As between a Waiver of Service versus. an Answer, which one will keep a spouse from getting served and still require both signatures to finalize the divorce?

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As between a Waiver of Service versus. an Answer, which one will keep a spouse from getting served and still require both signatures to finalize the divorce?

We have one child together and have agreed upon terms of a divorce; she is going to file the petition. She wants me to sign a waiver of service so she doesn’t have to pay to have me served. Do I still get to sign the final decree for the divorce to be final? Also, if I go an file an answer to the divorce after she files the petition can this act as notification to the court? I want to make sure that I have the option of not signing the final decree and getting an attorney if anything changes on the court date.

Asked on April 11, 2012 under Family Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A waiver of service just means that she doesn't have to have someone come and give you a copy of the petition or "be served" with papers regarding the divorce.  Most waivers are just a waiver of the service--- so you can still file an answer.  Be careful and review the waiver carefully.  Some waiver's in divorce forms go beyond basic "waiver of service" and also waive any future notice to any other hearings in the divorce-- which means that your spouse could go enter a final decree without further notice to you.  Filing an answer has the same effect as a "waiver of service"-- if you file an answer you acknowledge to the court that you are aware of the lawsuit for divorce and your spouse no longer has to have you served.  Because waivers can be risky, you should just agree to file a basic answer if you are not sure about the effect of your waiver.  An answer is just a one page document that notes your appearance.  From there, the court and your spouse will have to notify you before they can enter a final order in your divorce, which seems to be your objective.  If you agree with the decree that she proposes, you can still sign in and get it entered, even if you file an answer. 


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