Responding to a Summons & Complaint Divorce in Texas

By Beverly Bird

A complaint for divorce is called a petition in Texas, while a summons is called a citation. The state's rules for serving and responding to these papers are similar to those in other jurisdictions.

A complaint for divorce is called a petition in Texas, while a summons is called a citation. The state's rules for serving and responding to these papers are similar to those in other jurisdictions.

Service of Petition

After your spouse files her petition for divorce, she must make sure you receive a copy. She can ask the county sheriff or constable to deliver the papers to you, or use a private process server approved by the court. If your divorce is amicable, she can give you the papers herself and you can waive official service. The petition tells you what she's requesting as part of the divorce, while the citation explains when and how you should respond.

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Time to Respond

Texas gives you 20 days to respond to your spouse's petition, but you usually have a little more time than this -- up until 10:00 a.m. on the first Monday after the 20th day. If the 20th day is a Tuesday, you actually have six more days, until the following Monday morning, to file. You can submit a simple document called an answer, letting the court know that you want to be involved in the proceedings. You can also file a counter-petition, telling the court what you want the judge to award you. If you do nothing, your spouse can ask for a divorce by default -- and in this case, the court will generally give her everything she requested in her petition.

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The Response to a Petition for Dissolution

References

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New Jersey Petition For Divorce

Every divorce action begins with filing a document that lets the court know you want to end your marriage. In some states, it’s called a petition for divorce or dissolution. In New Jersey, it’s a complaint for divorce. Depending on your divorce grounds, it can be a relatively simple document to prepare.

Divorce Without Two Signers

If your spouse objects to a divorce and has stated that he will not sign any papers, it is still possible to end the marriage. In such instances, the spouse requesting the divorce will first need to prepare the paperwork and attempt to engage her spouse in the proceedings. Although a divorce with only one signer can be more time consuming than a divorce in which both spouses participate, it will still have the same effect — dissolution of the marriage.

How Soon Can I Get a Divorce After a Spouse is Served in Texas?

As in most states, how quickly you can get a Texas divorce depends on how complicated your divorce is, not how much time passes after you serve your spouse with the necessary divorce paperwork. Texas imposes a waiting period, but if you and your spouse have no property or children, or if you agree on every aspect of how you're going to end your marriage, you could be divorced a day after the waiting period ends. If you can't reach an agreement, your divorce will take much longer.

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