After you have filed for divorce, you are legally recognized as the Petitioner of the lawsuit, and your spouse is the Respondent. In Texas, it is the Petitioner’s obligation to give a Legal Notice to the Respondent, a practice commonly known as “serving papers.” There are two ways to give legal notice:
- Ask your spouse to sign a Waiver of Service.
- Hire someone or request the local Sheriff’s office to serve your spouse.
Of course, we at Oxner Legha handle this part for our clients, and the information here is for educational purposes only. Schedule a consultation with our family law attorneys to get started.
If your divorce is amicable, the first method of serving your spouse – by Waiver of Service – can be used to initiate the process. But don’t do it in advance. Make sure your spouse signs the Waiver of Service at least one day after you filed the petition with the clerk. Arrange for a notary to be present when your spouse signs, as you must prove to the court that the signature on the waiver is indeed the signature of your spouse. Once the waiver is signed and notarized, you will file it with the same District Clerk’s office where you filed the original petition.
How Can I Initiate Divorce Without Seeing My Spouse?
When you are getting divorced, you may want to avoid your spouse for many reasons. Whatever they may be, the best way to avoid further conflict is by hiring someone else to deliver the divorce petition for you. This is known as the Service of Process. The Oxner Legha team can handle the entire process for you.
The server should take care of the next steps. The server will have your spouse sign for proof of the exchange, and they should file a Return of Service with the court. Occasionally, the Return of Service will be given to you directly, and if so, you will need to file that with the court yourself.
Again, at Oxner Legha we are happy to save you the headache and oversee the serving process for you.
What If I Am Afraid Of My Spouse?
Personal service, a.k.a. using a process server to deliver the divorce petition, is highly recommended if you fear your spouse.
Please note: if you are currently experiencing domestic abuse, please stop reading this page and immediately call the 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. [For the hearing impaired, please call 800-787-3224.] If there is domestic abuse in the marriage, you may qualify for exemptions and legal protections not covered in this article.
What If I Can’t Find My Spouse?
If you are getting divorced in Texas and you can’t find your spouse, the court may intervene through a process called Serving by Posting or Publication. This process is exactly what it sounds like: the judge may order legal notice to be posted in the court or published in a newspaper.
But it should be said that this process is rare, expensive, and not available to everyone. In the case that you do qualify, you must provide extensive proof that you cannot locate your spouse, and the court may even require you to pay for a lawyer to represent your missing spouse.