Thursday, June 07, 2007

do it yourself divorce in Texas Part 2

Many months ago we discussed where to file your divorce and how to contact the clerks for help with your “pro se” divorce. In this episode we will discuss the starting paperwork.

If you are still unclear where to file, please review my earlier posts or log onto my website, go to the “Resource Links” page and click on the Texas Family Code link at the bottom of “Organizations”. From there you want to go to Title 1, Chapter 6 - Suit for Dissolution of Marriage. The specific code sections are Sections 6.301 through 6.308. These should help.

Again, I am not your lawyer. I don't represent you unless you retain me and sign an attorney employment contract. The forms below are just for purposes of illustration and are not intended to apply in every case, or your case for that matter. If you use these, and they are wrong for your jurisdiction, or incomplete, do not blame me...I have warned you not to use them. To get up to date forms, go to your local law library or hire an attorney!

To begin a divorce you will need an Original Petition for Divorce. This document “petitions” the court for the relief you are seeking, or in English, tells the court what you want them to do.

The requirements for what is to be included in the petition are found following the instructions above for my website Sections 6.401 and 6.402.

Section 6.401 discusses the “Caption” for your pleading. The caption is the top part of the document as seen on the left.

Section 6.402 discusses the requirements for the language in the “pleadings” or in English, the “paperwork”. The statute is telling you that you need to list the grounds for divorce, which has been discussed earlier in my blog. Typically that will be “insupportability” which is the no fault divorce in Texas. The statue also tells you to not put factual allegations in your document, just the general requests for the court. To the left is a sample petition for divorce. Notice that there are no facts in there like "my wife beat me on the head with a frying pan", or "I want the

toaster oven from our wedding, and the lifetime supply of funnel cakes we won at the fair". No facts, just simple requests.

Remember, this is a simple divorce scenario with no property or children. Part 1 is the discovery level. It has to be included, but what it is is not really important at this point. If discovery is involved in your case, you need an attorney. Typically if your estate is less than $50,000 and there are no children, then it is Level 1. If there are children or the estate is worth more than $50,000 it is Level 2.

Part 2 is self explanatory. Part 3 is where you tell the court that you are in the right court because you met the residency requirement discussed above and in my prior post. Part 4 regards service. Any person sued for divorce in Texas is entitled to know that they are being sued for divorce. You can show the court that your soon to be ex knows about the divorce either by 1. having the constable serve them with papers or 2. having them sign a Waiver of Service. We will discuss this issue in later posts. Part 5 should be self explanatory and simply tells the court there has been no protective order filed. If one has, you need to make the court aware of it, and you made need a lawyer.

Part 6 is easy, date of your demise (i mean divorce) and the greatest day of your life (separation). Kidding. Not always fun and games...but sometimes it is! Part 7 is the grounds for divorce which has been discussed in earlier posts. Insupportability is the no fault divorce. You can list other grounds if you like, but you probably need an attorney if you are concerned about grounds for divorce. Part 8, children, none according to our scenario. If you have em, your form will look different as they will be listed in the "caption" and there are other sections to include regarding conservatorship, visitation and child support. If you have child related issues, you may need a lawyer.

Part 9 deals with property. This example says that there is property, but the parties are trying to reach agreements as to its division. Another example of language here would be "no community property was accumulated by the parties" or something to that effect. Part 10 is where you pray (and beg) for the court to give you a divorce. Just legal mumbo jumbo.

At the bottom you would sign it in the appropriate place and you are ready to file your documents. In my next post we will discuss how to file your petition for divorce.

These documents can be found at any law library in "form" books. Track down a legal library in your area and ask them for a form book for divorces. These are NOT the ones that you find at Borders, etc..., these are forms approved by the State of Texas and should provide you with the most reliable forms.

UPDATE: I now offer online forms that are created and reviewed by an attorney (me). Once created, the documents are forwarded to you with instructions on how to proceed in representing yourself in your own divorce. Visit my website at for further information.

The information contained in this blog is provided for informational (and sometimes entertainment) purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. I can guarantee you that I am not covering every facet of the family code, and there may be hidden gems in the Family Code that could make or break your case based upon your specific fact situation. No recipients of content from this blog, retained client or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice. ALL CASES ARE DIFFERENT BECAUSE OF THE FACTS PARTICULAR TO YOUR CASE; THEREFORE YOU NEED A LAWYER TO DISCUSS THOSE SPECIFIC FACTS. I expressly disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the content of this blog. Talk to a lawyer first, preferably me, it is that simple!