In Texas, the most common type of uncontested divorce is an “agreed divorce.” Basically, both you and your spouse must agree on property division, child custody, and support issues, along with anything else that might come up — you must both also be willing to sign all the required documents.
There is another type of uncontested divorce — a “default divorce” — which is when your spouse fails to respond to your divorce petition. However, these are rare — in most cases, uncontested divorce and agreed divorce are synonymous.
An uncontested divorce is often quicker, less expensive, and less stressful than a contested divorce, which is when you and your spouse can’t agree on the above critical issues and need attorneys (or the court) to work out the details.
Uncontested divorces are not for everyone. They work best when both you and your spouse are committed to working together and resolving your issues amicably.
In some cases, you may start with an uncontested divorce but later find that you and your spouse cannot agree on certain issues. If this happens, the divorce may become contested, and you will need to hire an attorney.
If you believe you’re looking at a potential uncontested divorce, here’s what you need to know.
Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce in Texas
Here’s what needs to be in place to file for an uncontested divorce.
Either you or your spouse must have been a resident of Texas for at least six months and have been a resident of the county where the divorce is being filed for at least 90 days.
Grounds for Divorce
Texas recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce.
In an uncontested divorce, the most common ground is “insupportability,” which means that the marriage has become insupportable due to discord or conflict of personalities, and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
If you’re going to file a fault-based divorce, you’ll need to provide evidence of the fault and will almost certainly have to go before a judge, and possibly even to trial. You’ll most likely need an attorney.
Agreement on All Issues
Both you and your spouse have to agree on everything related to the divorce, including property division, child custody, and support. If there are any unresolved issues, the divorce is considered contested.
No Pending Bankruptcy
If either you or your spouse has a pending bankruptcy case, your divorce can’t be finalized until the bankruptcy case is resolved. However, it’s possible some issues, including child custody and visitation, may be allowed after the bankruptcy stay has been initiated.
Texas law requires a 60-day waiting period from the date the divorce petition is filed before the divorce can be finalized. This waiting period can be waived in certain circumstances, such as when domestic violence is involved.
Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce
While an uncontested divorce can be a bad idea in some cases, it does have a few benefits if you and your spouse are on the same page.
Uncontested divorces are generally less expensive than contested divorces. Since both spouses agree on all issues, there is no need for costly litigation, and attorney fees are typically lower.
It’s also possible to get divorced without an attorney, depending on your situation and location, saving you additional money.
Uncontested divorces can be finalized more quickly than contested divorces because you’re not having to attend multiple court dates; go back and forth on the terms of the divorce; or have meetings with attorneys who then have to draft, send, or file paperwork.
The entire process can be completed as quickly as Texas law allows, assuming you and your spouse sign and file all your paperwork correctly and in a timely manner.
However, if you make any mistakes, this will delay the process.
By working together to resolve issues, uncontested divorces can be less stressful for both you and your children. This can lead to better communication and co-parenting relationships in the future.
However, some people find that having an experienced attorney working on their case actually reduces their stress. They no longer have to worry about making mistakes or tracking down their spouse or attorney to get them to sign paperwork.
Additionally, some people will feel relief that an experienced attorney is working to ensure they don’t get harmed financially and that they will have a child custody and visitation arrangement that works best for them.
More Freedom to Work Out the Details
In an uncontested divorce, you don’t have a judge, attorneys, or mediators helping you to work out the details of the divorce, which means you are free to work them out at the pace you want and in the way you want without having to pay fees or stick to deadlines.
The big drawback is that you’re doing this on your own, so you might not realize that you’re making a big mistake by, for example, allowing your spouse to keep a piece of property.
Experienced attorneys will ensure you get the best deal possible, which can be especially important if your spouse is being manipulative or hiding things from you.
Uncontested divorces typically involve less public disclosure of personal information as there are fewer court hearings and documents filed.
Completing Your Uncontested Divorce
Here’s what you need to do to successfully complete your uncontested divorce.
1. Prepare The Divorce Petition
The first step in filing for an uncontested divorce is to prepare the Original Petition for Divorce. This document outlines the basic information about your marriage, such as the date of marriage, the names of any children, and the grounds for divorce.
2. File the Petition
After preparing the divorce petition, you or your spouse must file it with the appropriate county court. You will also need to pay a filing fee, which varies by county.
3. Serve Your Spouse
If you filed the petition, you must legally notify your spouse of the divorce — in uncontested divorces, your spouse can sign either a Respondent’s Original Answer form or a Waiver of Service Only form to avoid having to have them served.
If they’re not willing to sign either of these forms, you need to have them served by a constable, a sheriff, or a private service authorized by the court.
If you don’t know where your spouse is and these other methods have failed, you can serve them through other means, known as substituted service, which may include email or social media — this is at the discretion of the court.
4. Prepare the Divorce Decree
During the 60-day waiting period, you and your spouse should work together to prepare a final divorce decree. This document outlines the terms of your divorce, including property division, child custody, and support.
5. Attend the Final Hearing
After the waiting period has passed, either you or your spouse (and attorney if applicable) will likely have to go to court a single time for what’s called a “prove-up hearing,” which is where a judge will ask some questions about the marriage and divorce that have essentially already been settled.
These are mostly yes-or-no questions confirming what you and your spouse have already worked out.
It’s possible that, depending on the court, you may be able to appear through a phone or video call instead of showing up to court. It’s also possible that a written deposition will be sufficient.
At this point, all you have to do is wait for the judge to sign the divorce decree, making it official. You’ll get either a paper or digital copy of the signed document (or both) depending on the county and court.
Let’s Talk About How We Can Help with Your Uncontested Divorce Today
If divorce is looming in your life, we’re here to help. Uncontested divorces are difficult to navigate, with tons of paperwork and requirements that can be confusing.
We’ll walk you through the process and help you get everything in place so that your uncontested divorce goes as smoothly as possible.
Contact us today to set up your initial consultation, or call us directly at (214) 646-3253.
We can’t wait to hear from you!