What Happens After Filing for Divorce: Serving Papers Timeline

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By Divorce & Finance

Divorce is a painful process that can leave anyone emotionally drained. If you’re considering filing for divorce, you may wonder how long the process will take and what happens after you file. In this article, we’ll answer some common questions about the divorce process in Texas, including how long it takes to get served with papers and what happens after papers are served.

What is the Divorce Process in Texas?

How to File for Divorce?

The Texas family law requires you to file for divorce in the county where you or your spouse resides. Before filing for divorce, it is crucial to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer who can guide you through the divorce process. A divorce lawyer can help determine the best course of action, explain your legal rights, and advise you on critical issues such as child support, property division, and marital debts.

How Long After Filing for Divorce are Papers Served
How Long After Filing for Divorce are Papers Served

What is a Divorce Petition?

Once you decide to file for divorce, you’ll need to prepare a petition for the court to initiate a divorce proceeding. The divorce petition must contain detailed information about your marriage, children (if any), property, and marital debt. Your divorce lawyer will help you prepare the petition, which must be filed with the court to start your divorce case.

What Happens in a Divorce Case?

After filing the divorce petition, you’ll need to serve the divorce papers on your spouse. The papers include a summons that notifies your spouse of the divorce case and the time limit (typically 20-30 days) within which he/she must respond. If your spouse fails to respond within this period, you can file a motion for default judgment. If your spouse responds within the specified time, the case will proceed to a court hearing.

When Will Papers be Served on My Spouse?

How Long Does it Take to Get Served with Divorce Papers?

Once you file for divorce, you must serve the divorce papers on your spouse. In Texas, you must serve the papers within 90 days of filing. Ideally, this process should take no more than a week, but in some cases, serving the papers can take up to a month. The length of time depends on several factors, including the complexity of the case, how difficult it is to locate your spouse, and the efficiency of the process server.

What is the Legal Process Server?

A legal process server is a person authorized by law to serve legal documents, including divorce papers, on your spouse. A process server can be anyone over the age of 18 who is not a party to the case. The process server must provide proof of service to the court, which includes a signed affidavit stating that the papers were served on the other party.

Can I Serve the Papers Myself?

Under Texas law, you cannot serve divorce papers on your spouse yourself. You must use a legal process server or someone authorized by law to serve the papers. This is to ensure that the service is proper and that the court has jurisdiction over the matter.

What Happens After Papers are Served?

How Does My Spouse Respond to the Divorce?

After your spouse is served with the divorce papers, he/she has 20-30 days (depending on the type of service) to respond. Your spouse can respond by filing an answer to the petition or a counter-petition if he/she disagrees with any of the claims you’ve made in the divorce petition.

Do I Need to Attend a Court Hearing?

Yes, if your spouse responds to the petition, the court will set a hearing date. At the hearing, the judge will hear your arguments and take evidence before making a final ruling. You should have your lawyer present at the hearing to represent you and ensure that your interests are protected.

What is the Role of Temporary Orders and Mediation?

During the divorce proceedings, either spouse can file for temporary orders. These orders can cover several issues, including child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. Temporary orders are usually granted for a specified period until the final decree is issued by the court. Mediation is another option that can help resolve disputes, especially concerning child custody and assets. Mediation is a voluntary process, and both parties must agree to participate.

How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in Texas?

What is the 60-day Waiting Period?

In Texas, there is a mandatory 60-day waiting period from the time of filing for divorce until the court can grant the divorce. This waiting period is intended to give both parties a chance to reconcile and consider alternatives. The waiting period also gives the court enough time to review the case and ensure that all legal requirements for divorce have been satisfied.

What if My Spouse Refuses to Sign the Divorce Papers?

If your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers, you must serve the papers on him/her formally. If your spouse still refuses to accept the papers, you can file a motion with the court requesting permission to serve them by an alternative method, such as publication in a local newspaper.

What Happens to Our Property and Division of Assets?

In Texas, all property acquired during the marriage is considered community property, and the court will divide it equitably between the parties. The division of assets can be a complex issue that requires careful consideration and negotiation. A divorce lawyer can help you protect your interests and ensure that the division of assets is fair and equitable.

What Happens if I am Unable to Serve the Divorce Papers?

Can I Give the Papers to a Family Member?

No, you cannot give the papers to a family member to serve your spouse. Only a legal process server or someone authorized by law can serve the papers.

What if My Spouse Cannot be Located?

If your spouse cannot be located, you can still get a divorce, but you must follow a different process that involves giving notice by publication in a local newspaper. The court will also appoint an attorney ad litem to represent your spouse’s interests.

What are My Options If I Can’t Get Served?

If you cannot serve the divorce papers on your spouse, you can file a motion with the court requesting alternative service methods. The court may authorize service through certified mail, personal delivery, or publication in a local newspaper. However, the court will only authorize alternative service methods if you’ve made a significant effort to locate and serve your spouse.

In conclusion, filing for divorce in Texas can be a complicated process that requires legal knowledge and expertise. If you’re considering filing for divorce, it’s essential to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process, protect your interests, and ensure that your legal rights are preserved.

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