Divorce is difficult for everyone involved. It can be emotionally and physically draining because so many decisions need to be made throughout the entire process.
One critical decision happens at the very beginning when deciding whether to request a waiver of service in Texas. This precarious aspect of the divorce process in Texas needs to be handled carefully so that you do not inadvertently give up your legal rights. Let me further explain how this works.
Are you starting the divorce process in Texas? Find expert legal help from a family law attorney. I support clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, or Harris County.
What is a Waiver of Service in Texas Divorces?
A waiver of service typically comes into play when couples arrive at a mutual, amicable decision to divorce. One party initiates the divorce by filing an Original Petition for Divorce to dissolve the marriage, but the other party may not want to be served with divorce papers to avoid embarrassment or upsetting the children of the marriage.
In this case, the party that is the respondent to the divorce petition must file a waiver of service that formally acknowledges that they do not want to be served with divorce papers. According to the Texas Family Law Code, the respondent must follow certain steps to complete this process:
- The respondent must complete the waiver of service before a notary who is not an attorney involved in the suit.
- In the waiver, the respondent must acknowledge that he or she has been provided with a copy of the petition of divorce.
- The respondent must file the notarized waiver of service with the county clerk in the same county where the divorce was filed.
On the surface, this seems like a cut-and-dry issue, but there are actually significant ramifications if you sign a waiver of service in Texas. I’ll further explain a few critical things that you need to know about what happens if you decide to sign this form.
How a Waiver of Service Could Affect Your Divorce in Texas
1. A Final Decision Could Be Made Without Your Consent
When you sign a waiver of service, not only are you acknowledging that you have received a copy of the Original Petition for Divorce, but you are also acknowledging that a judge could determine the divorce case without further notice to you.
Unless you are 100 percent okay with the potential outcome of the divorce, then I highly recommend that you re-consider signing a waiver of service. You do not want to relinquish your rights and have your post-divorce life be decided without your input.
The court will be in a position to make their own judgments about the terms that should be included in the Final Decree of Divorce. This could include decisions about property rights and the division of marital assets, among other things. This will be signed by a judge, making it official. It’s a serious matter that should not be taken lightly.
2. Your Parental Rights Are at Stake
Some of the terms that could also be determined by a judge without your involvement include child custody and child support. If you have children through marriage, signing a waiver of service could expose you to the risk of an unfavorable child custody decision or a hefty child support obligation.
Unless you are 100 percent okay with a judge potentially making a decision about your future relationship with your children, then you should consider not signing the waiver of service. Your parental rights could be in jeopardy, you may not receive favorable visitation rights, and you will not be in a position to argue for the best possible financial terms for child support.
3. You May Overlook Key Details That An Attorney Can Help With
A Petition for Divorce is laced with legal terms and jargon. That’s why the waiver of service form includes a disclaimer that you should not proceed if you do not understand what is contained in the divorce petition or if you have not consulted with an attorney about the terms outlined in the divorce.
Even if you are pursuing an amicable divorce from your spouse, you could be placing your legal rights at risk. A family law attorney that specializes in divorce will help you look through key aspects of the divorce paperwork, ensure that you are okay with the information contained in the petition, help answer questions, and ultimately protect your rights.
Remember that by signing the waiver of service, you are essentially allowing the court to make decisions on your behalf without your best interest in mind. Conversely, I will always look out for your best interest by fighting to protect your rights.
Find Legal Support with a Divorce in Texas
Signing a waiver of service in Texas is a big decision. You are not guaranteed to know what will be ordered by a judge, which is not a good position to be in.
If you simply want to prevent a difficult situation from becoming even worse by avoiding being served with papers, then we can work through the alternative of filing an Answer that still protects your legal rights. Or, if there is another reason why you are considering signing a Waiver of Service, then let’s talk through your situation.
I have helped numerous clients navigate the divorce process and protect their rights. If you live in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, or Harris County, then call me today to receive expert legal support.
Call my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to discuss your divorce situation and learn more about a waiver of service in Texas. I’m here to help you throughout the divorce process.