With all the horror stories you may have heard about the divorce process, it is hard to believe there is such a thing as an “uncontested divorce.” Does it exist? What is it? Is it right for me? While it certainly does exist, it is not appropriate in every situation.
Whether an uncontested divorce is right for you depends on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Read on to learn more about uncontested divorces and whether the process is right for you.
What is an uncontested divorce?
An “uncontested” divorce is one in which there are no disputes between the parties. A soon-to-be “ex-wife” and “ex-husband” are essentially able to sit down at the kitchen table and work out all the details of their divorce. For example, they will be able to discuss and agree on things like:
- Where their children primarily reside and with whom;
- Where their children go to school;
- Who is responsible for paying child support and what amount,
- When each parent sees the children;
- How holidays are divided; and
- How the estate’s assets and liabilities are divided between the parites.
The agreement of the parties is then written up and submitted to the court. A final judgment is granted based upon those terms.
How long does an uncontested divorce take in Texas?
Every divorce case in Texas, whether contested or uncontested, has a mandatory 60 day waiting period from the date of filing an Original Petition for Divorce.
That means a court cannot finalize a divorce until the 61st day after an Original Petition for Divorce was filed. The 60 days provide ample time for the parties to come to an agreement and ensure that their agreement is accurately reflected in an Agreed Final Decree of Divorce.
Is my case a good candidate for an uncontested divorce?
Maybe. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do I trust my spouse?
- Can we communicate openly and effectively?
- Can we agree on a possession and access schedule?
- Is the possession and access schedule workable long term?
- Can we address expenses for the children and payment of child support?
- Do I have equal access to and knowledge of our finances?
- Do I need future support, and is that something my spouse is willing to provide?
If your answer to these questions is “yes,” then you very well may be an appropriate candidate for an uncontested divorce. If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, then an uncontested divorce is probably not for you.
In order to work out a final agreement that is fair and comprehensive, both parties must be able to communicate effectively and understand the financial aspects of their estate. While compromise is necessary, you should not feel like you are sacrificing on every point just to keep the peace.
Certain cases should never consider an uncontested divorce. A case that involves a history of family violence, cruel treatment, or emotional abuse should not proceed down an “uncontested” path. Likewise, a case that involves fraud, mismanagement of funds, or wasting of community assets also should not be resolved at the kitchen table.
Keep in mind that the opposite of an uncontested divorce is not necessarily a contested one. A case can still be resolved efficiently and amicably without a yearlong court battle that costs upwards of $20,000.
A skilled lawyer can assist in investigating and negotiating even the most sensitive or complicated issues. While going to court should be treated as a last resort, it is, at times, necessary to ensure a fair and equitable outcome.
Do I need a lawyer in an uncontested divorce?
The simple answer from a lawyer is “yes.” Divorce is no time to dive into your first (or hundredth) DIY project. While you may be able to find relevant forms online or at a local law library, it is important that you submit and file the correct documents. It is equally important that the documents filed are complete and address every aspect of your case.
The ethics rules forbid a lawyer in Texas from representing both parties to a divorce, but at least one of the parties should retain divorce counsel. This will help streamline the process and reduce the chances that an uncontested divorce turns into a contest several years later.
How much does an uncontested divorce cost?
The dreaded “it depends” rings as true in an uncontested divorce as it does for all other cases. The cost of any divorce depends on the facts and circumstances of the case.
Suppose you and your spouse work out most or all the details of your divorce. Your only need is to file an Original Petition for Divorce, arrange for service and draft the Agreed Final Decree of Divorce. In that case, the cost should be below $5,000.
If, however, you have questions about the agreement, such as whether the division of property is equitable or whether the child support amount is appropriate, then the cost starts to increase. The more a lawyer is involved, the more hours you will be billed and the more it will cost you.
How can a lawyer help with my divorce?
Involving a lawyer early in the process can ultimately minimize the cost of your divorce. Whether uncontested or not, a lawyer can pinpoint the issues in your case and outline possible outcomes and minimum requirements according to Texas law. With the help of an attorney, you can confidently sit down and work out a fair and comprehensive agreement that gets you what you deserve.
You don’t have to do it alone
Divorce is never easy, but it does not have to be complicated. You need someone who will look out for you and protect your interests. You don’t have to go through this process alone. When you hire us, we will take care of everything from start to finish, so that you do not have to worry about anything except getting on with your life after divorce.
If you still have questions about an uncontested divorce, please call our office or contact us at The Stout Law Firm, PLLC to discuss your options.