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How to File a Divorce in the Dallas County Courts

by Andrea Howland-Myers

While a divorce attorney can handle the paperwork and legalities of a divorce for you, in the state of Texas there's no reason you can't save money by filing for divorce yourself, acting as your own attorney. To file for divorce in Dallas County, you or your spouse must have been a resident of Texas for six months and of Dallas County for 90 days. There are separate processes for a divorce with children and a divorce with no children.

Fill out a Petition for Divorce. This is a form stating that you want a divorce and giving basic information about you, your spouse, your residence in Texas and your shared and separate property. The Petition for Divorce with Children form will also include information about your children and their paternity. The Petition for Divorce and other forms you may need to file are not available directly through the Dallas County District Clerk's office but are available for free download in English or Spanish at the website TexasLawHelp.org. (See Resources.)

Take your petition to the office of the Dallas County District Clerk. Go to the File Desk, ask to file your divorce petition and pay the filing fee. Fee information is available on the District Clerk's website (See Resources).

Assist the court in serving your spouse with legal notice of your divorce proceedings. If you and your spouse disagree on any aspect of the terms of the divorce, such as how you will divide your shared property or what your custody arrangements will be, he must be served with divorce papers so that he can file an Answer to Divorce form. Typically he will be served with these papers in person, but you can recommend that he be served by mail instead. Let the clerk know if this is your preference. If you and your spouse agree on the terms of the divorce, he does not need to be served with divorce papers. Instead, he must fill out a Waiver of Service, sign it in front of a notary, and file it with the court. This cannot happen until after you have filed the Petition for Divorce.

Attend the court hearing on your case. This will only be scheduled once your spouse has filed a Waiver of Service or returned a Certificate of Service and filed an Answer to Divorce.

Fill out a Final Decree of Divorce form with information about the proceedings and outcome of your divorce hearing. If your spouse was not present at the hearing and did not sign a Waiver of Service, giving the judge permission to finalize the divorce without notifying her, you will need her signature.

File your Decree of Divorce with the County District Clerk.

Items you will need
  • Petition for divorce
  • Divorce decree
  • Filing fee

Tip

  • If you do not know your spouse's whereabouts and the process server cannot find him when trying to serve him with divorce papers, there are alternate methods of service that can be used to move forward with the divorce.

Warning

  • Neither this article nor any of the listed references and resources constitute legal advice or are a substitute for legal advice. You should at least consult with an attorney before filing for divorce. To find a lawyer, consult the Dallas Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service or Texas Law Help's list of organizations offering low-cost and pro bono legal services (See Resources).

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