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Process of Filing for Divorce

Family Law Attorneys Assisting People in the Dallas Area

When people contemplate ending their marriages, they often focus on the emotional and financial ramifications without considering what the process of filing for divorce entails. It is important for anyone who wishes to obtain a divorce to seek advice about the legal requirements and procedures for dissolving the marital relationship to prevent an unintentional waiver of rights, and to avoid developing unrealistic expectations regarding the outcome of the divorce. If you wish to end your marriage or were recently served with papers, the skillful Dallas divorce attorneys of McClure Law Group can advise you of your options and assist you in taking the steps necessary to protect your interests.

The Process of Filing for Divorce in Texas

A person who wishes to file a divorce petition in Texas must first meet the residency requirements. In other words, either the person filing, who is known as the petitioner, or the person’s spouse, known as the respondent, must reside in Texas for at least six months prior to when the divorce suit is filed, and must live in the county in which the petition is filed for at least ninety days prior to filing. The petitioner may seek a divorce on the basis of insupportability, the term Texas uses for a no-fault divorce, which essentially means that the marriage has become unsustainable, but that neither party caused the downfall of the marriage. A petitioner can also seek a divorce on fault-based grounds, such as cruelty, adultery, confinement in a mental hospital, conviction of a felony resulting in imprisonment for a year or more, and living apart. The petition must also state whether the spouses have any minor children.

Process of Obtaining a Divorce

Once the divorce petition is filed, the petitioner must serve the petition on the respondent unless the respondent signs a waiver of service. The petitioner can also request that the court issue a temporary restraining order, barring either spouse from incurring debt, spending money, selling assets, or engaging in harassing or threatening behavior. If a temporary restraining order is issued, the court will schedule a hearing within fourteen days, after which the court may enter a temporary injunction against both spouses. A seasoned divorce lawyer can help you navigate proceedings of this nature.

In some cases, a couple may be able to obtain an uncontested divorce, which means they agree on issues such as the division of property, child custody, and child and spousal support. Most divorces are contested, though, which means the parties disagree as to how important issues should be resolved. In contested divorces, the respondent must file an answer to the petition by the first Monday after the expiration of twenty days from being served, and if an answer is not filed, a default judgment can be entered against the respondent, which means that he or she waives the right to dispute the petitioner’s assertions as to how matters should be resolved. If the respondent files an answer, the parties will engage in an exchange of information regarding assets, debt, expenses, income, and other information pertinent to the division of marital property, as well as child support and spousal maintenance. If the parties are unable to resolve disputed issues, they may be ordered to attend mediation, and if mediation and settlement is ultimately unsuccessful, a trial will be held. After the trial, the judge will issue an order that will be set forth in a final divorce decree providing for the terms of the divorce, including provisions for child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance if necessary.

Regardless of whether a divorce is contested or uncontested, Texas, with limited exceptions, has a mandatory sixty-day waiting period that must pass before the court can issue a final divorce decree, and that begins to run on the date the petition was filed. Even after a divorce is final, however, neither spouse can remarry before the thirty-first day after the final decree was filed.

Speak to an Experienced Dallas Attorney About Your Divorce Case

It is critical for people who are ending their marriages to understand the process of filing for divorce, and what measures they should take to safeguard their rights. If you or your spouse intend to seek a marital dissolution, the experienced divorce lawyers of McClure Law Group can guide you through the process. Our primary office is in Dallas, and we are available to meet by appointment at our Collin County office in Plano. We routinely represent people in divorce matters in Dallas, Rockwall, Richardson, Irving, Garland, Fort Worth, McKinney, and Frisco. We also assist people with family law matters in cities in Dallas, Denton, Grayson, Rockwall, Collin, and Tarrant Counties. We can be reached at 214.692.8200 or via the online form to set up a meeting.

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