Simplified Uncontested Divorce in Texas

Uncontested Divorce in Texas

How to get a quick divorce in TX

For couples seeking a Texas quickie 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.

People interested in uncontested divorce in Texas, often have frequently asked questions (FAQS)about the topic. We will answer those questions at length in this article but you will find some short answers here. FAQs include:

  • Do I have to go to court for uncontested divorce Texas? Short answer: While you have to file with the Court to open the case and to finalize, it is possible to never set foot inside a courtroom in an uncontested divorce
  • Can you get a divorce in Texas without going to court? Short answer: While you have to file with the Court to open the case and to finalize, it is possible to never set foot inside a courtroom in an uncontested divorce.
  • How long does it take to get an uncontested divorce in Texas? Short answer: If you meet the criteria for quick divorces in Texas it will take a minimum of 60 days to get an uncontested divorce due to Texas’ mandatory 60-day waiting period—but other conditions and circumstances may prolong this time period.
  • Do I need a lawyer for uncontested divorce in Texas? Short answer: Technically, no but we strongly advise against it, especially when any assets or debts are involved.
  • How much does an uncontested divorce in Texas cost? Short answer: If you hire an attorney, you can typically expect to pay a minimum of $4,500 in attorney fees plus additional monies for filing fees and court fees. If you plan to represent yourself, filing fees could run around $500 per person.
  • Can you explain how to file for divorce in Texas with no money? Short answer: The Texas State Law Library has several resources for getting divorced with a low income.

We provide additional details on these FAQs in the article below. You can also  contact the Sisemore Law Firm in Fort Worth at (817) 336-4444 to schedule a confidential case review to discuss options pertinent to your case.

What DOES qualify as an uncontested divorce in Texas?

The true uncontested divorce cases we see most often are typically those where the party comes in and says, “Hey, we’ve sold the house and divided the proceeds. I’m keeping my retirement, and she’s keeping hers. I’m keeping my bank account, and she’s keeping hers. Just draft it up.” And that’s it. These are cases where all issues of property have been resolved, children are not involved, and you basically agree on everything (which rarely happens).

Why are uncontested divorces so uncommon?

The reality is unforeseen issues regularly arise in most divorce cases. For example, the parties may believe they’ve worked everything out only to discover that all assets weren’t accounted for. In addition, child custody complicates divorce. There are also essential steps to take in the divorce process, paperwork to file and points of law that need to be addressed in accordance with the Texas family code.

Divorce doesn’t need to be super complicated or contentious but you should take a careful inventory of all of your assets and make sure to dot all of your “I”s and cross all of your “T”s before signing your divorce decree. An experienced and reputable family law attorney can help simplify the process.

How to get a 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, only a few couples meet those requirements, meaning most couples have at least some disagreements during their divorce process. However, if you do qualify, the process for an uncontested, agreed or no contest divorce 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):

  1. 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.
  2. Pay required filing fees, which range from $150-300, depending on the county where the Petition for Divorce is filed.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. After a mandatory 60-day waiting period, some courts require one or both parties to appear in court in front of the presiding judge to finalize the divorce.  The vast majority of courts allow for parties to simply e-file their proposed Agreed Final Decree for signature and entry, meaning neither party has to physically go to Court. The judge will review all documents pertaining to the case, including the documents noted above and question the party or parties if necessary. (NOTE: Victims of family violence may be able to sidestep the waiting period with a Texas divorce 60-day waiver.)
  6. If the judge approves the divorce, he or she will sign the Final Decree of Divorce, which finalizes the divorce, and a form will need to be filled out and dropped off with the district court clerks to notify the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics that a couple is no longer married.

So, if you are someone who wants to know, can you get a divorce in Texas without going to court? you now know that the answer is “maybe.” That’s because there is a chance that either you or your spouse will need to appear in court before a judge to finalize your uncontested divorce as noted in step 5, above.

For those of you wondering, “How long does it take to get an uncontested divorce in Texas?” OR “Can I get a fast divorce in Texas?” you now know that it will take a minimum of 60 days to get an uncontested divorce due to the state’s mandatory 60-day waiting period (step 5, above.) Keep in mind, unless you qualify for a family violence exemption, 60 days is the minimum because you do need to meet residency requirements and your attorney may need more time to prepare and file the necessary paperwork. You will also be at the mercy of the court and its schedule, which may push how long it takes to get an uncontested divorce beyond the 60 days.

Is a Texas no fault divorce the same as an uncontested divorce in Texas?

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.

Nine reasons you shouldn’t file for uncontested divorce in Texas 

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:

  1. The spouses disagree about any issue related to the divorce.
  2. One of the spouses wants to file specific grounds for divorce, like cruelty or adultery.
  3. The wife is pregnant, even if the husband isn’t the father.
  4. The wife gave birth to a child by another man during the marriage.
  5. The couple has a child who is disabled (regardless of the child’s age).
  6. The couple shares a biological or adopted child who is either under 18 years of age or 18 years old and still attending high school.
  7. One of the spouses is requesting contractual alimony (which is rare in Texas) or spousal maintenance
  8. One of the spouses owns or plans to buy real property, such as a home, building, business, piece of land or other real estate.
  9. One of the spouses has an ongoing bankruptcy case.

A number of these issues pertain to children, assets and debts, which frequently complicate divorce. Figuring out child custodyvisitation 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.

Wondering how to get a cheap divorce in Texas whether your divorce is contested or not?

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.

Now, if you’re someone who is trying to keep divorce costs low or looking for the cheapest way to divorce, you may also be curious about one of the FAQs we referred to at the beginning of this article: Do I need a lawyer for uncontested divorce in Texas?  Well, you are not required to have a lawyer in order to file for divorce in Texas. However, 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.

Now, if you are financially destitute and want to know how to file for divorce in Texas with no money, you may have options. For one, you can ask the court to waive the court fees by filing an Affidavit of Inability to Pay Court Costs.  You could also ask the judge to issue temporary orders requiring your spouse to pay child support and/or spousal support while you wait for the divorce to be finalized.

Again, we highly recommend you enlist the help of a family law attorney to assist you when making these requests. If money truly is an issue for you, you will find a number of helpful resources on The Texas State Law Library website, including information on financial resources and other tips for getting divorced with a low income.

When an uncontested divorce gets complicated, hire a divorce attorney

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.

There are cases where both parties agree to get divorced, know that a divorce is in process and no community property or children are involved so the divorce remains uncontested. However, 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.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to handle a divorce on their own is finalizing their divorce decree and failing to prepare the ancillary closing documents related to the divorce. It’s very challenging to go back years later and do a QDRO, locate the other party, track down the retirement plans and other important documents. It’s not just the divorce decree itself that family law attorneys handle. It’s other documents—especially those that effectuate the transfer of property—that often get left out when people try to get divorced without an attorney.

Read about the Retirement Asset Division In Fort Worth

When to hire a Texas mediation lawyer to help with an uncontested divorce in Texas

If you and your spouse are hoping for a mutual divorce in Texas, 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 certified mediator can simplify and even expedite the process.

For example, consider the case of an uncontested divorce in Texas with a child: 

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. An attorney turned mediator, 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 family law, namely 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.

Can I save money by getting an uncontested divorce in Texas?

And how much does an uncontested divorce in Texas cost? 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 $4,500 or more in shared legal fees, along with court costs.

Learn more about how much it costs to get divorced in Texas here.

How can the Sisemore Law Firm help with my uncontested divorce?

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. Collaborative litigation sometimes works best for couples seeking an amicable divorce Texas when they need multiple issues resolved.

Find out what you can expect during a case review with the Sisemore Law Firm here.

Contact the Sisemore Law Firm to learn more about uncontested divorce in Texas

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 providing amicable divorce services and 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!