Texas Divorce Citation Process

In Texas, the divorce process initiates with a critical document known as a citation. This article aims to provide a clear understanding of what a citation is in the context of a Texas divorce, its legal importance, and the procedures involved in issuing and responding to it. We will explore the specifics of the citation process, detailing its delivery, and the implications for both the petitioner and the respondent in a divorce case.

What Is A Citation?

A citation in a Texas divorce is a legal document that formally notifies the respondent (the spouse who did not file for divorce) of the divorce action initiated against them. Accompanying the divorce petition, the citation outlines the grounds for divorce and the terms being sought.

Legal Requirements of a Citation in Texas

Texas law stipulates specific requirements for a citation to be considered valid. It must include the name of the court, the names of both parties, and clear instructions for the respondent on how to proceed. The citation informs the respondent of the need to file a written response within a specified timeframe, usually 20 days if they are within Texas.

Serving the Citation

The process of serving the citation is a pivotal step in Texas divorce proceedings. The citation, along with the divorce petition, must be delivered to the respondent in a legally prescribed manner. This service can be executed by a private process server, a sheriff, or a constable. The individual serving the citation must then complete a Return of Service form, which is a proof of service that is filed with the court.

Responding to the Citation

Upon receipt of the citation, the respondent has a limited period to file an answer with the court. If the respondent fails to respond, the court may issue a default judgment, potentially granting the petitioner’s requests by default. The answer is the respondent’s opportunity to agree with, dispute, or raise counterclaims against the allegations and terms in the petition.

Consequences of Not Responding to a Citation

Ignoring a citation in a Texas divorce can lead to significant consequences. Without a response from the respondent, the court may proceed with the divorce case in their absence, often ruling in favor of the petitioner’s demands. This can affect critical aspects of the divorce, such as property division, child custody, and support arrangements.


A citation is the document that triggers the formal divorce process in Texas. It is essential for both parties to understand its significance and the subsequent legal steps. Being informed about the citation process ensures that both parties can actively participate in their divorce proceedings and safeguard their legal rights and interests.

To retain an experienced Texas divorce lawyer for your divorce or child custody case in DallasDentonCollin or Rockwall County, please schedule a consultation with us today.