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How to navigate an uncontested divorce in Texas

A lot of people have ideas about divorce that are not necessarily true. For instance, did you know that most divorces in Texas never see the inside of a courtroom? Most divorces are settled prior to a trial in either mediation or in informal settlement negotiations between attorneys.

It is without a doubt true, therefore, that your divorce does not have to be one that is full of drama, anger, and bitterness. It is entirely possible that your divorce would be comprised of you and your spouse working together to solve problems and complete your divorce sooner rather than later.

The surest way to have a quick, simple and relatively pain-free divorce experience in Texas is to have an uncontested divorce. Especially if you and your spouse are able to communicate well together, an uncontested divorce is a way for you and your spouse to admit to one another that you do not have any outstanding issues that need to be addressed by a judge or even negotiated further.

Saving time, money and stressful interactions are the most common attributes of this kind of case. In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC we will discuss what an uncontested divorce is and how you can get one.

An uncontested divorce is…

If you and your spouse are in agreement on all issues that will come up in your divorce then you have an uncontested divorce. This means that you do not have to spend any time hemming and hawing over the details of your case. The more issues that exist between you and your spouse the less likely it is that you can have an uncontested divorce. If there is an issue that you all have not decided upon- child support, child visitation, how to divide the equity in your home after a sale, etc.- then you do not have an uncontested divorce.

Uncontested divorces are most common among spouses who do not have children. The reason being is that issues related to children tend to complicate (understandably) divorces and cause them to at least require some negotiation most likely in mediation. You will still need to pay filing fees for a divorce in the county where you reside. However, it is likely that your spouse will sign a waiver of service form instead of having to serve him or her formally with a process server or constable.

Here are some hallmarks for a traditional, uncontested divorce in Texas:

  • No children with your spouse who are under the age of 18
  • There are no pending litigation/bankruptcy proceedings that could delay your case
  • There is no property to divide nor any retirement benefits that are on the table
  • No spousal maintenance at issue

If this sounds like your situation then you may be on track to get an uncontested divorce. If not, then you will likely have to settle for a relatively quick divorce via negotiation with your spouse. That would not be the end of the world by any stretch of the imagination but it would still require some effort and more time than in an uncontested divorce.

How to begin an uncontested divorce in Texas

First and foremost you must have been a resident of the state of Texas for at least 6 months prior to your filing for divorce here. In addition, you must be a resident of the county that you are filing in for at least ninety days prior to filing. If you do not meet these requirements your spouse could potentially argue that the State does not have jurisdiction over your divorce. This isn’t all that likely in an uncontested divorce but since it’s the law I think that it is worth mentioning.

After that, all issues in your case must have already been discussed and settled upon by you and your spouse. This is critical, obviously. Filing for divorce under the assumption that you and your spouse agree on all subjects is not an uncontested divorce. My advice would be to speak to your spouse about the issues of your case long before filing. Once you file your case you all can have tentative agreements on the table regarding the relevant issues.

Do you need to hire an attorney if your divorce is going to be uncontested?

It may make sense to you on some level that if you and your spouse are not going to contest any of the issues of your case that you do not need to hire a divorce attorney to represent one of you. In my opinion, this would not be the best path for you to take. First of all, there is still the matter of putting your agreements in writing and drafting a Final Decree of Divorce. This can be a relatively straightforward process for those that have experience in writing them, but for someone with no legal experience, it can be quite difficult.

At the conclusion of your divorce, when the sixty-day waiting period has elapsed you will present your decree to a judge in a short hearing called a “prove up”. A judge will review what you have included and make sure it conforms to Texas law. If it does not then you run the risk of having to re-draft the document and come back to court. This will cost you time and money.

Think about how difficult it can be to get a morning off from work. Now imagine securing the morning off only to go to court and find out that you have to come back for a little detail that you left out of your decree. Do you think you can get another day off from work? If you can see this being a problem you are better off hiring an attorney so that you can get it done right the first time around.

Wrapping up your uncontested divorce

In addition to filing the final decree of divorce, there are various other forms that every county in Texas requires that you file. It will vary from county to county so it pays to check with the county or district clerk where you have filed. Again, if you head to court for your prove up hearing without having filed the necessary paperwork ahead of time it is possible that your divorce will not be granted.

Assuming that all of the necessary paperwork has been filed and your decree conforms to Texas law a judge will grant your divorce on the same day you attend court. From that point forward you are divorced. Copies of your divorce decree can be obtained from the clerk’s office usually for a small fee. It makes a ton of sense to keep a copy or two handy at home.

You can use the decree to change your name or update account information if need be. The major thing to keep in mind is that if you need a divorce by a certain date there is a 60 day waiting period that you must abide by. So, waiting until the last minute to file your case or settle issues with your spouse is a bad plan. Uncontested divorces are few and far between because people usually do not plan in advance how to wrap issues up on their own.

An experienced family law attorney can help you achieve whatever goals you have in your uncontested divorce. You can hire an attorney to represent you and to draft a final decree of divorce to match whatever settlement you and your spouse have reached on the various issues of your case.

Questions on uncontested divorces? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

If you have any questions about uncontested divorces or any other issue in Texas family law please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week where we can meet with you to discuss your case and address your questions at no charge to you. Our licensed family law attorneys take a great deal of pride in assisting people in our community just like you.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

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  8. How an annulment is different than a divorce in Texas
  9. Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Common Law Marriage and Divorce
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  11. Frequently Asked Questions in Texas Divorce Cases

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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