Americans regularly report that divorce is one of the most stressful life events they’ve ever been through. Not only is it emotionally taxing and expensive, but the process of navigating the legal system can be downright overwhelming. Understanding the Texas divorce forms you will be required to file can help you get a sense of what will be involved in the process and whether or not you should seek the help of a lawyer.
While filing for an uncontested, no-fault divorce is by far the simplest route to take, that obviously isn’t always possible. In these instances, you might be able to file for a DIY divorce and avoid the costs of hiring a lawyer.
Either way, though, getting a sense of the legal forms you’ll need to file for divorce can take away some of the mystery from the process. It can also help you grasp exactly what will be required of you whether you are the Petitioner or the Respondent.
Let’s take a look at the legal forms you’ll need to fill out and file in order to obtain a divorce in Texas.
The forms that you need in order to get divorced in Texas will depend on a number of factors. If you hire a lawyer to represent you in your divorce, they will be able to inform you of the specific forms that will be required in order for you to dissolve your marriage legally.
However, if you are getting divorced without a lawyer, you will need to determine which divorce forms you’ll need in order to end the marriage. Of course, even if you are working with an attorney, it’s not a bad idea to understand the different legal documents that are involved in the Texas divorce process.
Some of the factors that will determine which forms you will need include whether the divorce is contested or uncontested and whether or not there are children involved in the marriage. It is generally advised that you seek the help of a lawyer when getting divorced unless you are getting an uncontested divorce and there are no children involved in the marriage. If either you or your spouse have significant assets or debts, it’s also typically a good idea to work with an attorney.
The Original Petition for Divorce is the form that initiates the divorce process. The spouse that fills out the form is known as the Petitioner, while the spouse that is served with divorce papers is known as the Respondent. Which form of this document you need to fill out will depend on whether or not you and your spouse have minor children.
This is a document that gives basic information about your case to the court clerk. It is used for the purposes of statistical reporting.
It is required under Texas law that the Respondent receives a copy of the Original Petition for Divorce. However, the Respondent can also choose to waive their right to being officially served by signing a Waiver of Citation.
The Final Decree of Divorce is the court’s final order in the case of your divorce. The judge will sign this document and grant your divorce. It will also state any court orders regarding alimony, property and debt division, child support, and child custody and visitation.
If you are getting an uncontested divorce, your Settlement Agreement will also be approved by this document. It’s worth noting that the terms used in the Final Divorce Decree for child custody is referred to as “conservatorship” while visitation is described as “possession and access.”
If your mailing address or your spouse’s mailing address changes, you can fill out this form.
If the Respondent’s location is unknown, you can fill out this form to let the court know the last known address of your spouse.
Low-income parties can choose to fill out this form in order to request that their divorce filing fees are waived. Whether or not you qualify for a waiver of fees is up to the court.
This is a form that answers whether or not the Respondent is a member of the military.
The Respondent’s Original Answer is filled out and filed by the Respondent in order to reply to the Original Petition for Divorce. They can choose to agree with the requests in the Petition, add an additional request, or disagree with one or more requests in the Original Petition for Divorce.
The other option is filing the Waiver of Service form. However, if the Respondent doesn’t file either of these forms, the case can continue to move forward as a default divorce.
Are you wondering what tactics some people use to sabotage their partner during a divorce? Check out these sneaky tricks to watch out for.
If you and your spouse don’t have minor children together (meaning under the age of 18,) you will have a specific set of forms to fill out. It is generally less complicated to get divorced when you don’t have children.
There is also a distinction between which forms you use depending on whether the divorce is agreed or default.
If you and your spouse agree on all of the divorce terms and are willing to sign the necessary court forms, in addition to not having children together, the starting forms you might need to fill out are:
You will want to make two copies of the Original Petition for Divorce. If you are asking the court to waive the court fees, you will also want to make a copy of the Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs.
Other forms you will need as a part of this process are:
If you and your spouse don’t have minor children but it’s a default divorce (meaning you don’t believe your spouse will participate in the divorce process) then you’ll need to follow a similar process as listed above. However, there will be several additional steps to take if you can finish your divorce by default. These might include the Certificate of Last Known Mailing Address and Military Status Declaration.
If you are getting an uncontested divorce with minor children, you will need to fill out the Original Petition for Divorce (Set B) as well as additional forms if they are required for your case. These might include:
If your child has ever received Medicaid or TANF, you will need to send a file-stamped copy of your Original Petition for Divorce to the Attorney General’s Office Child Support Division.
You will also need either a Waiver of Service Only (Set B) or a Respondent’s Original Answer (Set B) for your spouse to fill out.
As of January 1, 2021, you will both also be required to complete the Required Initial Disclosures in Divorces, Annulments, and Suits to Declare Marriage Void form.
Finally, you will also need to fill out the Final Decree of Divorce (Set B). There are some other forms that might be required depending on your circumstances, such as the Income Withholding Order for Support form. You will also need to file the completed Information on Suit Affecting the Family Relationship (often referred to as the “Austin” form) as well as the Record of Support Order after you file your Final Decree of Divorce. Your divorce is not finalized when the judge signs your Final Decree of Divorce, but rather when you turn the document (and any other orders signed by the judge) to the court.
What forms do you need to fill out if you’ve been served with divorce papers?
If you have been officially served with both an Original Petition for Divorce and a Citation, you will need to file your answer within a certain time frame. In order to figure out the deadline, you’ll need to look at a calendar and start counting out twenty days from the day you were served. In this calculation, you will want to include both weekends and holidays.
Once you have counted out 20 days, identify the next Monday on the calendar and that will be your deadline. You are required to file your answer on or before this date at 10 am with the court. If twenty days after the day you were served is a Monday, your deadline will be the following Monday.
What if the court is closed when your response is due? Then your due date will be the next day that the courts are open.
If you choose to not respond to having been served with divorce documents, your spouse has the ability to complete the divorce without you being sent any more notice. This is known as a default divorce.
However, if your spouse has not yet finished the divorce but you didn’t make the deadline, you might be able to file your answer late. If they have finished the divorce, however, you will no longer be able to file your answer.
In order to file an answer, you will need to fill out the Respondent’s Original Answer. You will need Set A or Set D if you do not have minor children, Set B if you do have minor children, and Set C if you do have minor children but there is already a custody and support final court order in place. You can file this document in person at the district clerk’s office or file it online with E-File Texas.
As of January 1, 2021, parties in a family law case are also required to exchange certain information and documents within 30 days after the answer has been filed. This is known as the Required Initial Disclosures in Dissolution of Marriage.
You are not required to have a lawyer when you get a divorce in Texas. However, as you’ve likely gleaned from the many forms and scenarios listed above, divorce can get pretty complicated. It can be tempting to save money by avoiding the costs of legal help, but you want to make sure you don’t do so at the expense of your rights and interests.
In general, it is typically only advised to file as a Pro Se litigant in the state of Texas if you are filing an uncontested, no-fault divorce. If you’re interested in pursuing a divorce without a lawyer, check out this article to learn more.
If you are married by common law in Texas, the process of ending the marriage will be basically the same as if you were formally married. In the eyes of Texas State law, common law marriage and formal marriage are equally valid forms of marriage.
Getting a divorce when you are common law married, however, requires that you prove that a common law marriage legitimately existed. If you have filled out a Declaration of Informal Marriage, this will serve as valid proof of marriage. If you haven’t, however, you will need to prove to the court that a marriage existed in order to obtain a divorce.
To learn more about the ins and outs of common law marriage in Texas, take a look at this guide.
When you get a divorce in Texas, you are dissolving a marriage that the state considers valid. An annulment, on the other hand, is when you end a marriage that never actually should have been valid in the first place. You might be able to get an annulment in Texas if your marriage was invalid from the start.
There are a handful of legal grounds that will grant you the right to an annulment in Texas. You will need to be able to show one of the following in order to prove that your marriage was never valid:
There are also some other requirements for a number of these grounds for annulment.
For example, if one spouse is actually married to another person when a couple gets married, the initial marriage can be dissolved and the new spouses can continue to live together in order to allow them to have a valid marriage. However, once this occurs, you are no longer legally allowed to annul the marriage and will instead have to file for divorce if you want to dissolve the relationship legally.
Additionally, one of the spouses must be the one to file for the annulment unless one of the spouses is under the legal age to marry. In these instances, a parent or a guardian can file for the annulment on behalf of the underage spouse. In the state of Texas, the legal age to get married is 18. With a parent’s consent or a court order, individuals can be married at the age of 16.
If you are interested in requesting an annulment in Texas, you will need to file a form known as “A Suit to Declare Void the Marriage of [Petitioner] and [Respondent].” When you are the one that is asking for an annulment, you will put your name as the “petitioner” and the name of your spouse as the “respondent.”
This document will need to be filed in the district court in the county that you live in or that your spouse lives in. In order to file for an annulment in the Lone Star State, either you or your spouse will need to have lived in the county where you filed for at least ninety days and that state of Texas for at least six months.
On the forms, you are going to need to list both you and your spouse's full names as well as which of you has been a resident of the state and county for the required amount of time. You will also need to record the date that you and your spouse stopped cohabiting the same space as well as the day you got married. If there are any children as a part of the marriage and the court will be deciding the terms of child support, visitation, and custody, this will also need to be stated.
Once you have filled out this paperwork, you will need to get an extra copy so that you can serve your spouse. Talk to your district court clerk about the ways you can serve your spouse the paperwork.
The state of Texas is a bit unique because it allows you to insist on a jury trial if you want your marriage to be voided. Whether you are in front of a judge or a jury, you’ll need to prove that your annulment is based on legal grounds. If your marriage is found to have never been valid, it will be annulled.
Legally dissolving a marriage can feel completely overwhelming. When you understand what forms you will need to file in order to obtain a divorce, though, it can take away some of the stress of the unknown. It can also help you make an informed decision about whether or not you will want to hire a lawyer to help you navigate the process.
In many instances, the things we worry the most about are those we don’t know anything about. When it comes to divorce, this is also the case. Learning as much as you can about divorce in Texas can empower you to make decisions that support your best interests.
That being said, it’s worth noting that the information here simply can’t substitute for a consultation with an experienced lawyer. They will be able to take into account the specifics of your circumstance and give you advice about the different possible courses of action you could take.
For more resources about Texas laws regarding divorce, marriage, annulment, and more in Texas, be sure to check out our ever-growing library at TexasDivorceLaws.org.