The decision to get a divorce signals the end of one part of your life and the beginning of another. Unlike other relationships, marriage has a legal element that you’ll need to untangle. The court system appears complicated and overwhelming to many people. One of the major hurdles facing divorcing couples is the high cost of hiring an attorney. Fortunately, you are not required to have an attorney to get a divorce. You can file a do it yourself divorce in Texas. The courts aren’t too difficult to navigate if you follow a few basic steps. To get an uncontested divorce in Texas there are four things you’ll need to keep in mind — qualifying, agreement, paperwork and going to court.
In order to qualify for divorce in Texas, you must meet a few simple criteria.
First, you or your spouse must live in Texas for the previous six months. You’ll also need to live in the county that you file for 90 days. After that, you will need to have “grounds” or a legal reason to divorce.
The possibilities in Texas include:
- Insupportability: Many people refer to this as “no-fault” grounds for divorce because it means that you spouse just can’t resolve your differences. In terms of an uncontested divorce, this reason is by far the simplest route.
- Cruelty: Whether mental or physical, asking for a divorce because of cruelty is a “fault” divorce and may require multiple hearings.
- Incarceration: If your spouse has committed a felony and is serving a sentence of one year or longer, Texas recognizes this as reasonable grounds. The one exception, however, is if spousal testimony caused the imprisonment.
- Estrangement: If you have been living apart and separate lives for three or more years, or if your spouse abandoned you more than one year ago, the court accepts this as grounds.
There are several other things that can give you grounds for divorce that include mental illness and confinement as well as adultery. But for the purposes of getting an uncontested divorce, taking the no-fault route will keep you on the fast-track.
You often hear lawyers say they “agreed to disagree.” That’s legal jargon for understanding you can’t make the marriage work. In your case, you’ll need to agree on how to divide marital assets and any child care issues in order to be granted an uncontested divorce.
Texas is a community property state, which means marital assets are generally distributed evenly. Those things only include what you built up together while married. And, gifts and inheritances don’t count as marital assets. If you can put together an agreeable settlement list, you should be able to steer the uncontested divorce path. The same holds true for child care, support and visitation.
You don’t have to be 100 percent in agreement to file. There will be a 60-day window before a judge reviews the paperwork. However, you will need to be 100 percent on your day in court.
Filling out the divorce documents doesn’t require a trek to the courthouse or rifling through a legal dictionary. All of the forms are available in this do it yourself guide with step-by-step instructions that will answer your questions.
In an uncontested divorce, you can have your spouse sign a “Waiver of Citation,” which assures the court that they are in agreement and understand the process is moving forward. This will help you avoid the stressful and costly process of them being served by a Sheriff. You want to keep things simple and as friendly as possible.
Going to Court
After the paperwork is complete and filed, there is a 60-day waiting (cooling off) period. In court, a judge will review your petition and other pleadings. If there are no objections or disputes, you’ll be granted a final divorce decree.
However, if you are not in 100 percent agreement, the petition could be rejected until the issues are resolved or brought to a formal hearing. If you want to complete this do it yourself divorce journey painlessly and without costly attorney fees, it’s important to agree about your disagreement. For more information on how to file this type of divorce yourself, visit DIY Texas Divorce for all the resources you need to move forward and file your divorce without a lawyer.