04. Family Law
Simple Divorce in Texas
If you and your spouse have no assets, no real property and no minor children—and you agree about everything—an uncontested divorce in Texas may make sense for you. After all, the removal of these factors makes it fairly easy for spouses to reach a divorce agreement. Keep in mind, though, few couples meet those requirements, requiring most couples to undergo a contested divorce. However, if you do qualify, the process for an uncontested, agreed or no contest divorce in Texas is pretty straightforward.
To file for an uncontested divorce in Texas, a couple must have resided in Texas for at least six months and in the county where the party is filing for divorce for a minimum of 90 days. From there, if both parties agree to the terms of the divorce, the process generally goes as follows (your county clerk can provide additional details and next steps):
In order to initiate the divorce case, one party fills out and files the Original Petition for Divorce in the county where he or she resides. The petition notifies the court and spouse that the filing party wants a divorce. The party will also need to fill out and file a Civil Case Information Sheet at this time, and there may be other paperwork the county requires depending on where the party lives.
Pay required filing fees, which range from $150-300, depending on the county where the Petition for Divorce is filed.
The responding spouse signs a Waiver of Service form in front of a notary, which states the party doesn’t want to be formally served with the Petition for Divorce by a constable, sheriff or process server. This form must be signed at least one day after the Petition for Divorce is filed.
Both parties fill out and sign the Final Decree of Divorce, which states what the court has ordered in the case. Information in the decree covers separate property and debts the individuals own or are responsible for; how any retirement funds will be split; name change if desired; and other details.
After a mandatory 60-day waiting period, one or both parties appear in court in front of the judge to finalize the divorce. The judge will review all documents pertaining to the case, including the documents noted above and question the party or parties. (NOTE: Victims of family violence may be able to sidestep the waiting period with a Texas divorce 60-day waiver.)
If the judge approves the divorce, he or she will sign the Final Decree of Divorce, which finalizes the divorce.
Hiring a Texas Mediation Attorney to Help With an Uncontested Divorce in Texas
If you and your spouse agree on everything, own no real property and don’t have minor children, you may not need an attorney. You can request the appropriate Texas uncontested divorce forms from your county clerk’s office or download them from the state’s website.
However, if you and your spouse agree on most things and need an impartial attorney to sort out a few details and prepare the Final Decree of Divorce, hiring a mediation attorney can simplify and even expedite the process.
If a divorce is uncontested, this means the couple has sorted everything out regarding the division of assets, as well as custody, visitation and access to the child, they just want to talk through a few issues and make sure paperwork is filled out accurately and filed. A mediation attorney with experience practicing family law can answer any questions you may have.
Keep in mind, a mediation attorney for an uncontested divorce cannot offer legal advice to either party. If either party needs or would like legal advice, it’s best that each party hire a separate attorney to represent their individual interests.
In addition, an uncontested divorce in Texas with children is a rare situation because most parents don’t realize how many decisions they need to make for their kids in the short- and long-term or how the state views parental rights and duties as defined in the Texas Family Code.
It’s also important to know the difference between a mediation attorney and a divorce mediator. Texas mediation attorneys are licensed to practice law in the state, while many mediators in Texas haven’t attended law school or earned a law degree. If you hire a mediator who doesn’t understand the intricacies of divorce, child custody, child support, division of property, alimony, etc., you could end up with an unfavorable divorce decree and/or child custody settlement.