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Where to Start: Beginning Divorce Proceedings

Original Petition

Once you have consulted with your attorney and made the decision to file for a divorce in Texas, your lawyer will prepare an original petition. This is a document that sets out the relief you are requesting, including

  • Granting a divorce
  • Dividing your community property
  • Granting child custody/visitation and support, if applicable
  • Name change, if applicable
  • A request for temporary orders

Special Circumstances

If there are special circumstances, additional relief may be requested. You will not need to sign the petition, but if you wish look at it and review it before it is filed, you may do so. Once the petition is filed, the case will be assigned to one of the courts and we will ask the court to have your spouse served with process, either by the sheriff, constable or a private process server. If you think your spouse will agree to accept service and sign a waiver, we will mail a copy of the petition and a letter explaining what it contains and the effect of signing it, to your spouse, and ask him or her to sign the waiver in order to avoid being served. If your spouse signs the waiver, we file it with the court and can then proceed with the divorce.

Temporary Orders

Usually the first order of business is to put temporary orders in place which govern the conduct of the parties while the divorce is pending. Their primary purpose is to maintain the status quo, that is, to prevent one spouse from hiding or spending all of the community property, to keep a spouse from turning off utilities or canceling insurance policies, to determine child custody, award the exclusive use of the marital residence to one spouse, award the exclusive use of a vehicle or vehicles to one spouse, set out which spouse pays what bills, and who will pay temporary spousal and/or child support, if applicable, among other things. These temporary orders remain in effect while the divorce is pending. In Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties, there is a standing order that is served with all divorce petitions that mandates certain conduct of the parties and is effective without a hearing or further order of the court. Our policy is to try to reach an agreement with your spouse and opposing counsel regarding temporary orders, in order to avoid the time and expense of a court hearing, however, if we cannot reach an agreement, then we will go to court and have a short trial, to ask the court to make those decisions.

If you are the party who is served with a petition for divorce, consult your attorney immediately to make sure you are not doing anything in violation of the standing order or temporary orders and to file an answer on your behalf. If you have questions about anything be sure to reach out to our divorce attorneys for any legal advice.

Valin L. Woodward

After being licensed in 1979, Ms. Woodward’s practice for many years was primarily in the area of insurance defense and products liability, with experience in complex multi-district litigation and commercial litigation. After moving back to her home town of New Braunfels in 2005, she has focuse...

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