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Divorce Procedure 101: How to File for Divorce in Texas


One of the most frequently asked questions among those looking to file for divorce is “how do i go about starting the process?”  Each state has different requirements and laws to abide by in the process. In the Lone Star State of Texas, the procedure has a number of steps to properly complete filing for divorce. This blog will break down the steps in simple easy to understand points to assist you in the procedure.


First, the Petitioner, otherwise known as the filing spouse, files an Original Petition for Divorce with their local court. Once a petition is filed,  Texas divorce papers will be issued to the petitioner. Then the papers must be personally served to the Respondent, or the other Spouse in question. If needed, at the initial filing, either spouse may request a restraining order if the court deems it necessary.

Waiting for the Judge

Commonly, the court will also consider temporary orders, which will be in effect while the divorce is pending. Temporary orders usually involve temporary use of property and servicing of debt. It can include temporary spousal support and the payment of interim attorney’s fees as well. It is important to have all proper divorce documentation when attending the initial filing as Texas courts are legally inclined to ask for all proof of assets or debts. The process known as “Discovery” can also occur during this time. This is where both parties must exchange copies of all documents, this can be done between spouses or between legal council.

Settlement Procedures

Texas divorce courts always try to settle divorce matters with as little in court sessions as possible. Therefore, once all documents have been exchanged the spouses discuss settlement of the case, either directly or with the help of attorneys or mediators. If they can work out an agreement on everything, one of the spouses or attorneys will prepare an Agreed Decree of Divorce, which will contain all of the terms of the agreement. The spouses and their attorneys sign it, and eventually the judge does as well. however, if a mutual agreement cannot be concluded, a trial date will be set to have the matters handled in court.


Texas Law requires spouses to participate in mediation if they absolutely cannot come to an agreement and a trial is put into effect. Mediation is an informal process allowing the divorcing couple to work with a neutral third party, usually a court appointed therapist or counselor, to negotiate and settle all terms of their conflict. Then if mediation is not successful, the trial will take place. A Final Decree of Divorce is then drawn up by the courts. This contains the ruling passed down in the trial, and the rules and stipulations that both parties must adhere to.

The process can be swift and relatively easy or the exact opposite, all dependent on both parties and their willingness to cooperate with one another and the courts. There is a small amount of paperwork that must be completed in full in order to get the ball rolling on the filing. It is always important to be fully ready for the process that takes place, as divorce proceedings usually take on average, of 6 months to complete.

Texas Courts Allow Divorce Without Lawyers

In today’s economy, budgets are often a necessity. Even marriages with two working spouses have trouble keeping up with all the bills and living comfortably. Yet when divorce enters the picture, it can quickly become a very expensive ordeal. However, Texas lawmakers voted on a motion to help low-income families, and those filing for an easy, uncontested divorce to use forms that will allow them to move through the process without hiring an attorney.

Legal Aid

Recently reported from Texas, six of the nine Supreme Court justices have voted to approve the use of forms allowing  couples to file for divorce in Texas without hiring an attorney. After months of back and forth battling it was finally put to a vote, much to the ire of the group of family lawyers who vehemently opposed the motion.

The reason given by the lawyers was that these legal forms could lead to confusion and many legal complications if/when mistakes are made in the filing process. However, it has been reported that pro bono and legal aid attorneys can only reach about 20% of the divorce service demand last year.

In its Infancy

Back in 2011 a group of lawmakers, including lawyers, judges, and other experts, and the Texas Access to Justice Commission came together to help create the newly approved forms. The opponents of these forms, who are mostly made up of practicing attorneys, have stated that citizens will be unable to navigate the legal system without the help of an attorney. However, as you can see by the website, and the recent rise in online divorce forms, that is just flat out untrue.

What’s in a Form?

The forms may only be used by couples without children or real estate who are seeking a divorce without the aid and expenses of an attorney. The forms are said to be simple and straight forward to help make the judicial part of the process more efficient going forward. The forms are available now, but as a result of a public comment period that will last until February they may undergo some changes.

An even better route for couples both with or without children in preparing Texas divorce forms is filing for an online divorce. At we have already helped served many citizens in Texas with a logical and 100% legal way to help file for an uncontested divorce; helping save time, money, and stress for those couples who know they want to move forward but are dreading the process. To find out more about online divorce forms and how to file for an online divorce in Texas, visit today.