Understanding a Default Divorce in Texas
If you are considering or have already filed for divorce, you probably have a lot of questions. You may have heard about a default judgment divorce.
A default divorce in Texas is when your spouse does not respond after you have served them with divorce papers.
Here, we will talk in more detail about what it means to obtain a default divorce.
What Happens at the Beginning of a Default Divorce?
At the start of every divorce proceeding, one spouse becomes the filing or petitioning spouse by filing initial divorce papers.
Once the petitioner has filed these papers, the sheriff, constable or private process server will serve the respondent spouse with the divorce papers. Service provides notice of the divorce to the respondent spouse. Spouses approaching divorce do not always communicate regularly. The respondent spouse may not know that the petitioner has filed for divorce until they receive service.
Once the sheriff has served the respondent spouse with divorce papers, the respondent has until the next Monday at 10 a.m. following the expiration of twenty days to file an answer. If they do not file an answer in time, the filing spouse may be able to obtain a default divorce.
What Happens If My Spouse Does Not File an Answer?
If your spouse does not timely file an answer after receiving service, your divorce is not yet final.
Under Texas Law, you must wait sixty days from the date that you filed your original petition for divorce before you can finish your divorce. This sixty-day waiting period includes weekends and holidays. Even if your spouse fails to timely file an answer after service with divorce papers, they can still file at any time before you finish your divorce.
If sixty days pass and your spouse has not filed an answer, you can call the courthouse to find out when a judge next hears uncontested divorce cases or how to schedule a hearing on a default judgment. The clerk should be able to give you a date and time when the court can hear your uncontested case.
On that day, you will bring all your original divorce paperwork. The paperwork you need to bring will vary depending on several factors, including whether or not you have children and whether the court requires an inventory and appraisement.
A clerk will direct you to the courtroom where the judge is hearing uncontested cases. When your case is called, you may have to answer some questions or read simple testimony. The testimony states your name, your spouse’s name, your reason for filing for divorce, and any children of the marriage.
When Is My Default Divorce Final?
It is important to note that if your spouse files an answer at any point before the hearing begins, you cannot get a default divorce. If you arrive at the courthouse to finish your divorce and your spouse filed an answer the day before, you cannot get a default divorce even though the sixty-day waiting period has ended.
After calling your case and hearing your testimony, the judge will review your file. If all the paperwork is correct and accounted for, the judge will sign a final decree of divorce. At this point your divorce is finalized.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Default Divorce?
If you have filed a petition for divorce and it looks like your spouse is not going to respond, it is still a good idea to talk to a lawyer.
Even in a default judgment divorce, there is still a lot of paperwork involved. A judge may not approve your divorce if you do not have all the necessary paperwork or if some of it is incorrectly completed.
An attorney can make sure that you do not make any filing errors. Errors can delay the finalization of your divorce, giving your spouse more time to file an answer.
In addition, your spouse can file an answer at any time before the divorce is complete. It is a good idea to talk to a family law attorney so that you can be prepared in the event that your spouse contests the divorce. This can happen even if you and your spouse discussed the divorce and they agreed that they would not contest anything. It never hurts to cover all your bases.
Call Our Office
The divorce attorneys at The Larson Law Office can guide you through the divorce process. We devote our full attention to each client, so you can rest assured that your case will go smoothly, regardless of whether you can get a default judgment.
Call us today to get answers to your default divorce questions.