Getting divorced means different things to different Texans. Some view it as an experience to get through as quickly as possible. Others rightfully see it as a step in the positive direction toward a healthier mental state and lifestyle.
What determines how your outlook on your new relationship status will shape up? As divorce professionals serving Fort Bend County, we’ve discovered firsthand how valuable it is to be informed. Your divorce experience depends on your ability to jump through the hoops and make educated decisions, so knowing your way around the paperwork is a must.
Which Forms Will You Need to File?
Every divorce case is different. Depending on your situation, parent status and the nature of your separation, you might be required to file different paperwork than someone else might. When reading through this list, click on any of the links to go to the relevant form directly.
Common Uncontested Divorce Forms
An uncontested divorce is for couples who agree about the terms of their divorces, such as property divisions and parenting responsibilities. It’s a no-fault type of divorce, so it doesn’t pertain to separations on specific grounds, such as infidelity or abuse. There are a few common forms you might encounter if you’re eligible to go this route:
- Completing an Original Petition for Divorce states the fundamentals of your case in clear terms and notifies the court of the relief sought.
- An Affidavit of Indigency lets qualified divorce petitioners request that their court fees and filing expenses be waived because they lack the financial means to pay. You’ll use this document to prove that you’re receiving government benefits or living in poverty.
- A Waiver of Service lets the court know that your spouse received the Original Petition for Divorce. If your spouse agrees to sign it in front of a notary at least one day after receiving the petition, then they don’t have to be formally served. If your spouse didn’t agree to have service waived, then they’d file an answer, which would transform the case into a contested divorce. There are multiple versions of this form — one for those without minor children and another for parents — so make sure you pick the right option!
- The Final Decree of Divorce confirms the court order. You’ll need this decree at your final hearing, and if your spouse signs it along with the Waiver of Service, you can get the divorce settled with minimal fuss. Once again, there are different decrees for opposite-sex parents and opposite-sex couples without kids. There are also specific forms for people with prior custody or support orders and same-sex couples without children.
- An Affidavit of Miltary Status informs the court that your spouse is a member of the military on active duty. You’d need it at the final hearing if served your spouse by a personal service and your spouse didn’t sign the Final Decree of Divorce, consent to the Waiver of Service or provide an answer.
- A Notice of Change of Address is mandatory in any situation where you or your spouse move to a new location. It’s critical for letting the court know where to send notices and other vital information.
- A Certificate of Last Known Address notifies the court of your spouse’s last verifiable place of residence. It’s mandatory if your spouse fails to sign the final decree or provide an answer after being served.
Common Contested Divorce Forms
Contested divorces occur between couples who can’t reach an agreement over the specifics. While some of the forms, such as the Original Petition for Divorce and Affidavit of Military Status, are the same as the uncontested versions, others are specific to this type of split.
- A Respondent’s Original Answer lets you indicate your disagreement with a divorce petition filed by your spouse by submitting what’s known as a general denial. For instance, it allows you to declare your ownership of separate property that shouldn’t be split. There are different versions for childless couples, parents and parents with existing court orders.
- A Respondent’s Original Counter-Petition for Divorce lets you move things forward while indicating that there are still unresolved issues. Unlike the general denial, it’s the Respondant’s separate claim for relief and it forces the court to consider other factors, such as pregnancies, infidelity, family violence, protective orders, name changes, property and debt.
Other Miscellaneous Forms
Not every divorce falls neatly into one category. These extras may prove essential in your quest for a clean break:
- A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO, is a court order that splits a retirement fund. Although you can obtain QDRO forms and fill them out yourself, it’s highly advisable to have an attorney’s help.
- Service by Publication forms let you push your divorce forward when you’re unable to locate your co-parent. They allow you to satisfy your legal obligation to attempt to notify your soon-to-be-ex that you are giving them for divorce.
Make the Most of Your Divorce
These are just some of the more common types of forms you might need to deal with during your divorce. Your requirements might differ if you seek alimony, own a business or other high-value assets, or wish to annul or void your marriage. In some cases, your spouse might not respond after you serve them with the initial divorce papers. While you can complete these separations on your own as “default” divorces, you still need to file the correct paperwork at every stage of the process.
Although getting the right paperwork together is a huge step in any successful divorce, finding representation is just as important. Working with an attorney is the best way to avoid missteps, such as mistakenly failing to file the parent-specific version of a particular form if you have kids.
Legal advice makes it easier to enjoy the future you deserve and survive your divorce with less stress and confusion. Learn more about planning for a brighter future by getting in touch with one of our lawyers today.