Every divorce case is unique. However, divorce cases in Texas can be categorized into two types: contested and uncontested ones. As its name implies, uncontested divorce is possible when the spouses are able to resolve their issues outside of court.
However, when a divorce case requires court intervention, the divorcing spouses will need to pursue a contested divorce. Either way, you might want to speak with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer in Texas to help you handle your divorce case in the most efficient manner possible.
At the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our skilled and dedicated family law attorney can help you navigate the divorce process and understand whether or not uncontested divorce is the right option in your particular situation.
Call (254) 220-4225 or fill this contact form to schedule a free case evaluation with our divorce attorney in Texas.
What Is Contested and Uncontested Divorce in Texas?
Before you decide to pursue contested or uncontested divorce, it is essential to understand the difference between the two types of divorce in Texas.
As its name implies, contested divorce means that the spouses have certain contested issues. In other words, if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on all issues in your divorce case, you will have to file for a contested divorce.
It is difficult to agree with your spouse on all issues related to your divorce. Often, divorcing couples disagree about child custody, visitation, support, property division, spousal maintenance, and other aspects of divorce.
Contested divorces can be broken down into two subtypes:
Those that are still resolved outside of court. Some contested divorces can be resolved without going to trial. Even if there are certain contested issues in your divorce case, you may still be able to resolve them through mediation or negotiation without having to ask a judge to decide the contested issues for you.
Those that require a trial. Not all contested divorce can be resolved quickly and without the court’s involvement. If you and your spouse are unable to reach a mutually acceptable agreement through negotiations or mediation, your case will proceed to trial to finalize your divorce case.
A contested divorce can be more expensive and stressful than an uncontested divorce because the divorcing spouses will have to take their case to court.
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses can retain control over the divorce proceedings instead of letting a judge decide anything for them. An uncontested divorce is only possible if the spouses reach an agreement on all issues, ranging from child-related issues (custody, support, and visitation) to property division and alimony).
In some cases, spouses seeking an uncontested divorce may need the legal counsel of an experienced attorney to help them agree on all terms of their divorce. A skilled lawyer can help facilitate negotiations between the spouses to help them reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
Even if your divorce involves a number of contested issues, your lawyer could help you resolve your disagreements to turn your divorce case into an uncontested one and finalize your divorce quickly and for a lower cost.
What’s the Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce in Texas?
When Can You File for Uncontested Divorce in Texas?
In Texas, spouses can file for an uncontested divorce when their case meets the following requirements:
The spouses agree on the ground for ending their marriage
Neither party is seeking a fault-based divorce (fault grounds for divorce are outlined in Chapter 6 of the Texas Family Code)
Neither party has a pending bankruptcy case
Both spouses agree on the division of property and debt
Spouses are able to resolve all of their issues by agreement
Typically, uncontested divorces involve less stress and emotional trauma, cost less, and are finalized faster than contested ones. Many Texans mistakenly believe that they cannot file for an uncontested divorce if they have minor children.
However, Texas law allows spouses who share children under the age of 18 to pursue uncontested divorce as long as the parties agree on all issues related to child support, custody, visitation, and others.
Do You Still Need to Go to Court for Uncontested Divorce?
In Texas, uncontested divorces are resolved quickly because the parties do not have to resolve their disputed issues in the courtroom. Contested divorces, on the other hand, require court intervention, which makes them more time-consuming and costlier.
When you file for a contested divorce, anything you cannot agree upon outside of the courtroom will be decided by the judge assigned to your case. Often, it is not possible to predict the outcome of a contested divorce case because you are placing your future and everything that is important to you into the hands of the judge.
But are all uncontested divorces resolved out of court? Generally, yes. However, in limited cases, a divorce that started out as uncontested may turn into a contested divorce if any disagreement arises during the divorce proceedings.
However, at least one spouse may still have to appear in front of the judge before an uncontested divorce is finalized in Texas. In uncontested divorces, appearing in front of the judge and answering their questions is merely a formality. The judge will usually grant the uncontested divorce if the parties understand the terms and consequences of their divorce agreement.
If the judge has any reason to believe that the parties entered into the agreement against their will or under duress or fraud, they may request a formal trial even if the divorce case is uncontested.
Under Texas Family Code § 6.702, there is a mandatory waiting period for all divorces, both contested and uncontested. The divorcing spouses must wait at least 60 days before they can finalize their divorce.
Are Uncontested Divorces Always Cheaper Than Contested Ones?
In most cases, an uncontested divorce will be substantially cheaper than a contested divorce. However, there may be exceptions to the general rule. Even though an uncontested divorce may be less costly than a contested divorce, you will still have to pay filing fees and other court costs.
Check with the clerk of court in the county where you will be filing for an uncontested divorce to learn about the divorce filing fees. If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you might be eligible to file a petition to waive filing fees and certain other court costs.
Consider speaking with your attorney to find out if you qualify to get the filing fees waived in your divorce case.
How Can You Make Your Uncontested Divorce Less Expensive and Complicated?
Regardless of whether you pursue a contested or an uncontested divorce, the process will be less complicated if it involves no minor children and little to no marital property to divide. If you and your spouse do not share minor children, you will not have to reach an agreement regarding child support, custody, and visitation, among other things.
Division of property and debt often becomes a point of contention between the spouses. However, in order to make your divorce less expensive and less complicated, you and your spouse will need to reach a consensus regarding property and debt division.
If you need assistance with negotiating a divorce settlement with your spouse, consider contacting a skilled lawyer to protect your interests and reach a mutually acceptable agreement to make your divorce smooth and less costly. Your divorce will also handle the paperwork in your uncontested divorce case and provide legal advice throughout the process.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Uncontested Divorce?
There are several advantages and disadvantages of uncontested divorce to consider before filing a petition for divorce. Filing for uncontested divorce can be beneficial for three reasons:
Save time. The uncontested divorce process is less time-consuming than that in a contested divorce. Although Texas law requires you to wait 60 days before your divorce can be finalized, uncontested divorce allows you to save significant time because you do not need to spend countless hours in the courtroom.
Save money. When you file for an uncontested divorce, you can save tons of money on court costs, legal fees, and attorney’s fees.
Less stress and emotional trauma. Since you can avoid a full-blown court battle, an uncontested divorce will reduce the stress and ease the heartache associated with the divorce proceedings. Instead of fighting out your divorce case in the courtroom, you can resolve your divorce case quietly, privately, and with the least amount of stress.
Unfortunately, uncontested divorce is not for everyone. For some divorcing spouses, litigation may be the only option to finalize their divorce. Filing for contested divorce may be necessary if any of the following is true:
Your marriage involves a history of domestic violence. A victim of domestic violence may not be able to come to an agreement with their abuser. Besides, trying to negotiate with the abuser privately could put the victim at risk of further abuse.
You and your spouse do not see eye to eye. When spouses are not able to communicate without engaging in an angry and destructive battle, litigation may be their only option to finalize the divorce.
Your divorce involves complex issues. When a divorce case involves complex issues, spouses may not be able to reach an agreement without litigation.
If you are not sure whether you should pursue a contested or uncontested divorce, consider speaking with a knowledgeable lawyer to review your unique situation and understand your best course of action.
The Process of Filing for Uncontested Divorce in Texas
Under Texas Family Code § 6.301, divorcing spouses must reside in Texas for six months or longer prior to filing for divorce. The residency requirement for divorce also requires the spouse who files for divorce to live in the county where the petition is filed for at least 90 days.
Here is how the process of filing for uncontested divorce works in Texas:
You file an Original Petition for Divorce to notify the court and your spouse that you wish to begin the dissolution of your marriage. The clerk of the court will also require you to prepare and submit a Civil Case Information Sheet along with your divorce petition.
When filing the divorce petition, you are also required to pay filing fees. In Texas, divorce filing fees range from $150 to $300, depending on the county.
The other spouse signs a Waiver of Service to waive service in your uncontested divorce case. The waiver states that the responding spouse does not wish to be served with divorce papers. The responding spouse must file the waiver within 24 hours after the divorce petition is filed.
You and your spouse prepare and sign a Final Decree of Divorce, in which you outline everything you and your spouse have agreed upon, including the division of property and debt and other details.
Once the mandatory waiting period has passed (60 days), one of the spouses must appear in front of the judge to finalize the uncontested divorce. The judge will review the Final Decree of Divorce and may ask certain questions before signing the decree.
The judge signs the Final Decree of Divorce. This means that your divorce is finalized.
While the process of filing for an uncontested divorce might seem straightforward, you may encounter certain challenges during the process. For this reason, you might want to seek legal counsel from a knowledgeable divorce attorney in Texas to guide you through the process.
Speak with an Uncontested Divorce Attorney in Texas
Seeking uncontested divorce offers a wide range of benefits. Filing for uncontested divorce allows the divorcing couple to save significant time and money and minimize the stress associated with litigation. However, an uncontested divorce may not be for everyone.
If you are considering filing for an uncontested divorce in Texas, speak with a trusted divorce attorney at the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to understand your options. Our attorney is committed to assisting clients with their divorce and other family law matters. We handle both contested and uncontested divorce in Texas.
Get your free case review with our uncontested divorce attorney in Texas by calling (254) 220-4225. You could also complete our contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.