|HOW TO DO AN AGREED DECREE IN A TEXAS DIVORCE
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There are three major documents in a Texas divorce: the petition, the waiver, and the decree. The petition basically outlines the situation of the person who wants the divorce. It says, "My name is Jim Bob and I married Judy Bob on September 30, 2008 and we're not getting along so I want a divorce. I also want the stereo system and the cat."
The waiver is the document that Judy Bob signs so that Jim Bob can prove to the court that she's been notified of the divorce. It basically says, "I'm Judy Bob and I've been given a copy of the petition for divorce and I read and I understand. Go right ahead and do it."
The decree is the document that the judge signs, granting the divorce. It basically says, "The court has reviewed the evidence and Jim Bob and Judy Bob are divorced and Jim Bob gets the stereo and Judy Bob gets the Victoria's Secret collection."
Normally, the decree has only one signature block and that's for the judge. Occasionally, however, you may want to add signature blocks for both of the parties involved in the divorce. Why? Sometimes the level of distrust has gotten so high that the respondent - Judy Bob in this case - just won't sign a waiver - they want to see the decree of divorce before they sign anything. They're convinced that the petitioner is going to change the terms of the petition after they sign the waiver and they're going to get the shaft.
Now, that doesn't happen, of course. The judge will review the petition very carefully and if the terms in the decree don't match the terms in the petition, he won't grant the divorce. Despite that, a certain number of people will absolutely refuse to sign the waiver.
At that point you have to make a decision: is your spouse just torturing you or is she/he being sincere? Can you actually do something to reassure her/him so that you can get that signature, or will he/she never sign anything for you?
If you're convinced that your spouse will never sign off on the divorce, then you can hire a deputy sheriff to serve the papers on him/her and the deputy will swear that your spouse has been notified. If you think your spouse is being sincere, however, there's another route that you can take and that involves changing the decree of divorce into and agreed decree of divorce. With an agreed decree of divorce, you both have a chance to review it and sign off on it. And the good news is that it's very, very easy to do. It just involved making a couple of simple changes to the decree.
Here's how the heading of a normal decree of divorce looks:
If you want to use an agreed decree of divorce, just change, "DECREE OF DIVORCE," to, "AGREED DECREE OF DIVORCE."
And you need to make one other change at the end of the decree. Here's how the signature block looks in a normal decree of divorce:
So, if you want it to be an agreed decree, you need to insert two signature blocks - one for you and one for your spouse - just before the judge's signature. And, your spouse's signature should be notarized.
This is what it should look like:
And there's one other change you make, only this is to the waiver. The normal waiver of citation says:
As Respondent in the above-numbered cause, I have received a copy of the Original Petition for Divorce filed in this case and I have read it and understand it.
Change that to: As Respondent in the above-numbered cause, I have received a copy of the Original Petition for Divorce filed in this case and the Agreed Decree of Divorce and I have read them and understand them.
Have your spouse sign both the waiver and the decree in front of a notary and then file both documents with the court.