Getting divorced is a fairly easy process, though it does require following a specific procedure, including filing a petition for divorce.
Because the process can seem confusing at first, many choose to turn to divorce lawyers to help them understand the process and get it started, then represent them later during the negotiations.
The petition for divorce is essentially a notice to the court that divorce is sought by a spouse and the starting point from where they and their divorce attorney wish to begin the divorce and/or negotiation process to get the divorce procedure in motion.
To accomplish this, divorce law firms can help clients through the step-by-step process of filing the petition for divorce to get the process going:
- Identify Which County Has Jurisdiction - A divorce petition must be filed by a divorce attorney in a county that has jurisdiction based on one of the two spouses meeting certain residency requirements. To file in Texas, one spouse must have lived in the state of Texas for at least the last 6 months. To file in a county, the filer must have lived in that county for at least the last 90 days.
- Determine Whether Contested or Uncontested - When spouses agree to divorce and work out terms amicably, divorce lawyers encourage the filing of a simpler, uncontested divorce. If there is no agreement to divorce or there are other issues that spouses cannot agree on, a contested divorce can be filed. It is highly recommended that those filing contested divorces retain their divorce attorney to help them through the process of negotiating a contested divorce and, if necessary, represent them in divorce court.
- Structure the Petition - The contents of the petition should be structured by a law firm to reflect a contested or uncontested divorce plus document and address other issues such as residency requirements, how the papers will be served to the other spouse, any grounds, any required marital and separation information, plans to divide property, custody decisions, and other essential information. An experienced divorce lawyer can help with the structuring of a valid petition for divorce.
- File the Petition - Once filled out, the petition is normally filed by the representing law firm with the county clerk, who will assign a case number and a court number to the case.
- Serve the Petition - Once the petition has been drafted and filed and a case number officially assigned, the spouse will be served with papers. What happens from that point forward depends on the other spouse’s response.
In summary, to begin any divorce proceeding, those wishing to file should discuss their situation with an experienced divorce lawyer who can help them determine where to file, how to file, and document all the pertinent information required to file the required petition for divorce.