Have you been thinking about getting a divorce but don’t know where to start? Has your marriage been going in a bad direction for some time but you’ve just never really taken the time to consider what your options were? If you answered yes to either of these questions then you are in the right place. No, I’m not going to use this blog post as an advertisement for getting divorced. Your reasons for getting divorced are likely specific to your situation and not based all that much on the opinions of other people. However, I hope you’ll consider my opinions in the information contained in this blog post as you begin to collect additional perspectives on divorce and whether or not you should get divorced.
Ultimately, the decision to get divorced needs to be one that you arrive at dependently. Feeling coerced or pressured into getting a divorce by friends or family is no way to start a new phase of your life. For one, you may be in a marriage that is salvageable and have a relationship that could be repaired with diligent effort. On the other hand, you may also be able to talk with your spouse about counseling or other remedial measures intended to avoid getting a divorce. Just because you and your spouse are not living together or are separated does not mean that a divorce is inevitable. You have options to choose from but time is of the essence.
Of course, there are reasons why a divorce may be necessary sooner rather than later. If you have been the victim of abuse, infidelity, or abandonment then nobody would blame you if he felt like getting divorced was the right decision for you and your family. It is human nature to consider the impact of your decisions on other people. If you do not have any children under the age of 18 and are not responsible for taking care of anyone else but yourself then that decision may become a little bit easier considering the other circumstances in your life.
In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, I would like to share with you my thoughts on getting a divorce when you are a married person without young children. What are some of the factors that you need to think about when getting a divorce And have no small children at home? Do you need to consider the same factors as a person with children or would your divorce look significantly different? That is what we will be discussing in today’s blog post.
Getting a divorce in Texas: what are the steps required to get a divorce?
You likely know of the basics of getting a divorce from having spoken with friends, family, or even family law attorneys. The first step to getting a divorce is not moving out of the house you share with your spouse. There is no such thing as a legal separation in Texas and simply moving out of the house does not begin your divorce. Likewise, telling your spouse that you are going to get a divorce in the future also does not start a divorce. Rather, some steps must be followed from a legal standpoint to begin a divorce in Texas.
First, you must file an original divorce petition. That is tried and true original document for a divorce in Texas. It contains the who, what, where, when, and why related to your divorce. You and your spouse will be identified. Your date or marriage, date of separation, and your cause (if any) for filing divorce will be mentioned. If you are not citing a specific cause for your divorce then yours will be known as a no-fault divorce. Fault grounds like infidelity, abandonment, abuse, or coercion may play a role in how your community property is divided. Otherwise, you can get divorced for no specific reason at all. As I tell people about divorce: you can be divorced for simply not liking the way that your spouse chews their dinner at night.
The original divorce petition will be filed in the county where you are a resident. Residency is key when it comes to a court having jurisdiction over your case. You must have been a resident of Texas for at least six months before the filing of your divorce, as well as a resident of the county where you are filing for at least three months before the filing of your divorce. Without meeting these qualifications the court can choose to not hear your case or your spouse can file for divorce in a County or state where jurisdiction is proper and you may have to move forward with the divorce that is not on your home turf. Not only will you have wasted time but also money in filing for divorce in a County where jurisdiction is not held in a venue is not proper.
Assuming that jurisdiction is proper in the County where you are filing then The next step for you to contend with would be notifying your spouse of the divorce. Notice in a divorce is not as simple as sending a text message or email to your spouse about the paperwork having been filed. Rather, you must provide your spouse with legal notice of the petition having been filed. This can be accomplished either through personal service, an alternative method of service, or through the filing of a waiver of service.
What are the methods to provide notice to your spouse of the divorce lawsuit?
The most tried and true method to provide notice to your spouse of the divorce is to have him or her served with a citation, petition for divorce, and any other documents from the court. Personal services are typically effectuated through hiring a private process server or constable to pick up your documents from the courthouse and then personally hand them to the near spouse. A citation will be included with the original petition for divorce which tells your spouse about the nature of the lawsuit as well as the specifics of their rights to file an answer.
The citation will then be returned to the courthouse certifying to the court that service was completed. From there, your spouse has approximately 20 days to file an answer to your original petition for divorce or risk being held in default. A default decision means that a judge can issue orders against you are spouse without there being present or participating in the process. For that reason, the law pays close attention to your spouse and their ability 2 file an answer to your original petition.
If your spouse cannot be located then you will need to figure out a way to serve him or her with divorce papers. As it sometimes happens you and your spouse may have physically moved apart from one another long ago and you may not know where he or she is located. You must show a court that you have attempted your due diligence to look at him or her for personal service. Personal services the preferred method of service by all family court judges in Texas. However, if you are unsuccessful in personally serving your spouse or even in locating him or her then you can file a petition to seek an effective means for service.
Probably the most frequently handed down alternative medical service would be posting a notice on the courthouse steps or having notice posted in a newspaper or magazine. This is known as service by publication. This may seem like a no muss, no fuss method for service but there is a major catch. That major catch is that you will be susceptible to having your spouse file a motion for a new trial if he or she is provided notice via one of these alternative methods of service. All your work to get the case closed could be for naught if their motion for a new trial is granted. Having service perfected via an alternative method is typically grounds in and of itself to have emotion like this granted.
The other method for providing notice of your divorce lawsuit would be to simply speak to your spouse about your intention ahead of time and to consider whether or not he or she would be willing to sign a waiver of service. A waiver of service accomplishes exactly what you think it might. Namely, your spouse could waive their right to be formally served by you in your divorce. He or she would not be waiving any additional rights under the law regarding your divorce but the need to formally serve your spouse would be waived. This can save time and money.
Your original divorce petition must be on file at least one day before the signing of a waiver of service document. Additionally, there are requirements for a waiver of service you should ensure that you are following the rules in Texas divorces for these type of documents. Otherwise, a waiver of service may indicate a willingness on both sides for your spouse to be willing to work with you on a settlement rather than engaging in protracted negotiations or even litigation. If you are hesitating on filing a divorce due to concerns over how long the case will take this may be the route for you to choose to attempt to enter into amicable settlement terms sooner rather than later.
Do you need an attorney for your divorce?
This is a question that I am asked with some frequency. Determining whether or not you need to hire an attorney is an important question because it can decide your short term and long term future and the success of your case. Normally my quick and easy response to this question is if you have children or have a substantial amount of income or assets then you do need to hire an attorney. While an attorney may not change the course of your divorce by that much there certainly is risk involved if you do not hire one when the stakes are high.
However, you are reading this blog post because I imagine that you do not have children. That would remove one of the prerequisites for hiring a lawyer. The other factor that you should consider is whether or not yours would be considered a high asset or high net wealth divorce. You want to think seriously about this because while money is not as important as children that certainly is an important period even if you are not that concerned with the money or wealth you have the fact is you may have heirs, family members, or other causes that you might be interested in ensuring their financial success in the future. You are immediate consumption of the wealth bears little on this discussion.
On the other end of the spectrum are folks who simply want to get divorced and end their marriage. You may be in an abusive relationship or merely a relationship that isn’t going anywhere and has regressed in terms of its strength from the date of your marriage. You may just want to end the relationship amicably rather than proceed in a marriage that is not fulfilling. If you count yourself among this group then a quick and simple divorce may be in order.
It still does not hurt to meet with an experienced family law attorney before making a decision. Many family law attorneys, like those with the law office of Brian Fagan, offer free of charge consultations for people like you to meet with us to determine whether or not you may need a lawyer. These consultations can be very short but can also help you a great deal. there is no risk associated with just speaking to an attorney and the benefit to you could be significant. Before you decide to venture out on your own and represent yourself in a divorce I recommend you at least consult with an experienced family law attorney before making up your mind one way or the other.
Finishing up our discussion on divorce
if you and your spouse do not count yourself among a group of people who have a substantial amount of assets and if you have no minor children from the relationship you may be looking at a somewhat more streamlined divorce process than other people. For that reason, you should be thankful. If all your divorce will do is help you change your last name and update the title on your vehicle then you have less at stake than other people. As a result, you should consider whether or not you need to hire A divorce attorney to proceed with your case.
However, if you have a busy full-time job, health problems, have a child with health problems, or have any other commitment that may take up a great deal of your time you should consider whether or not you have the ability to proceed with the divorce on your own without an attorney. At a certain point, it all becomes a matter of risk tolerance. Are you willing to forego the protection of having an attorney to represent you in your divorce in favor of a less expensive and possibly less tedious divorce? After a full year of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and the trade-offs inherent in that setup, we should all be familiar with making this type of analysis.
Overall, it is my opinion that those of eeriness fall post who do not have children have less to worry about when it comes to hiring an attorney for your divorce. The rest of your decisions should depend upon what type of wealth you have, how complex your financial situation is, and whether or not you have a prenuptial or natural property agreement in place that could streamline negotiations regarding the division of your community estate. Although premarital and marital property agreements get somewhat of a bad rap in our culture the reality is but they can Be very effective at helping people likes new avoid troublesome in difficult negotiation during an already difficult process like a divorce.
If you are childless and facing divorce then you still have many considerations to ponder as you lead into your case. Not having children does not mean that you can go into your case without a plan or without consideration for the people that you have in their life. Most notably, you have to consider your long term success versus any short term benefits you may proceed from not hiring an attorney ultimately not hiring an attorney may be something that impacts your case very little but the long term effects of the divorce make it possible that you should still consider lawyering up before your case begins.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog posts please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as to learn about how your family may be impacted by a child custody or divorce case being filed.