When a divorce or dissolution petition has been filed with a court in Texas, the petitioner must ensure that the petition was, in fact, served — which is the legal term for “delivered.” This is usually accomplished via the individual’s lawyer. The other spouse who receives the petition is known as the defendant or respondent in the overall divorce or dissolution process, and he or she must answer within a certain amount of time — usually around three weeks.
If the defendant does not respond within that time frame, he or she will lose the right to argue his or her position on various divorce issues, such as child custody and property division. The response acknowledges receipt of the petition and states whether the individual either agrees or disagrees with it. Some of the information that must be agreed upon includes information regarding the spouses, their marriage, requests for property division, alimony and child support.
If the divorce/dissolution petition is served, but the party fails to reply, the court will typically take this to mean that the respondent has agreed to the divorce and the terms that the petitioner laid out in the petition. When this occurs, the respondent has fallen into default. This means that he or she will lose the right to contest any aspect of the divorce.
Of course, if a default is entered against a spouse, he or she may be able to have the court remove it in order for the divorce to be contested. However, sound legal reasons must be shown that justify this. When a Texas resident is served with a petition for divorce or dissolution, he or she typically chooses to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to fight for his or her best interests.
Source: FindLaw, “Answering the Divorce/Dissolution Petition“, Accessed on June 27, 2016