The divorce process typically commences when the petitioner files for divorce. Subsequently, the other spouse, or the respondent, receives notice of the petition. Filing for divorce in Texas requires the couple to have lived in the state for a minimum of six months. Moreover, the petition for divorce must be submitted in the county where the couple has lived for the previous 90 days.
If there is sufficient grounds for divorce, such as adultery, the petitioner may note these grounds so as to gain a tactical advantage. The petitioner may also include the desired outcome of the divorce, such as what the petitioner would have the court order in the event that the divorce is disputed.
Two copies of the petition should be made before they are submitted to the District Clerk’s office. All of the copies are dated, and while the original is filed, the respondent is notified with the second copy. This can be done in multiple ways. The first is to have the respondent sign a citation waiver in person. The citation is a notice that a petition for divorce was filed. The second way is to hire a county constable or private process server to serve the citation. If the respondent cannot be found, the court orders the respondent to be served by posting or publication.
After being notified, the respondent has until the Monday after 20 days have passed since being served to answer the petition. Doing so allows the respondent to receive notification about all court hearings and to appear for those proceedings. A divorce may move forward even if an answer from the respondent is not filed.
When a petition is disputed, the divorce process may become more complicated and adversarial. Thus, retaining the counsel of a family law attorney is imperative for both spouses, petitioners and respondents. For example, the lawyer may assist the petitioner in wording the grounds for divorce so as to gain the greatest advantage possible.
Source: State Bar of Texas, “Pro Se Divorce Handbook“, October 11, 2014