Below, learn more about e-filing and what is required when e-filing in Texas, including:
- the data required,
- rules about giving other parties to the lawsuit notice, and
- the fees necessary to ensure that your filing is accepted on the first try.
Where do I go to e-file?
There are many different e-filing service providers (EFSPs) that file with the central e-filing manager (EFM): eFile Texas. For self-represented litigants, eFile Texas acts as both an e-filing manager as well as an e-filing service provider. eFile Texas also includes a self-help guide for first-time filers. To evaluate which service provider works best for your situation, see the complete list of service providers.
eFile Texas's guided interview process will help litigants prepare for the filing process.
What information do I need when e-filing?
After registering with your e-filing service, you will have to complete the following prompts:
Case information: the court’s location, the category, the case type, and any procedures/remedies requested (such as an injunction or protective order).
- Note: most filing fees are non-refundable, therefore it is crucial to ensure that the case information is proper and filed in the proper court. For a full list of case types for entry, please review the Technology Standards of the Judicial System.
Party information: details surrounding the parties in your case including names, addresses, emails, and social security numbers. Most counties do not require you to have this data on the opposing party, but you should verify this requirement with your local clerk.
- Note: Texas Family Code 102.008 requires identification of minor children by name and date of birth if the child is involved in the suit (i.e., a divorce involving children). Texas Family Code 102.0086 ensures that a minor child's personal information will remain confidential throughout and beyond the trial. This is often done with the court listing only the child's initials in public-facing documents. Refer to the article on the redaction and protection of sensitive data.
Filing details: this includes the filing type (e-file), the filing code, and a description of the filing.
- Note: The client reference number prompt is for billing purposes and will not be necessary if you are self-represented. For a full list of filing codes, see the Technology Standards of the Judicial System.
The lead document(s): This is where you will include a signed PDF of the form you are trying to file, such as a petition for divorce. When uploading your lead document, make sure that the proper information is redacted. eFile Texas has an auto-redact tool, and a drop-down box for designating sensitive data.
- Note: The document must be in PDF form.
- Redaction is modifying a document to conceal confidential and sensitive information. You can redact by blacking or crossing the data out, using a redacting tool, or removing the data and writing ‘REDACTED’ in parentheses where the data was.
Attachments: This prompt is for any necessary attachments to your lead document. Generally, the attachment will be a standing order that is required by your county. For more information on standing orders, and to determine whether your county requires a standing order, see Standing Orders.
- Note: For an example, see Bexar County’s Standing Order Regarding Child(ren), Property and Conduct of Parties in Divorce and Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship.
Additional services and fees: This is a crucial step in filing where many people run into issues. Additional services provided by the clerk’s office allow the filer to seek procedural assistance in certifying, issuing, and serving the necessary parties. There are also fees necessary for issues such as postage and copying. It is important for the filer to ensure that they have paid all the necessary fees to avoid return for correction. Read more on additional services and fees below.
What are some common issues causing "return for correction"?
The local clerk is limited to nine reasons to return an e-filed document for correction. These reasons are:
Document addressed to wrong clerk/location
Duplicate new case filing
PDF documents combined
Containing sensitive data
If my document is returned for correction, will I miss my deadline?
If the document is returned for correction, the filer will have the ability to copy the original filing, make corrections and resubmit the filing with the original file date for a brief time. This means that your deadline will not be missed in the event of "return for correction." Generally, filers have a maximum of 72 hours to correct and return their original file within the deadline.
Clerks must give the filing party a reason and reference for the correction necessary from the list above.
What are the additional services and fees?
The additional services and fees tab is provided by the local clerk to assist e-filers in completing procedural requirements for filing, issuance, and enforcement of your claims. Each locality provides a different configuration for its services. The services provided may include:
Issuance of writs, summons, warrants, and orders
Service of process
Note that in the most recent update, eFile Texas provides the “additional services” and “communications” tabs next to the “details” tab under step 3 (Filings).
Will I need to pay for service copies of pleadings when I file a document that requests service?
Yes. One of the most encountered errors in e-filing with the clerk involves selecting the inappropriate number of copies for service when the filing requests service. Under the “additional services” screen, the petitioner should select both “issue citation/subpoena/writ” (whichever applies to your case) as well as “copies.” The copies service is not the service of producing copies of your petition, rather the copies option requires you to number the number of pages that must be copied for issuance.
For example: if a local court requires you to file a standing order that is four pages, and you file a three-page petition for divorce, then the “quantity” of copies you should request will be seven pages for each party that must be served. Failure to meet this requirement will result in a return for correction due to insufficient fees.
How do I find out which "additional services" I need to pay for?
The options that appear in the “additional services” menus are different for every court and configured based on the specifications and requests of the courts. Please reach out to the clerk where your case is being filed to ensure that you are complying with local requirements.
For a detailed list of “additional services”, see the Technology Standards of the Judicial System.
What if I can't afford my filing fees?
If your income is low, you may qualify to get your filing fees waived. Rule 145 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure offers waivers for filing fees when the qualifying applicant moves for and is granted a fee waiver. See Court Fees and Fee Waivers for an explanation of the fee waiver process.
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