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The final step in a divorce

Texas law requires that all marriages in the state be ended with a final appearance before the court and the issuance of a final decree of divorce. When there is complete consensus on the disposition of debts, liabilities, community property and child support arrangements between the two divorcing parties, then they may fill out the final decree on their own and bring it in for a short series of questions and testimony known as the "prove-up."

If one ex-spouse will be paying child support to the other, then the court will need a copy of any applicable employee's withholding order. The partner who is requesting the divorce must bring proof that the other spouse was served with the papers or an official waiver of service that was stamped and processed at least ten days previously. All information must be provided in triplicate.

When the case is called, the person petitioning for the divorce must approach the bench and give the judge the necessary documentation, including the completed final decree. They may then read from a short script that may cover all relevant issues, although the judge might still have further questions to ask. If everything is to the judge's satisfaction, then he or she will sign and date the final decree. From that moment on the couple are considered to be divorced.

If there is contention between the departing partners over any substantial issue relating to the divorce, then it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney. Either spouse will have the right to file an appeal against any decision made by the judge for 30 days, and an attorney may be helpful in framing and delivering that appeal.

Source: State Bar of Texas, "Pro Se Divorce Handbook", November 10, 2014

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