How to File an Original Petition for Divorce in Texas

By Lisa Magloff

Women reading document

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The filing of an Original Petition for Divorce is one of the first steps in the Texas legal divorce process. The petition is your request for a hearing to allow a judge to grant you a divorce. Before filing the petition, you may want to discuss the divorce with your spouse and find out if you both agree on all of the issues involved. If so, you can request an uncontested divorce. If you do not agree, you will need to have a contested divorce, in which a judge will decide the issues. Both types of divorce can be assisted by an experience attorney.

Make sure you meet the residency requirements for filing the petition. One spouse must have lived in Texas for at least six months immediately prior to filing the petition. In addition, one spouse must have lived in the county where you are filing the petition for at least three months immediately prior to filing the petition.

Obtain a divorce packet from the District Clerk’s Office in the county courthouse in your county. It will include the Original Petition for Divorce. There are two forms – one for couples with children or where the wife is pregnant, and one for couples without children. Make sure that you use the correct petition.

Fill out the petition with all the information requested, according to the instructions that come with it.

Make two copies of the completed petition. If your divorce is uncontested, you can fill out a waiver for your spouse to sign. The waiver form is included in the divorce packet. Your spouse will need to sign the waiver. You will need two copies of the signed waiver.

Take all of the copies of the completed petition and waiver to the District Clerk of the county courthouse. Tell the clerk that you want to file an Original Petition for Divorce. The clerk will stamp your papers with the date and case number and enter your petition into the court's computer system. In some counties, you will also need to submit a copy of the Standing Order Regarding Children, Property and Conduct of Parities with your Petition. This order is found in the divorce packet. It applies to both you and your spouse and sets out the rules you must both abide by during the divorce process.

Pay the filing fee. This varies from county to county. You may want to call beforehand to find out the amount and what forms of payment are accepted. When you have paid your fee, the clerk will keep the original petition and return the two, stamped copies to you.

Keep one copy of the petition for your records and make sure your spouse receives the other copy.