Being served with divorce papers might be a surprise for some or an expected event for others.

As the spouse being served, immediately seek the services of an experienced divorce attorney to help you through the process.

Divorce lawyers point out that beginning with the receipt of those papers, there are a number of legal responsibilities that must deal with and important preparations to make.

Once you find an experienced divorce attorney, he or she can advise what you need to know and do to get through the divorce.

Some Basics About Serving and Receiving Divorce Papers

When a spouse files for divorce with the family court, this puts in motion a series of events that will ultimately lead to the signing of a divorce decree by the court to legally terminate the marriage.

Filing the petition to divorce with the assistance of a divorce attorney is the first step in the process, causing the receiving spouse to be legally served with the announcement that a divorce petition has been filed.

Delivered in person by a court courier, the documents include the notice that a petition for divorce has been filed, a requirement for a response, and a hearing date for temporary orders needed while the divorce process is proceeding.

What Must A Spouse Do After Being Served?

Divorce lawyers stress that the worst thing that you could do after receiving papers is nothing at all.

Why? A divorce filed by a spouse can proceed even if you do not answer the petition!

According to divorce lawyers, it is important to accept the papers, read them carefully, and then respond by the required date, usually 15 to 20 days from receipt.

Within the petition for divorce should be a statement of the grounds for the divorce and what your spouse is asking for in terms of assets, custody, and other decisions that must be made.

To maintain a degree of control of the proceedings and ensure fairness, the recommendation is to seek the services of a lawyer who can respond as quickly as possible.

What Are The Options Of A Served Spouse?

When filing a response to divorce papers, there are two options on how to respond and what will happen next.

  • After filing the response within the allotted time, your divorce attorney can leave things as they are.
  • If you want to contest the divorce or make your own allegations and requests, a divorce lawyer will help to file a counter-petition.

From that point, the process will move into various stages of discovery and negotiation on which the attorney can advise you before going into collaboration, mediation, and/or to trial.

Don’t Delay When Served

When served with divorce papers by a spouse, a timely response with the assistance of your attorney is imperative for staying active in the process and ensuring that your needs are met.

Whether contesting or not, your input is essential to the divorce and what happens moving forward.

Hire an experienced divorce lawyer as soon as the papers are received and discuss it all with him or her first.

The lawyer will advise on the responsibilities and options you as a served spouse has so the divorce can be granted to everyone’s satisfaction.

Schreier & Housewirth Family Law

1800 West Bowie Street, Suite 200-E
Fort Worth TX 76110


Gregory L. Housewirth is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist practicing in Fort Worth Texas. With 30 years of family law experience, Mr. Housewirth has represented hundreds of clients in divorce, custody, CPS, modification, and grandparent cases. In addition, Mr. Housewirth is a qualified family law mediator and a member of Collaborative Law Texas, a practice group dedicated to promoting collaborative divorce in Texas.