The first step in filing your own divorce is preparing the proper paperwork. You can go to a local law library and find the correct forms to type to file your divorce; you can get documents from a form service that generates boilerplate forms; or you can get an attorney to prepare the documents for you and represent yourself.
The last alternative is the most cost effective when considering the hassles of the other two.
File with the appropriate court
You must file in the appropriate Court. You or your spouse must have been a resident of the State of Texas for 6 months and the county in which you file for 90 days. If your spouse meets the requirements but you do not, you can file under your spouse's residency.
Contact the court in which you will file to determine the appropriate fees and where to file.
Provide notice to your spouse
Once you have filed, you can provide your spouse with a copy of the Original Petition for Divorce and a Waiver of Service. Again, it is best to have an attorney draw up these papers to make sure they are correct. You can still represent yourself, but it is very important that the documents are correct.
The waiver is a document that your spouse signs in front of a notary and is used to let the court know that your spouse is aware of the lawsuit.
Once your spouse signs the waiver, they return it to you for filing with the court. The waiver must be on file for 10 days prior to finalizing your divorce.
If your spouse will not sign the waiver you must either serve them or they must file an "answer" with the court. Bottom line, there has to be some "official" proof that your spouse knows of the lawsuit.
Finalize the paperwork
Once the divorce is filed and your spouse has signed the waiver, which you have filed, you must complete and agree on a Final Decree of Divorce.
This document resolves all issues of the divorce and is filed with the Court at the final hearing.
Each spouse must agree to this document and sign it for it to be an agreed or uncontested divorce in most cases.
Again, there are different ways to get this document, but it is best to have an attorney draw up this document and/or review it.
Finalize the case
Once sixty days have elapsed from THE DATE YOU FILED THE DIVORCE you can finalize your case. You must have filed the petition for divorce; filed the signed and notarized Waiver of Service at least 10 days prior to the date of finalization of the case; and have a signed and agreed Final Decree of Divorce.
Contact the court to schedule the hearing date and tell them you are handling the case "pro se" (representing yourself). Many counties such as Dallas have set procedures you must follow so it is important to contact the court in advance of the sixty days elapsing so that you are ready to proceed on day sixty.
Appear on the date set for the hearing with multiple copies of the decree and present to the court for signature.
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