital dissolution, prepared for the signature of the presiding judge. When signed, it becomes a binding and enforceable court order.
Contact Bailey & Galyen Today
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with one of our experienced divorce attorneys, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 1-844-402-2992. We are ready to take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.