In Texas, when starting a divorce, it’s necessary to “serve” official divorce papers to your spouse. This crucial step informs your spouse about the divorce proceedings, allowing them to respond.
Despite common misconceptions, just because divorce papers are served, it doesn’t mean the couple will necessarily encounter problems during the divorce process in Texas.
Whether couples agree or disagree on getting a divorce, the petitioner—the one initiating the divorce —must give or ‘serve’ divorce papers to the other spouse. This allows the respondent, the other party, to know that the divorce is happening and gives them a chance to respond or give up their rights.
The divorce papers must include several critical legal elements:
- The original petition for divorce
- The grounds for divorce
- The relief the serving spouse is seeking (child custody, spousal support or division of property)
- The waiver of service
The petitioner usually calls for a third party to serve these divorce papers to the respondent. This third party could be a professional process server, a sheriff’s deputy or a constable.
Handing it over
In amicable situations, the petitioner can give the papers, including the waiver, directly to their spouse. For instance, if a wife gives her husband divorce papers and agrees with the terms, he may sign the waiver, showing that he has no issues and that the divorce can officially proceed. The wife must then submit this signed waiver to the court to show that her husband has the pieces of documents and that he knows about the divorce.
If the husband disagrees with the divorce or does not sign the waiver, a sheriff or process server must officially give him the papers. While there is no set deadline for this in Texas, the divorce can only proceed once the husband gets the documents or signs the waiver.
Ultimately, serving divorce papers is not a sign of hostility or animosity but rather a necessary step to initiate the legal process of ending a marriage.