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How Do I File For Divorce In Harris County?

Filing for divorce is often an incredibly difficult time for those involved. It can produce emotional and financial hardships for people and can be very time-consuming and complicated. Because of this, if you’re seeking a divorce, it’s important that you have a team of experienced and skilled attorneys on your side.

If you’re filing for divorce in Harris County or considering doing so, you should get in touch with Skillern Firm. Whether your divorce involves significant assets, a family business, or other complicating matters, our lawyers are here to help.

The team at our law firm knows what’s at stake, and we have the skill and resources necessary to ensure that you receive the resolution that you deserve. We can help you through this difficult transition in your life and advise you throughout the entire process. These issues are often emotional and stressful, and we can help you at every step.

To get in touch with our law firm, call us today at 936-213-8479

Where Do You File Divorce Papers in Harris County?

If you are a resident of Houston or Harris County, then you will need to file your divorce with the office of the Harris County District Clerk. You can file online, or you may be able to file in person. If you live in a suburb of Houston, such as Waller or Montgomery, you will need to file with the local county clerk’s office there.

Residency Requirements

When you’re filing for a divorce in Harris County or Houston, you’ll need to have been a resident of Texas for at least six months before and a resident of Harris County at least 90 days before filing. However, both spouses do not have to be residents of Harris County, or even the state of Texas.

How Do I File For Divorce In Harris County? – The Process

When filing for divorce, you must take care, and ensure that all your divorce papers are filled out correctly and completely. If you don’t, this may affect your divorce proceedings.

The steps to file for divorce are as follows:

  1. Harris County divorce proceedings begin when an original petition for divorce is filed online with a case information sheet.
  2. The local county clerk also receives a copy of the petition, and the filing spouse has to pay the filing fees.
  3. Either a process server or a constable will serve your spouse with the divorce petition. If you don’t know where your spouse lives, you have to make a reasonable effort to locate them, but if after this you still can’t, you would have them served by posting as long as there are no children involved.
  4. After this, your spouse needs to respond to the petition, either with an original answer or a counter-petition for divorce.
  5. The Harris County Court Coordinator will be able to prove you with information regarding when the judge schedules hearings. You and your attorney are expected to make a reasonable effort to reach out to your spouse to agree on hearing dates. If you are unable to agree on a date with your spouse, then they must get at least 45-days notice.
  6. Your spouse will then be served with a copy of the hearing notice.
  7. There will be a mandatory 60-day waiting period between the time you file the petition and your hearing. However, most divorces don’t happen that quickly. The Texas court may make exceptions for annulments or for divorce cases that involve domestic violence.
  8. During the hearing, the judge will review both your and your spouse’s requests, and you’ll be able to present your testimony or other relevant information and evidence. The judge will then make their findings and sign the final divorce decree.

In the state of Texas, you do not need an attorney when filing for divorce, however, it’s not advisable to proceed without legal help. The process can be complex and confusing, and if your spouse has an attorney whilst you don’t, the final divorce terms will most likely be in their favor.

What Are The Required Harris County Divorce Forms?

The documents that you’ll need to fill out depend on whether you have children under 18 with your spouse and whether your spouse contests that case.

You will always need to file an Original Petition for Divorce, but listed below are some of the other Harris County divorce papers you may need to file:

  • Answer or Waiver of Service.
  • Information on Suit Affecting Family Relationship.
  • Standard or Modified Possession Order if you have children.
  • Divorce Decree for Harris County.

The forms you need to fill in depend on your individual case, as does what you need to include in these forms.

If you want to ensure that you file the correct divorce forms, and fill them in correctly, it’s worth getting in touch with a reputable law firm, such as Skillern Firm, so they can advise you throughout the complicated process.

How Much Are Harris County Divorce Filing Fees?

The Harris County clerk’s filing fees are usually around $300, however, there may be other court fees that you’ll need to pay if you require any extra services, such as serving your spouse on your behalf.

The rates change across the state, and so it might be worth knowing the exact sum you’ll be expected to pay before bringing your case to court.

To inquire about fees, you can contact the clerk of the district court where you will file for divorce. If you can’t afford to pay the fees, you could request relief from the court by filing a statement form, which the judge will review and determine whether you are eligible for relief.

How Long Will Divorce Proceedings Last in Harris County or Houston?

Texas has a 60-day waiting period before any order of divorce can be finalized. This waiting period begins on the day that the original petition for divorce is filed with the court. This waiting period is known as a cooling-off period provided by the Texas legal system. This means that the shortest possible time that a divorce can be finalized is 61 days. However, this is very unlikely.

In order to finalize the terms of divorce within 61 days is going to require a complete agreement on liabilities, the division of property, child custody, and child support issues, if you share children with your spouse within those 60 days of filing. After this, a fully signed and final decree can be entered with the court after the waiting period ends.

Very few divorces conclude like this. If you and your spouse don’t come to an agreement on all of these issues, then it’ll be near impossible to finalize your divorce within 60 days. If this is the case for you, you should expect to either go to mediation for assistance in reaching an agreement, or go to court so that a judge can determine the resolution on your behalf.

With any type of divorce, you will need the help of an attorney. Without their knowledge, you risk losing out during the divorce proceedings.

What Happens If Your Spouse Doesn’t Want to Divorce?

A contested divorce is where your spouse doesn’t want a divorce, or there are issues that you cannot easily resolve together. You will need to have your divorce forms served to your spouse, as they would unlikely be amenable to waiving process.

The divorce court may appoint an amicus attorney or guardian ad litem, who will act in the best interests of any children you share with your spouse. The court might also order you and your spouse to meet with a mediator in order to attempt to resolve any lingering issues regarding property division, child support, and custody.

What Are the Advantages of Filing First for Divorce in Harris County and Houston?

If you file the necessary divorce papers before your spouse, you will gain some advantages. Most of the advantages will provide benefits at the beginning of your divorce case, but these benefits can have a lasting effect and impact the final outcome of the case.

There are a few ways that you’ll be benefited if you file your divorce case first. There is a time advantage and a psychological advantage that can be gained, and these are explained below.

Timing Advantage

If you file first, and your spouse is unaware of your intentions to file for divorce, then you’ll have the element of surprise, which will give you an advantage over your spouse.

By taking your spouse by surprise, you’ll give them limited time to prepare for the temporary orders hearing, while you’ll have had time to select the right divorce attorney and provide your attorney plenty of time to prepare.

Psychological Advantage

When you’re the prepared, organized, and aggressive one, you’ll have a psychological advantage when negotiating a settlement and getting ready for litigation.

What Are the Advantages of Working with a Divorce Lawyer?

Divorce can be an exhausting, complicated, and lengthy process. An experienced divorce attorney who is familiar with the process and laws will be able to take on a lot of the work, which will ease your stress and allow you to focus on your daily life.

Divorce involves family relationships, personal finances, and property rights. This can have a lasting effect on your life, so it’s important to have a skilled attorney on your side fighting for your rights and interests.

Contact Skillern Firm

Divorce is a transition into a new life. The settlement you manage to secure during this time is significant and can have a lasting impact. This is why you need reputable legal representation.

The lawyers at Skillern Firm have decades of combined experience in dealing with Texas divorce law. We will work closely with you and build a strong attorney-client relationship so we can support you through this difficult process. We’ll fight tirelessly on your behalf, whether it’s via negotiation or litigation, to ensure that you receive the resolution that you deserve.

To ensure your rights and interest are protected, call us today at 936-213-8479.