Filing for a divorce is a very personal and difficult decision. Navigating the court system and filing for a divorce while making this difficult decision can be a very stressful process. Knowing the process can ease that stress and provide some structure when you are facing a lot of uncertainty. Outlined below are the steps associated with initiating a divorce.
- Filing the Petition
- The first step in starting every divorce is filing the petition. This begins the 60 day waiting period. During this waiting period, a divorce cannot be finalized unless an exception is met. However, no divorce is truly finalized during such a short time. Even in most uncontested divorces, the finalization of a divorce requires more than 60 days.
- Service of Citation
- Once a petition is filed, the next step is to serve the opposing side with the citation which notifies the opposing side that a divorce has been filed and they must respond within a certain time period. This step is crucial as every opposing party is entitled to notice of a suit filed against them. The most common manner in which service is provided is through a service processor who hand delivers the divorce petition to the opposing party. In uncontested cases, the other side can elect to accept service and sign a waiver of service which is considered proper notice of the divorce suit as well.
- Answer by Opposing Side
- Once service is complete the other party has a set amount of time in which they must respond to the divorce petition. The answer period starts from the moment that the opposing party is handed the petition for divorce. Failure to file an answer allows the filing party to obtain a default judgment.
- Initial Disclosures
- After an answer is filed all parties are required to answer disclosures pursuant to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. These disclosures include, among other things, verification of the names of the parties, a list of any potential parties, a calculation of damages and proof associated with said damages, names of individuals with knowledge of relevant facts, and a list or copy of documents in support of an individual’s case. Subsequent to responding to initial disclosures, the parties conduct additional discovery, often times attend mediation, and if they cannot resolve it between themselves the matter goes to final trial where a judge or a jury makes decisions on contested issues.
These steps merely begin a complicated process that can be long and time-consuming. If you are guided by someone familiar with the process you can reduce your stress and allowing you to focus on the decisions about your life impacted by the divorce rather than on the intricate details of the legal system.
For further questions, please check our website or contact one of our Attorneys, at PLGLitigation@patellegal.com