Sugar Land Uncontested Divorce Attorney
The word divorce conjures up dramatic images of courtroom fights and emotions running high. But divorce isn’t always that way. For many people, divorce—although always emotional—is more a matter of two people agreeing to part ways amicably than it is two people going to battle against each other. If you and your spouse have agreed to end your marriage and you don’t have children or property, speak to an experienced divorce attorney, as you may file for an uncontested divorce.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce, also known as a simplified divorce, is a dissolution of marriage where both individuals agree on the terms. Due to the agreement, you have fewer forms to file and fees to pay, and the process generally goes more quickly than a contested divorce.
That hardly makes an uncontested divorce simple. If less complicated than a contentested divorce, an uncontested divorce is still a complex legal process, as you will see by reading on. It is not worth trying to undergo an uncontested divorce without a lawyer. You want an experienced attorney to help prepare and file the often confusing paperwork and represent you in court to ensure the efficient completion of your uncontested divorce.
An Uncontested Divorce Isn’t Right for Everyone
What is the difference between a contested or an uncontested divorce? If you answer yes to any of these questions, then the uncontested process isn’t right for you.
- Do you own property or retirement benefits that you need to divide?
- Do you have children younger than 18, or 18 and still in high school, and need to determine conservatorship of those children as well as child support?
- Are you or your spouse pregnant, even if the husband is not the father?
- Is there anything that you and your spouse disagree about regarding the divorce?
- Do you or your spouse want alimony?
- Has your spouse behaved violently toward you in the past, or do you fear violence from your spouse during or after the divorce process has taken place?
- Do you or your spouse have a pending or ongoing bankruptcy case?
Criteria for an Uncontested Divorce
The Texas Family Code sets requirements for divorce in the state that include:
- Either the respondent or the petitioner must live in the state for at least six months
- Either the respondent or the petitioner must live in the county where the divorce is filed for at least 90 days
Furthermore, the criteria that make you a good candidate for an uncontested divorce include:
- You and your spouse both want the divorce, and you agree on all issues in your divorce
- You have no children younger than 18 or still in high school
- You and your spouse have no property or retirement benefits to divide
- You and your spouse are not involved in an ongoing bankruptcy case
- Neither you or your spouse are seeking alimony
Process for an Uncontested Divorce
The following are the steps taken in an uncontested divorce:
- Determine that you are eligible to file for divorce in Texas and that you are filing in the appropriate county or district. Note that immigrants, regardless of legal status, may file for divorce as long as they have lived in Texas for at least six months and within the county where they wish to file for at least 90 days. Furthermore, military personnel or their spouses who are currently residing outside of Texas may also file provided at least one spouse’s home state is Texas for at least six months, and the county where they file has been the home county of either spouse for at least 90 days.
- Fill out your Original Petition for Divorce with the help of a lawyer.
- Fill out the Civil Case Information Sheet with the help of a lawyer.
- File your initial forms with the district clerk’s office in the county where your divorce will take place and pay the filing fee, file your forms electronically, or have your attorney file the forms for you. Pay close attention to the case number and court number that you receive when your divorce is filed, and retain copies of all forms you submit, as well as copies for your spouse.
- Have your spouse sign the Waiver of Service form in front of a notary.
- Fill out the Final Decree of Divorce form, or have your attorney fill it out for you. In addition, if you or your spouse want to restore your name to what it was before marriage, you must fill out an additional form for that.
- If you are filling out the Final Decree of Divorce form on your own, hire an attorney to review it for errors or omissions.
- Once you are sure that the Final Decree of Divorce form is complete, have your spouse review it and sign it. Make certain the form is absolutely complete before you have your spouse sign it, because you cannot make changes to the form after it is signed. You will need to sign it as well.
- At least 60 days after your Original Petition for Divorce is filed, you can finish your divorce in court. When figuring your 60 day waiting period, begin counting on the day after your petition is filed and count holidays and weekends. If the 60 days are up on a holiday or a weekend, you must wait until the next business day.
- Call the clerk’s office to find out when the court will hear uncontested cases, or have your attorney do that for you.
- On the day of court, bring copies of your Original Petition for Divorce, the waiver of service that your spouse signed, and the Final Decree of Divorce signed by both your spouse and yourself. Ask your attorney if you need to bring any other documents to court.
- Have the clerk timestamp your spouse’s waiver of service and give the clerk your paperwork.
- In court, the judge may have you give testimony in addition to reviewing your paperwork. If everything is in order, the judge will sign your Final Decree of Divorce.
- To finalize your divorce, you must file the Final Decree of Divorce with the clerk, along with any other orders, once the judge has signed it. Get a certified copy of it for yourself.
- Send a file-stamped copy of the Final Decree of Divorce to your spouse, along with any other orders. If your name is going to change, take a certified copy of the decree to the Social Security Administration to change your Social Security card, your local Department of Public Safety to change your driver’s license, and the County Voter Registrar to change your voter registration card. Determine if you need to change other official documents, like your U.S. passport.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Process
If my spouse and I are in agreement about everything in the divorce, but we have children at home, why aren’t we good candidates for an uncontested divorce?
The court must review the facts and determine what is in the best interest of the child(ren). The uncontested divorce process does not provide for that review.
Do I need an attorney to complete an uncontested divorce?
The law allows you to complete and file the documents for your divorce on your own, but an attorney should at least review the documents before you file them. An attorney will ensure that you complete all necessary steps to the process and that the judge will sign off on the decree.
What if my spouse won’t sign the waiver of service?
If your spouse does not sign the waiver of service, then an official process server, sheriff, or constable will need to serve him or her.
Does my spouse have to be present in court before the judge will sign the Final Decree of Divorce?
No, but he or she has the right to be present. If he or she has signed the Final Decree of Divorce, the court can enter the decree without his or her presence or without notifying him or her about the hearing.
I want my divorce done quickly. Is there any way to skip the 60 day waiting period?
The 60 day waiting period is standard for all Texas divorces. The only way to waive the waiting period is if your spouse was convicted of a crime of family violence against you or a member of your household, or else you have an active order of protection against your spouse for family violence during the 60 day waiting period.
I want to marry my boyfriend/girlfriend as soon as my divorce is final. Can I do that?
Texas requires a 30 day appeal period after the judge signs the Final Decree of Divorce. You must wait until those 30 days have passed before getting married to someone else. The only time the court will waive this waiting period is if you decide to remarry the person you just got divorced from or if the court finds a good cause to waive it, such as the person you wish to marry is in active military service and scheduled to deploy before the 30 day period will pass.
What Could Go Wrong by Doing It Yourself?
You will find many internet pages suggesting that you can do an uncontested divorce yourself, either with or without mediation, and without the assistance of an attorney. If it is just a few forms to fill out and file, why not?
Sometimes even the most seemingly amicable separations result in unexpected issues. According to a report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a family court judge denied allegations that she granted an uncontested divorce in March 2018, despite warnings about the mental health issues that the male spouse was suffering. The man went on to kill his three children and his ex-wife’s new boyfriend two months later. The judge stated that the couple had waived contested divorce hearings in both the Associate Court as well as the District Court, and had signed their own temporary orders and mutual injunctions. The parties had denied any family violence or mental health issues in their mediated settlement agreement, and the only thing a Texas court judge can do in that case, the judge explained, is enter a binding decree based on that mediated settlement.
While this is a rather extreme example of what can go wrong, it does highlight a problem with DIY or mediated uncontested divorces. An experienced attorney knows what questions to ask and the potential red flags that could indicate that the divorce may not happen as simply as the parties believe it will. Furthermore, an attorney will take the time to ensure that you understand completely the documents that you are signing to avoid other problems that may arise, and can advise you and engage in negotiations on your behalf.
Common mistakes made when the decision is made to file an uncontested divorce without the help of an attorney include:
- Being too general about the details that require explicit agreement
- Failing to list any and all assets that require division
- Failing to properly assign responsibility for bills and other payments that the couple acquired in their marriage
- Filing the divorce in the wrong county or district
How Much Will a Lawyer Cost Me?
We understand that you are looking for the most inexpensive route you can find for getting your divorce. However, no responsible attorneys can tell you how much your case will cost unless they meet with you. An initial consultation will give us a better idea of the factors involved, and will help us to determine if an uncontested divorce is the best option for you. At your consultation, we can discuss more fully the process that will take place, and let you know the costs at that time.
In the end, paying an attorney to prepare your divorce, even an uncontested divorce, can help you avoid errors on the complicated paperwork and filing requirements. An attorney can save you time and money, and help you get on with your life much more quickly.
Moreover, in addition to bringing pain and aggravation, the need to revisit a divorce because you later discovered unforseen circumstances the hard way can substantially add to the pricetag of a do-it-yourself divorce. An experienced lawyer knows the expensive pitfalls that can cause divorce agreements to go wrong, help you avoid them, and make sure your divorce remains in your rearview mirror.
Next Step: Call The Vendt Law Firm
Divorce doesn’t have to turn into an ugly or drawn-out situation. With the uncontested divorce process and the help of a knowledgeable attorney, you can finalize your divorce in a matter of months. Frank J. Vendt Jr. brings not only the experience of representing people from all walks of life in their divorces, but also the personal experience of his own divorce. Before you undertake a risky do-it-yourself divorce that may cause problems for you down the road, call us at (832) 276-9474 or contact the Vendt Law Firm online today.