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Do all your exes live in Texas?
Well, if you need to learn about Texas divorce laws, you will be glad to know that an uncontested divorce in Texas is the quickest and cheapest way to end a valid marriage. (Annulments are reserved for invalid marriages.)
Unfortunately, uncontested divorces require you and your spouse to agree on absolutely everything concerning the divorce—once you’ve crossed that hurdle, though, the process is fairly simple. We’ll tell you how it works, so read on.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
Simply put, an uncontested divorce is a legal process ending a marriage relationship—a divorce—with no disagreement between the two parties on any issues in the divorce. Everything about it must be agreed to, otherwise it’s contested.
This doesn’t mean that you and your spouse have to agree on every single thing, just that you have to be able to agree to everything required to get a divorce without a trial. The main things you have to agree on are the reason for the divorce, how to divide up property, spousal support and how to handle child custody. Child support is not something you have to agree on because, once you decide how custody will work, the state has laws that tell you how much child support is required.
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Texas Uncontested Divorce Requirements
Of course, before you can try to agree on everything in your divorce, you have to find out if you can file for divorce in Texas. If you meet the residency requirements, you can file for divorce. Whether it will be uncontested or not depends largely on you and your soon-to-be-ex.
Texas Residency Requirement
In order to file for divorce in Texas, either you or your spouse must have lived in Texas for at least six months before filing. One of you will also have to have lived in the county where you’ll file for at least 90 days.
No Contested Issues
Once you know where to file—reach out to the county clerk of courts for the county where you intend to file if you don’t know the exact place to file—you have to agree with your spouse on every issue relevant to your divorce.
If you or your spouse wants to file a “fault-based” ground for divorce, it’s unlikely that an uncontested divorce is possible. By claiming the grounds for divorce are fault-based, one spouse is telling the court that the marriage is ending because of the other spouse’s misconduct (unless you use the grounds of separation and have lived apart for at least three years).
Naturally, blaming the other spouse for the marriage falling apart is likely to be challenged and lead to disagreement—which means there’s going to be something “contested” and an uncontested divorce is off the table.
If neither spouse is assigning blame, the no-fault ground for divorce in Texas is that the marriage has become insupportable. If one spouse seeks a divorce based on these grounds, the divorce will be granted whether or not the other agrees.
Not only do you have to agree on the reason for the divorce, but you’ll need to agree on:
- The division of assets and debts acquired during the marriage
- The custody and visitation schedule for any children you have
- If spousal support, often called alimony, is appropriate and what the terms will be
If you and your spouse can work all that out together, then you can get an uncontested divorce. Here’s how.
How to Get an Uncontested Texas Divorce
Prepare your Uncontested Divorce Forms
Once you know where to file, you’ll need to put together a number of documents. If you reach out to the county clerk of court, they may be able to provide you with guidance as to what forms are necessary in your specific circumstances.
You can also find help on the Texas Law Help website. Generally, there will be forms that must be filled out if you and your spouse have any minor children and if you and your spouse own any real property.
No matter where you’re filing or what your situation, you need to file an Original Petition for Divorce to begin your case. If your spouse is working with you to expedite the process, you may also want to have them sign a Waiver of Service Only.
Make two copies of all your required documents before you go to file.
File for an Uncontested Divorce
Unless you’re filing online, you’ll need to deliver your copies to the clerk of court’s office where you’re filing for divorce. If you and your spouse are cooperating, your spouse can file the Waiver of Service Only after you’ve filed the petition. They can also sign and file a Final Decree of Divorce, which will effectively signal that the divorce is uncontested.
What Happens After you File for an Uncontested Divorce
After you file for divorce, there is a mandatory 60-day waiting period before the final hearing can be scheduled. The final hearing will involve the judge reviewing the submitted documents to make sure everything has been done properly—these hearings are often very short.
After the hearing the judge will sign the Final Divorce Decree and it will be recorded with the clerk.
If you file and your spouse does not cooperate, however, they have until the Monday after the 20th day you filed the papers to answer the petition for divorce and can contest anything in your initial filing they disagree with. This, of course, changes your uncontested Texas divorce to a contested divorce.
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Other Kinds of Texas Divorce
If you want an uncontested divorce and your spouse is unwilling to agree, you will have either a contested divorce or a default divorce.
A contested divorce is simply one where you and your spouse can’t agree on everything. A judge may order mediation and, in the end, may decide the issues for you in such a case if you can’t reach an agreement.
A default divorce is only available if your spouse never responds to the initial filing or stops responding for an extended period of time. If your spouse simply never responds—and they have been served properly or you’ve done everything required to attempt to serve them—you can request a default judgment.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Uncontested Divorce in Texas
How long does an uncontested divorce in Texas take?
Texas law requires a 60-day waiting period after you file your petition for divorce. After that, you need to schedule a final hearing where a judge reviews and signs your divorce decree. Scheduling this final hearing depends on the county you’ve filed in and on the schedule of the court, yourself and your spouse.
If the hearing can be scheduled promptly and all your paperwork is done correctly, you could be divorced in as few as two to three months. Most uncontested divorces shouldn’t take more than six months, however, no matter how busy the court or the divorcing couple is.
How much does it cost to get an uncontested divorce?
The cost of an uncontested divorce is basically just the cost to file the required paperwork and any court costs. These costs will vary from county to county, but shouldn’t be more than about $350.
There may be additional charges for filing online or for having your spouse served, too. Even with these costs, however, the expense of an uncontested divorce is substantially less than hiring an attorney to represent you through a contentious divorce process.
Does Texas require separation before divorce?
No. There is no requirement for the couple to live apart for any length of time before filing for divorce in Texas. As long as the residency requirements discussed above are met, you can file for divorce while living with your spouse. You could even remain living with them throughout the divorce process and after.
Can I date during my uncontested divorce case in Texas?
Texas does have fault-based grounds for divorce, and one of those is adultery. If you and your spouse are cooperating and filed an uncontested divorce with the no-fault ground cited, you may not have much to worry about. However, until your divorce is final, you are still married. Any dating could be considered adultery by your spouse and, worse, by the court.
So it is best to play it safe and avoid dating until your divorce is final. If you’ve followed our guide and are getting an uncontested Texas divorce, you may only have to wait a few months.