What is a Waiver of Service?

Waiver papers with gavel

There are two types of divorce waivers of service in Texas (also referred to as a waiver of citation): a Specific Waiver of Service and a Global Waiver of Service. You must file your petition for divorce before you can submit a waiver of service to your spouse. By filing a signed Specific or Global waiver with the court, the respondent acknowledges receipt of the petition for divorce and waives the right to be formally served with divorce papers. The similarity between the two types of waivers ends there.

Be extremely cautious about signing a Global Waiver of Service

When you sign a Specific Waiver—which must also be notarized and filed with the court to be recognized—you do NOT waive any other rights, primarily the right to have a say in your divorce. In order to finalize your divorce, you will need to agree to the terms of the divorce and sign off on your Final Decree of Divorce.

With the old school Global Waivers, you waive your rights to a whole lot more than a Specific Waiver, including the rights to have a say in your divorce and learn anything else about your divorce case. You won’t receive any notifications from the court or any paperwork pertaining to your divorce after you sign the waiver.

Global Waivers can be very dangerous, especially if you share any property or children with the other party to the divorce. Essentially, your spouse gets to make all of the decisions, and once you sign and file a Global Waiver of Service, there’s usually nothing you can do to reverse course.

Technically, the other party can go straight to court with a divorce decree 60 days later and enter the decree without notifying you of anything. They can walk into court, do a prove-up and get exactly what they want and how they want it, without notifying you of a single thing.

Obviously, our firm strongly encourages people NOT to sign any waiver of service without reviewing it carefully first, preferably with an attorney. This is true of any legal document someone asks you to sign—divorce-related or otherwise.

Waiver of service for divorce forms you find online can cause problems

Unfortunately, both types of waiver of service documents look similar, which can be problematic for people who try to handle their own divorces without legal representation. Many people download the first waiver of service for divorce form they find online, without understanding what rights they give away by signing on the dotted line.

Even if you and your spouse believe you have an agreed or uncontested divorce, hiring a reputable attorney to help you file paperwork properly, like uncontested waiver divorce documents, can save you a lot of headaches, not to mention money and other assets. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you’re not familiar with the paperwork you’re signing, you don’t read it closely, and you give up some fundamental rights and property.

In general, do-it-yourself divorces usually aren’t a good idea anyway, unless you and your spouse literally have no assets and no children. We’ve had many clients come to us for help after they or their ex filed paperwork improperly or didn’t complete all the steps necessary to finalize their divorce—much to their surprise. Investing in some legal guidance upfront will almost always save you time, stress and money in the long run.

Learn more about the dangers of DIY divorce here.

When is it a good idea to use a Texas waiver of service?

Many people refer to the waiver of service as a nice way to start a divorce but I don’t necessarily agree. Sure, it can be embarrassing for your spouse when a process server shows up at his or her place of work or residence to serve divorce papers—but papers can be served discreetly. Besides, do you know anybody who feels good about getting sued? Being asked for a divorce is painful, regardless of how the petitioner makes their intentions known.

I’m not a huge fan of waivers of service unless the parties have thoroughly discussed the divorce and have a pretty solid understanding of the terms of the divorce. A waiver of service may work well when couples have limited assets, no child custody or child support issues, and they have a divorce decree that’s ready to roll. However, those situations are really rare.

If you and your spouse find yourselves in one of the rare situations where you truly agree on practically every matter pertaining to your estate, a divorce mediation attorney can help you finalize necessary documents, like the petition for divorce, waiver of service divorce documents, final divorce decree and any ancillary documents.

What are the potential downsides of using a waiver of service Texas?

Sometimes it’s just easier and cleaner to serve the other party with papers. If the two sides get along, the serving of papers can be handled discreetly and cordially, where the petitioner gives the respondent a heads up that the papers are coming, so they can be prepared. Of course, if the two parties don’t get along well, forgoing a waiver of service and using a process server to serve the papers is typically the best option.

I also view the waiver of services as a Band-Aid approach. I firmly believe that you should rip the Band-Aid off quickly versus peel it off slowly, and the waiver of services serves as the slow peel.

I’ve also had clients (often those who aren’t the breadwinner) who receive a Global Waiver from a spouse who found it online. Once I explain to my client what rights they lose by signing, any remaining trust they had in their soon-to-be ex-spouse goes straight out the window—even if that spouse didn’t intend to prevent my client from making decisions about the divorce.

The couple unnecessarily goes from an amicable, “We can work through our divorce and child custody issues civilly and together,” to a contentious, “I don’t trust anything you say,” scenario. That mistrust is not only painful, it can really complicate a divorce if the parties aren’t willing to compromise here and there.

Waivers of service may compromise divorce strategy and slow down the divorce process

A waiver of service divorce Texas can also become problematic when the recipient holds off on signing the papers. For example, say Party A files for divorce and asks Party B to sign a waiver of service but Party B doesn’t sign the waiver. Then Party B goes ahead and files for divorce and serves Party A with divorce papers or files a SAPCR (suit affecting parent-child relationship) against Party A.

These situations often get confusing, and it can be difficult to figure out who is the petitioner and who is the respondent. This confusion can change the nature of who goes first during the divorce case, which can be very important from a strategic standpoint.

In the scenario above, even though Party B didn’t necessarily file first, if Party B has her ducks in a row in the countersuit she filed, say a SAPCR for child support, Party B may be able to get things rolling more quickly in the case she filed. That’s because she served Party A, while Party A is still waiting for Party B to sign the waiver of service for the divorce papers.

A waiver of service divorce can also slow the divorce process down when the respondent doesn’t have the document notarized, which is required in order for the waiver to be valid. Sometimes the respondent deliberately skips the notary, while in other cases, they don’t notice that it is required. Again, it’s usually easier, cleaner and faster to use a process server.

Have questions about divorce waiver of service Texas?

If you’re considering divorce in Texas and want to learn more about your options, the experienced family law attorneys at the Sisemore Law Firm are here to help. Whether you believe you have an uncontested divorce and want to learn more about using a mediation attorney or want to speak with a lawyer about child custody and child support issues, we’d be happy to speak with you. We can also answer any questions you have about divorce waiver of service.

To schedule a confidential case review with our founder attorney Justin Sisemore, please contact our Fort Worth family law firm today. Feel free to call the firm at (817) 336-4444 or connect with us online.

Photo Source: Canva.com

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