Perhaps you are considering a do-it-yourself divorce, but are intimidated by the legal process. Put aside your fears. Like most things, doing your own uncontested divorce is difficult if you don’t know the ropes, but is surprisingly easy if you do. What is an uncontested divorce? Your divorce case is uncontested if you both agree on all of the issues, or if, after receiving proper legal notice, your spouse does not file a response or otherwise appear in the case. If you have an uncontested divorce, the legal process is simpler than that of a contested divorce. Here is a general overview of the procedure:
When learning about divorce procedures, you may run across some unfamiliar terms. The spouse who files for divorce is the Petitioner and the other spouse is called the Respondent. Also, you should be aware of the basic residency requirements. In order to file for divorce in Texas, you and/or your spouse must have lived in Texas for at least six months prior to filing and you must file in the county in which either you or your spouse have lived for at least ninety days.
Begin your divorce proceeding by preparing your Petition for Divorce and filing it with the District Clerk’s office. Take two extra copies of the Petition and the filing fee. The clerk will assign a case number, date stamp and file the original and also stamp the copies. Then you must give your spouse proper legal notice of the divorce. There are several ways to do this — by using a process server, having your spouse sign a Waiver of Citation or by publication or posting. A Citation is formal notice that a petition for divorce has been filed.
Once the Petition for Divorce has been filed and your spouse has been notified, you wait. There is a mandatory sixty day waiting period after your Petition is filed. If there are any unresolved issues between you and your spouse, this is the time to reach an agreement. You and your spouse will need to come to an agreement on issues such as child custody, child support, debt and property division before finalizing the divorce.
Finalizing the divorce
If you and your spouse have reached an agreement on all the issues, you can prepare your Final Decree of Divorce, which both of you will sign. Then schedule the divorce for a final hearing on the uncontested court docket. At the hearing, sometimes called a prove-up, you will finish your divorce before a judge. The divorce is officially final on the day of the hearing, when the judge grants the decree of divorce.
Keep your documents together and organized. Mail any important documents by certified mail and request a return receipt. Always keep a copy of every document for yourself. When your divorce is finalized, ask for at least one certified copy of the order. In some counties this is free on the day of your final hearing, but after that there may be a fee. You may need a certified copy for property transfers, or name changes.
Presenting the court with the correct forms, properly prepared, can help ensure a smooth final hearing. If you are considering a do-it-yourself divorce, information and resources are available at DIY Texas Divorce. This may be your first time dealing with the legal system, but remember, you are not alone and you do not need legal training. We are here for you and will provide you with clear, detailed video instructions as well as the necessary Texas approved legal forms. Everything you need is here, waiting for you.