Do I Have to Sign the Divorce Papers in Texas?
A common question we receive from individuals served with a divorce petition is whether they have to sign the papers presented to them. While you are not legally required to sign these papers, it is vital to understand what your refusal to sign them does and does not do in terms of the divorce process. An experienced Texas divorce lawyer can explain what happens if you do not sign the divorce papers and the significant impact it can have on your legal rights.
What Topics Must Be Addressed in Every Texas Divorce?
A divorce legally ends your marriage and allows you to remarry in the future, but other issues are also covered by your divorce agreement, including:
- The division of assets and debts accrued during the marriage, including real estate, retirement accounts, investments, businesses, vehicles, intellectual property, and more.
- Custody, visitation schedules, and child support agreements if you have minor children.
- Spousal support payments, also known as alimony.
- Name changes if a spouse wishes to return to her maiden name.
- Other orders and agreements that may apply to your situation.
What Will Occur if I Refuse to Sign the Divorce Papers?
Because Texas is a “no-fault” divorce state, your refusal to sign divorce papers does not prevent your spouse from getting a divorce. The court will grant a divorce as long as one individual in the marriage files the proper paperwork and cites an inability to fix the relationship. However, refusing to sign the papers can strip you of your ability to play a role in the divorce proceedings.
If you do not sign the papers or file a counter-petition by the deadline, the court will make a default judgment in your case as long as your spouse can prove that they provided you with the proper opportunity to respond to the divorce petition. In a default judgment, the court grants the requests contained within your ex’s petition, and you will have no say in the outcome. The court views your refusal to respond to the divorce as an implicit agreement to the outlined terms.
What Are the Advantages of Participating in the Divorce Process?
While some couples split on reasonably good terms, the end of a marriage can be painful and bitter for others. Some people find it difficult to involve themselves in the legal aspects of their divorce, but this can cost them dearly. Even if you are unhappy with the divorce or disagree with your ex’s terms, it is always best to participate in the process because it protects your legal rights.
Many options exist for working through your divorce, including mediation, negotiation, counter-petitions, and trial.
Navigating a divorce can be intimidating, but you do not have to handle it on your own. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer can provide the trustworthy legal advice you need and provide a buffer between you and your former spouse if needed. Divorce lawyers thoroughly understand Texas state law and are experienced negotiators who can help work out challenging aspects of your split to make your experience as streamlined as possible.
How Do I Protect My Ability to Have a Say in My Divorce?
You must respond to your spouse’s divorce petition to maintain your right to participate in the divorce proceedings. You should respond by the specified deadline in the paperwork you were served with, which tells the court that you are aware of the divorce and participating in the proceedings. You can also file a counter-petition containing your own terms for the divorce. Then the negotiation or mediation process can start.
While you can take these steps alone, having a skilled lawyer on your side can be beneficial. Consulting a lawyer is highly recommended if there are potentially complicating factors in your case, including, but not limited to:
- Serving in the military.
- Possessing high-value assets.
- Living out of state.
- Having special needs children.
- Being in a same-sex marriage.
- Going through bankruptcy.
What if I Feel Threatened by My Spouse and Have Concerns About Participating in the Divorce?
Divorces are difficult, even if the split is amicable. In cases where there has been violent behavior or abuse, it can get much more challenging. Sometimes, if a spouse has suffered domestic violence, they may be afraid to participate at all in the divorce process due to a fear of angering their former spouse or because they are afraid of having to confront them again. Ignoring the proceedings and letting the court decide everything may seem simpler and safer.
However, this approach can have serious long-term financial and emotional consequences. Your abusive spouse may get full custody or an unfair share of assets if you do not get involved in the divorce process. Our compassionate divorce lawyers understand the complexities of leaving an abusive relationship. We will always put your safety first and will fight on your behalf to ensure your legal rights are upheld throughout the divorce.
Why Choose Our Law Firm?
At the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy, we have the knowledge and experience to help you through all aspects of your divorce. We provide a free, confidential case evaluation where you can ask questions and learn about your next steps. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and discover how we can assist you: 210-953-7486.