Divorce

Divorce

The filing of the petition for divorce legally begins the divorce. It is the document that asks the Court to legally dissolve your marriage. This document will be served on your spouse to tell them they are being divorced regardless of whether or not they want to be. If your divorce is uncontested, your spouse may be willing to waive service to save the cost, and embarrassment, of having a private process server go to their office or home and physically hand them a copy of the petition and citation. After being served, if your spouse doesn't file an answer to your petition within the allotted time, your spouse will be in default and will have waived their right to be present at trial and to put on evidence, and after hearing only your side of the story, the Court will make its rulings.

You can file a petition for divorce on your own if you know the correct form and procedure for filing it. Typically however, the judges and clerks frown on people representing themselves because you are expected to know all the correct legal procedures without their assistance.

If you and your spouse can agree on every issue, and have little or no property, reside in Dallas or Collin County, and just need an attorney to draft and file the petition and decree of divorce, and conduct a "prove-up", Jackson & Collins typically completes uncontested divorces like these from $750.00 to $1,000.00 in attorneys fees, given the inevitable trading of phone calls or correspondence that will arise.

Petition

An action for divorce, like all civil actions, is commenced by filing a petition with the clerk of the appropriate court. The petition must contain a statement, in plain and concise language, of the petitioner's cause of action and claims for relief. A commonly neglected requirement is that the allegations of the grounds for relief must be stated substantially in the language of the statute and without a detailed statement of evidentiary facts, often those drafting the petition chronicle pages of events leading up to the divorce, often to the displeasure of the Court. Similarly, the contents of each paragraph should be limited, to the extent practicable, to a statement of a single set of circumstances. The first pleading in a suit for divorce must include a "Statement on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)." The statement must be in substantially the language of the Family Code acknowledging petitioner's awareness of nonjudicial settlement methods (ADR), and promising to try to settle the case by such a method, and must be specifically signed.

Filing

The action for dissolution of marriage is commenced by the filing of the original petition with the clerk of the proper court and payment of the required filing fees. Once the case is filed-stamped and assigned a number and court, arrangements may then be made for the judge to sign any temporary restraining order or show-cause order, completing the blanks for the hearing for interim relief

Citation and Service

When an original petition in a dissolution suit is filed, citation must be issued and served as in other civil cases. The purpose of citation is to give a party notice that the party has been sued and afford that party an opportunity to protect his or her interests. Service of citation also perfects the court's jurisdiction over the person and property of a party who is a resident of Texas or who is subject to jurisdiction of the Texas court's under a so-called "long-arm" statute; no judgment may be rendered against a party except on service of process, unless the party has accepted or waived service or has entered a general appearance. Toward that end, a true copy of every pleading, plea, motion, or application to the court for an order, unless presented during a hearing or trial, must be filed with the clerk in writing and served on all other parties.

Generally, citation must be served on the respondent in the dissolution suit. As is true for any civil lawsuit, no judgment may be rendered against a person unless the person was served with process, or accepted or waived service or otherwise entered a general appearance.

The basic methods of serving citation are:

•   Personal service by delivery of the citation and accompanying papers to the respondent by a person authorized to serve citation.

•   Service by mailing a copy of the citation and the petition to the respondent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested.

•   Service of the citation and petition on some other person authorized by law to receive service on behalf of the respondent.

•   Publication of the citation in a newspaper when the respondent's whereabouts are unknown.