My court hearing is set for the end of this month. It is very important that the divorce gets finalized that day and that there will be no complications. I also wanted to know if there is a way that the divorce can be finalized before the court date. My spouse is not willing to sign the waiver of service or the final degree of divorce. My founds are limited so I was wondering how much I should expect to pay.
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
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The only way at this point that I think you're going to be able to get your divorce finalized at a hearing set later this month is if he ends up agreeing both to accept service and will also sign whatever agreed order the two of you can come up with that's acceptable to the judge. If he won't sign a waiver of service, you'll have to get formal service of process, which takes a while to accomplish, and he's entitled to 3-4 weeks time after that to file an answer and perhaps a counter-petition. Even if you managed to get him served the week before the trial or something, I really don't see the judge forcing the case to trial unless he were to agree to that--there would at the very least be some procedural issues with doing that. And it's simply not his responsibility to sign a waiver of service, so that argument will not get you anywhere. The judge will tell you that you've had six months to request that he be served if he won't sign the waiver, and that taking care of that in a timely manner was your responsibility.
So I think realistically, a trial is just not going to happen this month, let alone prior to the scheduled court date, unless you manage to get him to sign the waiver and agree to everything. Also, if you did all this yourself, there could very well be problems with your proposed order that would prevent the judge from signing it even if it were agreed. Finally, I'm not clear at all as to what you mean by, "My founds are limited so I was wondering how much I should expect to pay." What you should expect to pay for what? I really think that you need to get an attorney who can try to help you straighten all this out. Good luck.
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From $500 and up.
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Divorce / Separation Lawyer
My main concern with the information you have provided is that it appears that your husband has not been served with process. I'm assuming, then, that he also does not have formal notice of the trial setting at the end of the month. Unless you can show that he has been served and that he received notice of the trial setting at least 45 days before the trial, the court will not grant you a divorce that day.
Hopefully this is your first trial setting. If so, you should ask for a continuance. Then you need to talk to the district clerk's office and request service of process on your husband. Bring a copy of your petition with you to the clerk's office. There will be a charge for service of process ($75 through a Harris County Constable, I believe) and they will charge you an additional $8 for issuance of citation. If your husband is served and he does not file a written answer by 10:00 a.m. on the Monday following the expiration of 20 days from the service of process, you can submit a default decree of divorce to the court during their uncontested docket (for most Harris County courts, this is from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. - get there early!).
Frankly, you could really use the assistance of an attorney to ensure your paperwork is drafted correctly and that you are following all procedures correctly to obtain a default decree. For the paperwork alone, I generally charge a flat rate of $750, although I would need to discuss the case with you in more detail to ensure I have a full understanding of your case before settling on a fee.