The breaking up of a family unit is often painful and challenging. However, divorce proceedings do not necessarily have to be complicated, lengthy, or involve a lot of time in court. If you and your spouse meet all the requirements for an uncontested divorce and you can agree on all issues, you can potentially avoid the need to have a judge determine your case, which can save you time and money.
Read on to learn more about the conditions which must be met for an uncontested divorce in Texas. Even if you believe that you meet these requirements, discussing your divorce with an experienced family law attorney who can draft official documents and help you in case of any unforeseen difficulties is highly recommended.
What Are the Residency Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce?
To file for any divorce in Texas, you must be a state resident for at least six months before beginning the process. You must also be a resident of the county where you are filing the divorce for at least 90 days.
For those in military families, you may file for a Texas divorce if Texas has been your or your spouse’s home state for at least six months and the county in which you are filing has been your or your spouse’s home county for at least 90 days. If Texas is your home state, but you have been living with your military spouse in another location while they are stationed there, it still counts as time spent in Texas.
Do You Have to Provide a Reason for Your Texas Divorce?
As in all states, you must provide the court with an explanation for why you want a divorce. Depending on their situation, Texas allows individuals to file for either an “at-fault” or “no-fault” divorce.
If you petition the court for a divorce based on the harmful actions of your spouse, it is considered an at-fault divorce because you are placing the blame for the marriage’s failure on your partner. Texas state statutes list six acceptable grounds for an at-fault divorce:
- Conviction of felony
- Living apart
- Confinement in a mental hospital
In most cases, uncontested divorces are no-fault divorces that do not place blame on either party. Instead, a spouse can choose to end their marriage based on the grounds of “insupportability.” This means they are unable to continue the marriage due to incompatibility and do not see any way of reconciling their differences.
Does Your Situation Qualify for Uncontested Divorce Proceedings?
Uncontested divorces can offer couples with simple cases an easy way to dissolve their marriage without heavy involvement from the court. There are typically two situations where an uncontested divorce can occur:
- Both individuals agree on every aspect of the divorce: If you and your spouse can reach an agreement on everything, including child custody, child support, alimony, distribution of shared property and assets, and other applicable decisions, then you can file for an uncontested divorce. Your agreements must be written into a Final Decree of Divorce, both parties sign, and the divorce agreement presented to the court (in most cases) at a short hearing.
- One party does not participate in the divorce proceedings: If your spouse does not respond when served with official divorce papers and does not appear in court, the divorce can be considered uncontested by default because they are not exercising their right to have input on the proceedings.
Remember that if either of you has a disagreement about any part of the divorce that cannot be resolved, the divorce is considered contested, and you must go through the legal process to work out those differences.
Is There a Waiting Period for Texas Divorces?
Once you file your Original Petition of Divorce, you must wait 60 days before finalizing your divorce. You can choose to wait longer than 60 days, but this is the minimum amount of time that must elapse before you can finish the proceedings. This waiting period will be enforced except in some cases where a spouse has been convicted of violence against the other spouse or family member or if there is a protective order against the spouse for violent behavior.
Some other situations may affect your ability to file for divorce. For example, if either party in the marriage is pregnant, the divorce cannot be finished until after the birth of the child. If you are uncertain about the timeline for your divorce, contact a knowledgeable Texas divorce attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.
Do You Need a Lawyer if You Are Planning to Get an Uncontested Divorce?
Hiring a lawyer for an uncontested divorce may seem counterintuitive, but it can actually be in your best interests. Even if you and your spouse can agree on all the details of your divorce, you still have to draft that information into an official document and present it to the court. Most people do not have experience writing these documents (which can easily end up being dozens of pages in length), and it can be easy to forget important information.
There’s also the possibility that you may run into disagreements with your spouse about aspects of the divorce, such as child custody or splitting assets. Discussions can become heated in this emotional situation. A skilled Texas divorce lawyer can help you work through these issues to reach an amicable solution and finalize your divorce as quickly as possible, so you can move on with your life.