What Should A Spouse Do After Receiving Divorce Papers?

Receiving divorce papers in Texas can be a big surprise, especially for spouses that did not expect it or that may disagree with getting a divorce.

Regardless of how a receiving spouse may feel about ending their marriage, divorce attorneys stress that they do have a duty to respond to those papers in some way once they have been served.

Though divorce lawyers find that many feel they can delay the inevitable by ignoring the papers, this is not so.

Ignoring divorce papers will only prevent that spouse from properly representing themselves during a process that can continue on without them.

What Are The Options When Served With Divorce Papers?

So, what options do Texas spouses have when they have been served with divorce papers?

Spouses receiving divorce papers technically have the right to not respond, but family divorce attorneys warn that in doing so, the court interprets this as waiving the right to representation while the process continues.

By failing to file a legal response through divorce lawyers, served spouses will still end up divorced and be required to accept whatever judgment the court approves.

They have waived their right to retain respresentation with family divorce attorneys to contest the divorce, negotiate the division of marital property and debt, negotiate child custody concerns, and must accept the default judgment of the family court without question.

What About Waiving Service?

Similarly, when a spouse understands that they will be served and do not wish to be retain the services of a divorce lawyer or be involved in any negotiations, they can also fill out a waiver of service.

This form basically states that they do not need to actually be served and that they waive their right to participate in any negotiations, that they do not contest the divorce in any way, and will accept the family court’s judgment.

Divorce attorneys also do not recommend this for most couples, but this response is preferred over outright ignoring the papers altogether.

Better Choice Is To File A Response

Spouses who instead would like to retain their rights throughout the divorce process and retain the services of a family divorce attorney, whether they wish to contest the divorce or file uncontested, are advised instead to file an official response form within the required response period.

The response period in Texas is usually the Monday after reaching 20 days since receipt of the papers, whether that is by mail or in person.

The options for responding are to hire a divorce attorney to either return the included respondent’s official answer form or to return the form and include a counter-petition form to contest the divorce terms as stated in the petition that was served.

Let's Add All This Up

Anyone served with divorce papers in Texas should always respond in some way by the response date, regardless of how they feel about actually getting divorced. A local family divorce attorney can help them make the right choice and file the right response.