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Legal Pleadings

Sec. 6.401.  CAPTION.  (a)  Pleadings in a suit for dissolution of marriage or annulment shall be styled “In the Matter of the Marriage of __________ and __________.”

(b)  Pleadings in a suit to declare a voidable marriage shall be styled “A Suit To Declare Void the Marriage of __________ and __________.”

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, Sec. 1, eff. April 17, 1997.

Sec. 6.402.  PLEADINGS.  (a)  A petition in a suit for dissolution of a marriage is sufficient without the necessity of specifying the underlying evidentiary facts if the petition alleges the grounds relied on substantially in the language of the statute.

(b)  Allegations of grounds for relief, matters of defense, or facts relied on for a temporary order that are stated in short and plain terms are not subject to special exceptions because of form or sufficiency.

(c)  The court shall strike an allegation of evidentiary fact from the pleadings on the motion of a party or on the court’s own motion.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, Sec. 1, eff. April 17, 1997.

Sec. 6.403.  ANSWER.  The respondent in a suit for dissolution of a marriage is not required to answer on oath or affirmation.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, Sec. 1, eff. April 17, 1997.

Sec. 6.4035.  WAIVER OF SERVICE.  (a)  A party to a suit for the dissolution of a marriage may waive the issuance or service of process after the suit is filed by filing with the clerk of the court in which the suit is filed the waiver of the party acknowledging receipt of a copy of the filed petition.

(b)  The waiver must contain the mailing address of the party who executed the waiver.

(c)  The waiver must be sworn but may not be sworn before in the suit.

(d)  The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure do not apply to a waiver executed under this section.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 614, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Sec. 6.404.  INFORMATION REGARDING PROTECTIVE ORDERS.  At any time while a suit for dissolution of a marriage is pending, if the court believes, on the basis of any information received by the court, that a party to the suit or a member of the party’s family or household may be a victim of family violence, the court shall inform that party of the party’s right to apply for a protective order under Title 4.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 361, Sec. 2, eff. June 17, 2005.

Sec. 6.405.  PROTECTIVE ORDER.  (a)  The petition in a suit for dissolution of a marriage must state whether a protective order under Title 4 is in effect or if an application for a protective order is pending with regard to the parties to the suit.

(b)  The petitioner shall attach to the petition a copy of each protective order issued under Title 4 in which one of the parties to the suit was the applicant and the other party was the respondent without regard to the date of the order.  If a copy of the protective order is not available at the time of filing, the petition must state that a copy of the order will be filed with the court before any hearing.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, Sec. 1, eff. April 17, 1997.  Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, Sec. 6.04, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Sec. 6.406.  MANDATORY JOINDER OF SUIT AFFECTING PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP.  (a)  The petition in a suit for dissolution of a marriage shall state whether there are children born or adopted of the marriage who are under 18 years of age or who are otherwise entitled to support as provided by Chapter 154.

(b)  If the parties are parents of a child, as defined by Section 101.003, and the child is not under the continuing jurisdiction of another court as provided by Chapter 155, the suit for dissolution of a marriage must include a suit affecting the parent-child relationship under Title 5.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, Sec. 1, eff. April 17, 1997.

Sec. 6.407.  TRANSFER OF SUIT AFFECTING PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP TO DIVORCE COURT.  (a)  If a suit affecting the parent-child relationship is pending at the time the suit for dissolution of a marriage is filed, the suit affecting the parent-child relationship shall be transferred as provided by Section 103.002 to the court in which the suit for dissolution is filed.

(b)  If the parties are parents of a child, as defined by Section 101.003, and the child is under the continuing jurisdiction of another court under Chapter 155, either party to the suit for dissolution of a marriage may move that court for transfer of the suit affecting the parent-child relationship to the court having jurisdiction of the suit for dissolution.  The court with continuing jurisdiction shall transfer the proceeding as provided by Chapter 155.  On the transfer of the proceedings, the court with jurisdiction of the suit for dissolution of a marriage shall consolidate the two causes of action.

(c)  After transfer of a suit affecting the parent-child relationship as provided in Chapter 155, the court with jurisdiction of the suit for dissolution of a marriage has jurisdiction to render an order in the suit affecting the parent-child relationship as provided by Title 5.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, Sec. 1, eff. April 17, 1997.

Sec. 6.408.  SERVICE OF CITATION.  Citation on the filing of an original petition in a suit for dissolution of a marriage shall be issued and served as in other civil cases.  Citation may also be served on any other person who has or who may assert an interest in the suit for dissolution of the marriage.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, Sec. 1, eff. April 17, 1997.

Sec. 6.409.  CITATION BY PUBLICATION.  (a)  Citation in a suit for dissolution of a marriage may be by publication as in other civil cases, except that notice shall be published one time only.

(b)  The notice shall be sufficient if given in substantially the following form:

“STATE OF TEXAS

To (name of person to be served with citation), and to all whom it may concern (if the name of any person to be served with citation is unknown), Respondent(s),

“You have been sued.  You may employ an attorney.  If you or your attorney do not file a written answer with the clerk who issued this citation by 10 a.m. on the Monday next following the expiration of 20 days after you were served this citation and petition, a default judgment may be taken against you.  The petition of __________, Petitioner, was filed in the Court of __________ County, Texas, on the ______ day of __________, against __________, Respondent(s), numbered ______, and entitled  ‘In the Matter of Marriage of __________ and __________. The suit requests __________ (statement of relief sought).’

“The Court has authority in this suit to enter any judgment or decree dissolving the marriage and providing for the property division that will be binding on you.

“Issued and given under my hand and seal of said Court at __________, Texas, this the ______ day of __________, ______.

“…………………………

Clerk of the __________ Court of

____________ County, Texas

By _______, Deputy.”

(c)  The form authorized in this section and the form authorized by Section 102.010 may be combined in appropriate situations.

(d)  If the citation is for a suit in which a parent-child relationship does not exist, service by publication may be completed by posting the citation at the courthouse door for seven days in the county in which the suit is filed.

(e)  If the petitioner or the petitioner’s attorney of record makes an oath that no child presently under 18 years of age was born or adopted by the spouses and that no appreciable amount of property was accumulated by the spouses during the marriage, the court may dispense with the appointment of an attorney ad litem.  In a case in which citation was by publication, a statement of the evidence, approved and signed by the judge, shall be filed with the papers of the suit as a part of the record.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 7, Sec. 1, eff. April 17, 1997.

Sec. 6.410.  REPORT TO ACCOMPANY PETITION.  At the time a petition for divorce or annulment of a marriage is filed, the petitioner shall also file a completed report that may be used by the district clerk, at the time the petition is granted, to comply with Section 194.002, Health and Safety Code.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1128, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 6.411.  CONFIDENTIALITY OF PLEADINGS.  (a)  This section applies only in a county with a population of 3.4 million or more.

(b)  Except as otherwise provided by law, all pleadings and other documents filed with the court in a suit for dissolution of a marriage are confidential, are excepted from required public disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may not be released to a person who is not a party to the suit until after the date of service of citation or the 31st day after the date of filing the suit, whichever date is sooner