For couples seeking a divorce, a no contest divorce in Texas may seem like an attractive option. Sometimes referred to as a quick divorce in Texas, a truly uncontested divorce allows some spouses to finalize a divorce with minimal delay and may cost less than a contested or litigated divorce, which typically requires more billable hours and attorney’s fees.
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.
How to file an uncontested divorce in Texas
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):
Clients often ask us how to get a divorce in Texas when no one is at fault—a Texas no fault divorce—and whether a no fault divorce is the same as an uncontested divorce in Texas. If a couple agrees that neither party has done something to necessitate their divorce but they no longer want to be married to one another, the couple can file for a no fault divorce Texas based on irreconcilable differences.
However, that doesn’t mean the couple’s divorce would automatically be an uncontested divorce. Even if they agree that neither party is at fault, the couple may still disagree about property division, child custody and other matters. If the couple only disagrees on one matter, they still wouldn’t be able to file uncontested divorce Texas paperwork.
On the other hand, if the couple agrees that neither party is at fault for the divorce, and they also agree on all other matters pertaining to the divorce, they may be able to get a Texas uncontested divorce.
Many couples view their divorce as an easy divorce in Texas but most of those couples actually won’t qualify for an uncontested divorce. Before you start searching online for uncontested divorce in Texas forms, it’s critical to determine whether your divorce would truly qualify as uncontested.
The state of Texas encourages couples NOT to file for an uncontested divorce in Texas under the following circumstances:
A number of these issues pertain to children, assets and debts, which frequently complicate divorce. Figuring out child custody, visitation and child support isn’t as easy as it might seem and couples often disagree about decisions pertaining to their kids. The laws pertaining to spousal support, property division and bankruptcies in Texas are also complex, and most couples benefit from seeking legal advice on these matters.
While it is true that divorce can and often does come with a high price tag, there are steps you can take to minimize the cost of divorce in Texas.
One of the costliest mistakes people make is trying to get a divorce without legal guidance.
As noted above, Texas divorce and child custody laws are very complicated. If you try to handle your divorce on your own and handle paperwork improperly—like not transferring property correctly or getting your fair share of retirement savings—you can’t go back and try to resolve things later. In most cases, once the divorce is final, it’s final, unless some sort of fraud or hiding of assets occurred.
Learn more about the perils of DIY divorces here.
One of the best ways how to get a cheap divorce in Texas is to minimize unnecessary work—and billable hours—for your attorney. For example, if you can organize your financial documents so they’re easy to process that will save the law firm time and save you money.
Limiting interactions (phone calls, emails, etc.) with the attorney can also help keep divorce costs down. We encourage clients to keep a running list of questions to discuss on regularly scheduled calls, rather than picking up the phone anytime a question comes up. If an emergency arises, by all means call, but if it can wait, wait.
While many people think they don’t need a lawyer to help with an uncontested divorce in Texas, hiring a reputable divorce attorney to help navigate the divorce process can prevent a lot of headaches. This is especially true when an uncontested divorce becomes contested or any distribution or transfer of property is involved.
In the example above, both parties agreed to get divorced, were aware that a divorce was in process and no community property or children were involved. There are other cases where one party will file for uncontested divorce in Texas, serve the other party with the Petition for Divorce and the responding party then files an answer contesting the divorce. We strongly recommend hiring a divorce attorney in such cases, as the process can quickly turn into a long, drawn-out battle.
When a divorce is contested and no minor children are involved, community property and/or spousal maintenance might be at issue. A divorce attorney can help negotiate a fair financial settlement and also ensure that any ancillary documents are filled out and filed appropriately.
For example, if the parties reach an agreement to share monies in their retirement accounts, a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order) must be filed. According to the Internal Revenue Service, a QDRO is “a judgment, decree or order for a retirement plan to pay child support, alimony or marital property rights to a spouse, former spouse, child or other dependents of a participant.”
Our Fort Worth family lawyers strongly recommend you hire an experienced family law attorney to help facilitate QDROs and other paperwork to transfer ownership of property. An attorney can help ensure you receive your fair share of the property and fill out the paperwork correctly. Paperwork filled out incorrectly could be rejected, or worse, bind you to an agreement you can’t reverse once your divorce is finalized.
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 in Texas 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.
Learn about the costly risks and downsides of hiring a divorce mediator here.
If you are one of those rare couples who agree on everything, have no real property, don’t have kids and won’t need to determine custody or child support, you most likely don’t need an attorney to facilitate the process. An uncontested divorce in Texas will only cost you your time and filing fees. So in that case, yes, you can save money by getting an uncontested divorce.
Couples who decide to hire a Texas mediation attorney or separate divorce attorneys to help with divorce will have to pay attorney’s fees. If you and your spouse agree on most things and a mediation attorney makes sense for you, you can expect to pay about $3,500 or more in shared legal fees, along with court costs.
Learn more about how much it costs to get divorced in Texas here.
If you’re not sure whether your simple divorce would be suitable for a no contest divorce in Texas, and you want to speak with a Fort Worth divorce lawyer, our Tarrant County law firm is here to help. The best way to start is by scheduling a confidential case review with our founder attorney Justin Sisemore.
During the 30-minute consultation, Justin will take a deep dive into your case and explain your options. If he agrees that you qualify for an uncontested divorce in Texas and believes you and your spouse could resolve your case with an objective mediation attorney, he will tell you so.
On the other hand, if Justin thinks your case is too complex—say you have children or issues related to division of property or bankruptcy—he may recommend you and your spouse retain separate divorce lawyers to represent you. Cooperative litigation sometimes works best for couples seeking an amicable divorce when they need multiple issues resolved.
If you live in Tarrant County and would like to speak with an experienced divorce attorney about divorce and child custody, please contact us. We can answer basic questions over the phone or online chat and would be happy to schedule a consultation for you with our founder Justin Sisemore.
Justin and his team of attorneys and support staff have been helping Texas families with their divorce and child custody concerns since 2007 and are here to offer the honest, no-nonsense feedback you deserve. Contact us today!