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What do I do if I receive a divorce petition?

Whether you were expecting it or not, if you've received a divorce petition you are likely to have questions, concerns and conflicting emotions regarding whether to tear it up and throw it in the trash or get on the phone and take immediate action. The latter, is, of course, the preferred response if you disagree with any of the terms and statements in the petition and want to simplify the process of contesting the divorce terms.

If you do not agree with the terms set out in the petition by your spouse, you would benefit from filing a response indicating which terms you contest. Otherwise, you could lose your chance to legally disagree with terms such as the division of your property and assets as well as custody arrangements. You are the respondent, and your spouse is the petitioner. By failing to respond in a timely fashion, you don't completely forfeit the chance to contest the allegations contained in the petition. However, if the allotted time has passed, the court assumes by default that you agree with all conditions of the petition and to contest you will then need to ask the court to take off the default and provide the court with legal reasoning for the request.

Your spouse filing a petition with the court is the first step in your divorce process. How you proceed from there will make a substantial difference in the direction the divorce will go. If you agree to the conditions of the petition, the divorce will likely be a fairly straightforward process. If there are factors you disagree with, you may be able to negotiate with your spouse through mediation. For non-negotiables that your spouse will not budge on, a court case may be the best option.

A Texas family law attorney may be the best resource for you as you set about answering the divorce petition and determining your best next steps.

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