Why Should One File a Counter Suit in a Texas Divorce?

By Maria Hahalis

If you are going through a divorce in Texas and do not know the laws, it may make an already difficult process more stressful. A divorce can be either contested or uncontested. You may think that if both you and your spouse want a divorce that it isn't necessary to file a countersuit; however, a countersuit, or counter-petition, may be necessary, depending on your situation. Understanding how Texas divorce laws work will help you make the right choices to protect your interests.

Petition for Divorce

To begin the divorce process in Texas, one party must file a petition for divorce, which is essentially a lawsuit, with the court. The petition alleges the grounds for divorce and requests orders for division of property and custody of the children, if applicable. If your spouse files a petition and then formally serves you with divorce papers, you have 20 days to respond and file an answer, regardless of whether you decide to file a counter-petition. A counter-petition allows you to raise issues not addressed by your spouse's petition.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is one in which both parties are not in agreement that they want a divorce, or don't agree on the division of property and/or a custody arrangement. If your divorce is contested, a counter-petition can assert what you believe is the best way to split your assets, as well as the custody arrangement you seek. A divorce may be granted in Texas even if both parties do not want one. A counter-petition does not stop the divorce process; it merely protects your interests throughout the proceeding.

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Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties want the divorce and agree on custody and property division. In this situation, one party typically files the petition for divorce and the other party signs a waiver, which waives the right to service and does not trigger the requirement to file a formal answer. As such, there isn't a counter-petition. If your divorce starts out uncontested and then the situation changes, you would have to file a petition to amend your waiver, and then file the answer or counterclaim.

Temporary Orders

Temporary orders are standard in all divorce proceedings and govern what the parties can and cannot do during the divorce process until the divorce is final. If your divorce is contested, there may be specific things you want to happen during the waiting period before your divorce is final. The counter-petition can include requests for certain temporary orders that secure financial support and living arrangements throughout the divorce proceedings.

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How to File an Original Petition for Divorce in Texas

References

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You and your spouse may want a divorce, but are worried it could be expensive. You also may wonder if you are able to get a divorce on your own. Texas allows you to get a divorce without having an attorney represent you. Representing yourself in a divorce is called pro se. Understanding what the pro se requirements are to get a divorce can help you figure out what you and your spouse need to agree on for a divorce to move quickly and to make the process less difficult for everyone involved.

What Is a Motion to Expedite Consideration in a Divorce Case?

The divorce process can involve all kinds of emergency situations. Maybe your spouse is threatening to take your child out of state, or the mortgage is about to foreclose unless somebody pays it. You can file motions any time you need the court to address issues while your divorce is pending. A motion to expedite consideration asks the judge for special dispensation so you don't have to wait as long as it might ordinarily take to get into court.

How Long Do You Have to Wait to Get a Divorce in DC?

If you want your divorce case to move quickly, you and your spouse should try to come to an agreement regarding all issues of your divorce, including the division of marital property and child custody arrangements. In Washington D.C., an uncontested divorce, in which the spouses are in agreement, generally takes two to three months from the date you file the divorce complaint to be finalized. In contrast, a contested divorce, in which the spouses cannot come to an agreement on their own but need the court’s assistance, can take 18 months or longer.

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