All divorces in Texas begin with the filing of a petition. The type of petition will differ in form and substance depending on whether you have any minor children or property to be divided. If there are no children or property, the petition need only provide basic information about the marriage, how long each party has lived in the state, and include your signed request for divorce. Parties with children and property need to provide more detailed content in the petition, including the names and ages of the children and a description and location of all real property and other assets the parties wish to divide, such as pensions or 401(k) forms.
Every divorce petition must be accompanied by a receipt or waiver of service, known as a citation or waiver of citation in Texas. The purpose of the citation is to provide notice to the non-filing spouse that a divorce action has been initiated. If the non-filing spouse is willing to accept the citation by mail or in person, he or she may sign the waiver and it can be included with the petition. If the non-filing spouse is unwilling to sign the waiver, it needs to be served by a sheriff or by the court through registered mail. If the petition is served by the sheriff, you must file a copy of the citation with the court.
As part of the Texas divorce petition, a case information sheet is required. The case information sheet is used for administrative and statistical purposes and requests basic information about each spouse and the marriage. For parties with minor children, a Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship may need to be filed. The SAPCR form is also for administrative purposes and requests information about the children, including whether establishing child support and paternity are part of the divorce.
Depending on the nature of your case and where it is filed, additional forms may be necessary. If you or your child has been the victim of domestic violence, you may file a written request for a protective order. You may also request temporary orders regarding custody, support and property either with the petition or by motion at a later date. Further, some counties require you to file a divorce decree along with the petition, and in other counties the court handles this step for you. The divorce decree is a proposed order dissolving the marriage for the judge to sign.