Filing For Divorce: A How-To-Guide For The Holidays

When the weather begins to turn cold, it signals the start of a series of get-togethers with family and friends, from Thanksgiving to New Year's.  At the best of times, these occasions are loving, fun, and enjoyable.  But when a marriage is simply not working out, holiday festivities can make it clear that it's time to move forward with legal action.

Where to begin when filing for divorce?  If you've never had to deal with the court system before, you may not even know the right court to begin filing paperwork with. We will help you understand the legal rules about where to file for a divorce: if you meet the residency requirements of six months in the state and ninety days in the county, you can file for divorce in that county. And as long as your spouse lives in Texas, then Texas can assert jurisdiction over the case and over your spouse. If your spouse lives in another state, you'll need to show "grounds," or reasons, why the divorce should take place in a Texas court.  We at Puhl and Berbarie are experienced in finding grounds for asserting jurisdiction over your out-of-state spouse so that your divorce suit can proceed in Texas.  At a minimum, the Texas court will have the power to grant you a divorce no matter where your spouse resides. Of course, if there are children involved, a divorce case can become more complicated.  If you are living in Texas with your children, but your spouse is not, the Texas court will have the power to make temporary orders to protect the immediate safety and welfare of your children.  For the Texas court to gain full jurisdiction over your out-of-state spouse for purposes of making complete orders concerning the children, you will have to show the court that there are statutory grounds for that to occur. Once you have filed suit for divorce, the next step is to give your spouse formal notice that you have done so.  The normal procedure is to have a process server personally hand the paperwork to your spouse and then notify the court that he has done so.  Alternatively, you can hand the papers to your spouse and ask that he or she either retain counsel to file an answer to the lawsuit or sign a waiver of service.  Either way, it is essential that some document be filed with the court, proving that your spouse has in fact received legal notice that a suit for divorce has been filed. The state and county charge a fee for filing a suit for divorce, and the process server charges a fee to serving the papers on your spouse.  These costs to get the case filed and started, not including attorney's fees, will vary from approximately $300 to $500. There's never a "good" time to start divorce proceedings.  But if it has become clear that divorce is the right next step for you, we can help.

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