Overview of Divorce Proceedings
A divorce action is a civil lawsuit that is created when one spouse sues the other to terminate the existing marriage.
Jurisdiction and Venue
The general rule is that Texas courts have jurisdiction over the marriage if one of the spouse’s has resided in Texas for at least 6 months prior to the date of filing suit. The divorce action is filed in the county where the spouse has resided in for at least 90 days prior to the date suit was filed: This is known as venue. There are many exceptions and rules to the issues of jurisdiction and venue, if you have a case that does not fall into the general 6/90 rule, seek the assistance of an attorney.
Filing the Petition
To initiate a divorce proceeding, a “petition” is filed in the district clerk’s office. Once the petition has been filed, the Petitioner must serve it on the non-filing spouse, otherwise known as the Respondent. Service is typically effectuated by hiring a service processor to physically serve the Respondent a copy of the petition. The Respondent can execute a Waiver of Service in order to avoid the costs of service: This is a common approach in an uncontested divorce. Although Texas law requires a 60-day “cooling off period” from the date of filing to the first date that a divorce can be granted, it is good practice for the Respondent to file an Original Answer to avoid a "default" divorce.
The Divorce Process
Undoubtedly, each case has its own unique characteristics; thus, requiring an attorney to assess the matter. It is unwise to leave one of the most important decisions in your life, one that has future ramifications, to a "cookie-cutter" template approach. Thus, with reserved caution, the following should be viewed only as a roadmap to the civil litigation process, each case will likely require a slightly different approach: Petition is filed and served → Answer is filed and served → Hearing to decide temporary orders is held → Discovery is requested → Information on assets, children, and other issues is gathered → Additional hearings may be needed over a multitude of issues → Final hearing is scheduled → Pretrial documents are filed → Mediation is held → Trial subpoenas are served → Trial is held → Final decree of divorce is entered → Closing documents are drafted and executed.
As illustrated above, the divorce process can be complicated and daunting. Not every case follows the above process; however, each case touches-to some degree-most of the steps outlined. Throughout the rest of our website, we discuss some of the process, but even, a detailed explanation is not a substitute for counsel; thus, it is advisable that you obtain the assistance of an attorney. Of course, Rob Galvin, P.C. is here to help you, but even if you choose to work with another firm, the importance of hiring an attorney to protect your interest cannot be over emphasized.