While divorce is sometimes inevitable, your divorce does not need to mirror the plot of a bad soap opera. Drama and discord are not a necessary part of the divorce process. There is a better way to divorce – an uncontested divorce. Texas’ uncontested divorce process is a good option for spouses that are able to maintain open communication and reach an agreement on their own without the need to attend a divorce trial before a judge. This simplified divorce process is often relatively fast, and has much less of an impact on your pocket book than taking a divorce to trial. This article provides a general overview of the uncontested divorce process in Texas. If after reading this article, you have questions about obtaining an uncontested divorce, contact a local family law attorney for advice.
Simply, an uncontested divorce is one where the spouses agree on all terms, while a contested divorce is one where the spouses cannot agree on one or more major issues in the divorce. Uncontested expedited divorces are an option for divorcing Texas couples who do not have any minor children together. These types of divorces are often referred to as simplified divorces because the spouses have agreed on all terms, there are fewer forms to complete and filing fees are sometimes less than a traditional divorce. Texas restricts these types of uncontested divorces to spouses that meet the following criteria:
However, if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on any issue in your divorce or if any of the above criteria do not apply, then you do not qualify for this type of uncontested divorce in Texas. Nevertheless, Texas does offer divorce forms and self-help websites for couples with children that resolved all issues in their divorce case, although these types of divorces require the spouses to have agreed on child support, visitation and custody issues. For more information on calculating child support in Texas, click here.
To obtain an uncontested divorce in Texas you must meet the following criteria:
If you meet the all above criteria, you may proceed with your uncontested divorce by filing the required forms set forth below. Texas Law Help publishes divorce kits and a Q&A section for those trying to complete the divorce process on their own.
If you plan to file for divorce without the help of an attorney, you will be responsible for filing the right documents with the right court. Texas’ district courts oversee divorce cases and trials. Texas has approximately 456 district courts spread throughout the various counties in the state. Where you live will determine where you file for divorce because generally, you will file your divorce paperwork in the county in which you reside. Nevertheless, if you and your spouse have separated but still reside in Texas, either the county in which you lived, or where your spouse has lived for the last three months is proper to file your paperwork.
The Texas Court website offers online forms for completing an uncontested divorce available here or in hard copy at your local courthouse. The following documents must be filed with your divorce paperwork:
If you and your spouse have children together under the age of 18, then the following forms must be filed as well:
The required paperwork to complete a divorce in Texas often varies from county to county, and thus, forms in addition to those listed above may be required to complete your divorce. It is best to check with your local court clerk if you have questions or to determine whether you need to file additional forms.
Texas has a 60-day waiting period to complete a divorce. Even in uncontested cases, Texas requires 61 days to have passed before your divorce can be finalized. A final hearing will be held before the judge to complete your divorce. If all your paperwork is filed correctly and the judge finds that your agreement is reasonable, the judge will sign the Final Decree of Divorce. Note that the date the judge signs your Decree, is when your divorce becomes final, although this may or may not be the date of your court hearing.
If you have additional questions about obtaining an uncontested divorce in Texas, contact an experienced family law attorney for assistance.
For more information on uncontested divorces in Texas and to read the complete statute, see Texas Statutes and Codes, Title 1, Subtitle C, Chapter 6, Subchapter A.