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Beginning the divorce process

In Texas and throughout the country, many individuals find legal proceedings daunting or confusing, and divorce is no different. An attorney can make the divorce process easier, but it is possible to complete the process without an attorney. However, rules regarding the divorce process in Texas are very strict, and if they are not followed properly, the case can be thrown out of court and must be started again.

The first step in the divorce process is filing the petition. This document is filed with the county where at least one spouse has resided for 90 days or more. It outlines the basic reason for the divorce. Under 'no-fault" law, a spouse does not have to accuse the other spouse of wrongdoing in the petition. They can simply state that the couple has irreconcilable differences. The other spouse must then be notified of the petition. There are several ways to do this, but it must be done according to the law in order for the notification to be valid.

The other spouse then has the opportunity to respond to the divorce. They can file a counter-petition with their own claims and expectations from property division. Once the spouse has answered or, in some cases, failed to respond after being served, the case enters a waiting period of 60 days. This allows the couple time to possibly reconcile before moving forward to finalize the divorce.

Beginning a divorce can sometimes be the most difficult part of the process. This is especially true if the other spouse is difficult to locate or if communication is limited. An attorney can assist with many aspects of the divorce, such as the proper wording of the petition or counter-petition, to ensure that it can move forward.

Source: The State Bar of Texas, "Pro Se Divorce Handbook", October 20, 2014

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