Uncontested Divorce in Texas
Although the divorce process varies from state to state, all cases can be broken into two types: contested and uncontested divorce.
- A contested divorce happens when the spouses cannot agree on some matter within the divorce case. So the decisions have to be ordered through a court hearing. These disputes commonly involve grounds for divorce, child-related issues, marital property, spousal support, etc.
- An uncontested divorce means that the parties negotiate to divide their property and resolve child custody, visitation, child support, and other issues out of court. The spouses draw up and file a marital settlement agreement to memorialize any agreements reached between them.
An uncontested divorce typically takes less time than a contested one and allows saving money. In particular, when the spouses agree on the terms of their divorce, they have an opportunity to use various alternative dispute resolution methods, online divorce, and other options to arrange a low-cost divorce.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
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For as little as $139, our online divorce service allows its customers to download blank forms and obtain all the completed divorce papers they need in only two business days.
Using our simple self-guided online questionnaires, you can outline the circumstances of your case so that the system can help you select the relevant Texas divorce forms and fill them out correctly according to Texas law.
DivorceOnline allows you to avoid case delays caused by carrying incorrect divorce paperwork. The main advantage of DivorceOnline.com, along with its affordable cost and fast process, is that you can work with your online divorce forms at your own pace whenever and wherever is comfortable for you, without depending on an attorney. Besides, we will provide you with the necessary filing instructions which are relevant to your local court.
DivorceOnline is an excellent alternative to lawyers in an uncontested case when your main issue is divorce paperwork.
Steps for Filing a Divorce in Texas
An uncontested divorce process in Texas follows several steps.
First of all, any couple must meet residency requirements to file for divorce in Texas. According to the Texas Family Code, either spouse must have lived in the state for six months before filing the Original Petition for Divorce and be a resident of the county in which they file for divorce for at least 90 days.
Texas Family Code provides for both fault and no-fault divorce.
The ground acceptable for a no-fault divorce is "Insupportability," meaning that the marriage has become insupportable because the spouses have disagreements they cannot resolve, and there is no chance for reconciliation. In other words, there is no need to prove any fault or blame for the marriage breakdown.
Fault divorce in Texas means that the judge grants divorce in favor of either party, given that the plaintiff can prove the chosen ground for divorce in court.
Fault-based grounds for divorce include:
- Cruelty or violence
- Abandonment for at least one year
- Confinement in a mental hospital for at least three years
- Felony criminal conviction or imprisonment for at least one year (unless spouse testifies against convicted spouse)
Besides, the court can grant a divorce in favor of either party if the spouses have lived apart for at least three years.
In Texas, divorce cases are typically heard by District Court. So, to file for divorce in Texas, the plaintiff (spouse initiating the case) must file the completed divorce forms with the District Court Clerk.
Divorce Papers in Texas
Texas court forms that must be filed to get the uncontested divorce process rolling include:
- Original Petition for Divorce (includes Summons)
- Waiver of Service
- Final Decree of Divorce
- Notice of Final Decree
Other divorce forms and worksheets that may be required in different circumstances (for example, in divorce cases with minor children involved) include but are not limited to Civil Case Information Sheet, Child Support Order, Standard Possession Order form, Income Withholding Order for Child Support, Employer's Order to Withhold Earning for Spousal Support, etc.
Filing fees are paid when the plaintiff submits the divorce petition with the court. In a Texas divorce, the court filing fee is about $300. However, this amount can vary slightly from county to county and depending on whether the spouses have minor children. You can contact your local courthouse to determine the exact amount for your case. Litigants who cannot afford filing fees may ask the court for a fee waiver.
Following the Family Code, the Texas divorce timeline implies a mandatory waiting period. Thus, a final divorce decree cannot be granted before the 60th day after you file divorce papers with the court, regardless of whether it is an uncontested or contested divorce.
The only exception is divorce cases involving family violence.
Service of process means that the plaintiff serves the other spouse (commonly referred to as defendant or respondent) with a copy of the divorce petition.
Following the Texas Rule of Civil Procedure, the service of process can be accomplished in person or via certified mail by a constable, sheriff, or other person authorized by law.
The server will deliver the initial divorce forms to the respondent, complete a Return of Service form, and file the completed Return of Service with the court as an acknowledgment of service.
Please note: the copy cannot be delivered personally by the plaintiff. Additionally, the respondent does not need to be served with the initial divorce forms if they sign a Respondent’s Original Answer form or a Waiver of Service Only form.
Once the waiting period expires and all the papers needed in a particular divorce case are filed with the court, a final hearing can be scheduled.
In an uncontested divorce in Texas, it is called a "Prove Up." Prove up is typically a brief and formal court hearing where each spouse presents their testimony for the uncontested divorce.
If the divorcing spouses have agreed upon all the terms of their divorce and the court finds these arrangements fair, the judge signs the Decree of Divorce, a final court order granting a dissolution of a marriage.
Getting a Divorce With Children
There are two types of child custody in Texas: managing conservatorship and possessory conservatorship commonly referred to as legal and physical custody in other states.
Usually, both legal and physical custody can be either sole or joint. However, in Texas, joint custody is favored by the court system. This would mean that both parents shall be appointed as joint managing conservators, and the child is entitled to maintain contact with both parents (unless proven that it may harm the child). The reasons that indicate such harm and danger and allow the court to assign sole custody to one parent despite the above presumption include but are not limited to:
- one of the spouses willfully neglects parental duties;
- any history of domestic violence and abuse;
- one of the spouses abuses drugs or alcohol;
- one of the spouses is incarcerated;
- one of the spouses willfully abandoned their child and failed to maintain contact with them;
- one of the spouses exhibits irrational and unpredictable behavior (mental illness).
Thus, in most cases, both former spouses share parental rights and liabilities, even though their shares may vary, or any of them have the exclusive authority to make certain decisions
The divorcing parents can come up with a mutual child custody agreement out of court (on their own, through mediation, etc.), or if they fail to agree, the court can decide for them, following the child's best interest. Anyway, both spouses may be ordered to attend a parenting class, and also they may need to file some additional forms and documents:
- Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support
- Standard Possession Order
- Possession Order for Children Under Three Years
- Property Owned by Children
- Health Insurance Order for Children
- Child Support Order
As for child support, Texas provides state-mandated guidelines. An amount of child support is calculated based on the payer's income. Deviation from these guidelines is allowed when agreed upon by both parents and deemed to be in the child's best interests.
Filing for Divorce in Texas Without a Lawyer
- Texas law allows people to represent themselves in divorce cases and promote their interests without a lawyer. Even if the spouses have some disputed issues, they still can use alternative dispute resolution methods instead if they want to.
- The filing process and the main divorce stages are the same for couples seeking legal advice and hiring an attorney and those arranging a do-it-yourself divorce.
- The only difference is that self-represented litigants are fully responsible for the process. Thus, they should know family law requirements, court rules, and their particular legal rights to arrange the divorce without problems and delays.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Texas
- A DIY divorce can be a beneficial solution for simple uncontested divorce cases. However, since divorce paperwork can be complicated for people without relevant experience in the legal field, some assistance can still be needed.
- DivorceOnline.com offers a quick and cheap online divorce in Texas. With the help of this online divorce assistance service, you can obtain the completed forms in only two business days.
- Preparing for divorce online will save you time, money and spare your nerves. The online divorce papers we provide are filled out and ready to be printed and signed. Besides, you will get written instructions on how to file them with the court without a hassle.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Due to the mandatory waiting period, neither divorce can be finalized before the 60th day after the date of filing the petition unless the case involves family violence issues.
However, there are a lot of additional factors that can affect the length of the divorce process.
Generally, a contested divorce takes much longer than an uncontested one. However, even in an uncontested case, it all depends on how quickly the spouses manage to draw up their settlement agreement and prepare all the necessary divorce documents.
The cost of a divorce depends on multiple factors. Foremost, each divorce case starts with paying court fees mandatory for all plaintiffs except those qualified for a fee waiver due to their low income.
Other expenses, such as attorney' fees, mediation, parenting classes, online divorce fees, etc., may also significantly affect the total amount. However, the average cost of a peaceful divorce is still much lower than lawyers' fees arising out of litigation ($2,500-$5,000 and $15,000-$25,000 respectively).
Filing for divorce for free is available only for plaintiffs eligible to waive court filing fees due to financial hardship (they must complete an Affidavit of Inability to Pay Court Costs).
In all other cases, court fees are mandatory. However, the additional divorce costs can vary greatly depending on the case circumstances and the spouses' preferences.
Texas divorce forms required to be filed include but are not limited to Original Petition for Divorce, Waiver of Service, Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support, Employer's Order to Withhold Earning for Spousal Support, Final Decree of Divorce, and Notice of Final Decree.
The list of divorce forms and exhibits may vary widely depending on the type of divorce and attendant circumstances.