The Divorce Petition: The First Step in the Divorce Process

Coming to the decision that it’s time to end your marriage is never easy, and if you’ve recently come to this conclusion, you may be at a loss regarding how to move forward. The very first step after making the momentous divorce decision is to file a divorce petition. Better understanding this important first step can help make getting your divorce started more manageable. If you are divorcing, consult with an experienced Houston divorce attorney today.

The Divorce Petition

The very first step in every Texas divorce is electronically filing your divorce petition, which is a legal document, at the courthouse in the county in which you are filing for divorce, which is usually the county you live in. The petition informs the family law court that you are officially moving forward with legally ending your marriage. Once you’ve filed in the court, it’s time to serve your spouse with a copy of the petition. Having your spouse officially served demonstrates your intent and starts the clock on your divorce proceedings.

Included in Your Petition

Your divorce petition will address a variety of administrative issues as well as touching on the major components of your impending divorce. One important consideration is that at least one of you must have lived in the State of Texas for at least 6 months before you can file. There are also several types of information related to your marriage that must be included in your divorce petition:

  • You and your spouse’s full names
  • Your home address
  • When and where you were married
  • The names and ages of the children you share
  • Your reason for seeking a divorce

That final one obviously deserves a bit more attention. Your reason for seeking a divorce is likely to be complicated, but it could be an important factor in how your divorce proceeds.

The Grounds for Your Divorce

The fact is that the vast majority of Texas divorces are no-fault divorces that are based on insupportability, which is another way of saying the more familiar term – irreconcilable differences. Nearly any reason for divorce can easily fit the categorization of insupportability.

In extreme situations, however, fault can play an important role in how your divorce proceeds. Such fault can be based on adultery, on cruelty, on a felonious conviction, on a separation that extends for at least three years, on abandonment, or on your spouse’s confinement in a mental health facility. If you believe that fault is a significant factor in your divorce, consult with an experienced Houston divorce lawyer. The fact is that the court can factor a spouse’s bad faith actions against him or her in determining the division of marital property in your divorce.

Asking for Temporary Court Orders

The act of filing for a divorce can cause significant changes in your life, and you may find that you need to ask the court to issue temporary orders. These temporary orders can address any number of circumstances that are specific to your situation:

  • Issues related to money, including spousal maintenance and child support
  • A temporary child visitation schedule as you move through the divorce process and the determination of who will remain in the house with the children in the interim (if you and your spouse will be separating)
  • Who will be financially responsible for ongoing bills and for generally handling your joint financial responsibilities

You can include any on-topic requests you may have for temporary orders in your divorce petition, and any that are approved by the court will remain in effect until your divorce is finalized and your divorce decree spells out how the specific issues will be addressed moving forward.

Your Divorce

Every divorce is as unique as the two people involved, but there are certain basics that are true for most divorcing couples. These include that your child custody arrangements are naturally your primary concern and that the division of marital property is your second most pressing concern. Both of these are important components; the results of which can affect you and your children’s well-being for many years to come. Work closely with your dedicated Houston divorce attorney to help ensure that you obtain favorable terms.

Negotiating with Your Soon-to-be Ex

Wherever you and your ex can find common ground is one less thing that will be left to the court’s discretion. It is safe to say that, while the court always puts the children’s best interests first in questions of child custody arrangements, the court does not and cannot know your children the way you know them, so its determination regarding their best interests may not correlate with your own thoughts on the matter. Adopting a more compromising stance could help you and your ex find some common ground regarding child custody arrangements that might help keep the court out of making these important decisions for you, which can obviously be nerve-wracking.

The Court and the Division of Marital Property

When it comes to the division of marital property, if you and your divorcing spouse aren’t able to come to a consensus, allowing the court to determine how your assets and debts will be divided is probably less anxiety provoking than it would be for issues related to your children. While the court has considerable discretion when it comes to this division, its aim isn’t necessarily to divide things equally but in a way that is “just and right” given your circumstances. Further, if your spouse engaged in behaviors that qualify as fault in your divorce, the judge has considerable leeway to take this into account and divide your marital property accordingly.

If You’re Ready to Begin Your Divorce Proceedings, Consult with an Experienced Houston Divorce Lawyer Today

If you’re facing a divorce, the dedicated legal team at Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston is here for you. Our compassionate divorce attorneys have the experience, skill, and commitment to help guide your case toward its best possible resolution. For more information, please contact or call us at 713-781-7775 today.