Petition for Divorce
In Texas, your formal request for a divorce is called a petition for divorce. The person who files the petition for divorce is called the petitioner; the petitioner’s spouse is called the respondent. On the petition, you must include your name, your spouse’s name, your respective addresses, if known, and information about your joint property and children. The petition should include your grounds for divorce and inform the court about any domestic violence issues. The no-fault ground for divorce in Texas is insupportability, which means the marriage can no longer continue due to disagreements or differences the parties cannot resolve. There are also six other grounds for divorce in Texas, but they require one spouse to place blame on the other. At the end of the petition, you ask the court to grant your divorce, settle any custody and property issues and, if you choose, restore your former name. Consider consulting an online legal document preparation website to prepare your petition.
File your petition for divorce by visiting the clerk of the Dallas County District Court. The clerk will take your petition and provide “file-stamped” copies for your records and to give to your spouse. You will be required to pay a fee for filing your petition as well as fees for any service-related documents. Consult the clerk for a current fee schedule.
Service by Waiver
The process of notifying your spouse that you have filed for divorce is called service. Your spouse must be served with the petition before you can proceed with your divorce. The easiest way to serve your spouse is by waiver of service. To do this, prepare a “waiver of citation” document that allows your spouse to acknowledge he received a copy of the petition. Give your spouse a file-stamped copy of your petition and the waiver of citation form. Once your spouse has signed the waiver, file it with the clerk. The waiver must be filed at least 10 days before your divorce can be finalized.
Service by Constable or Process Server
If your spouse will not voluntarily sign a waiver of citation, you may have the Dallas Country Constable or a private process server deliver your petition and a “citation.” The citation is prepared by the Dallas County District Court clerk and gives your spouse formal notice that you have filed for divorce. After the Constable or process server has served your spouse, he will file an affidavit with the clerk certifying service on your spouse.
Service by Publication or Posting
Finally, if you are unable to locate your spouse after a diligent search, you may serve your spouse by publication or posting. Service by publication or posting is more complex than other methods of service and requires a court order in Texas. Contact the Dallas County District Court clerk for more information if you must serve by publication or posting.
In Texas, the court will not grant your divorce until your petition has been filed for 60 days. This waiting period gives your spouse an opportunity to respond to your petition with an “answer.” You may also use this time to negotiate with your spouse concerning issues like property division and custody. You may ask the court to grant temporary orders dealing with custody, child support or other issues during the waiting period.