In Texas, an agreed-upon divorce is the same as an uncontested divorce. Typically, there are three categories of divorce:
An uncontested divorce in Texas means that an individual and their spouse have agreed on how to divide their property and debts and are working together to dissolve their marriage without litigation. With an agreed divorce, both spouses are required to sign all of the paperwork and cooperate together to navigate the mandatory court procedures efficiently.
The spouse who files first in divorce is called the petitioner. The other spouse is referred to as the respondent.
In addition, if there are any minor children born or adopted by the spouses, they must agree on how to handle child custody and support. In an agreed-upon divorce in Texas, the couple typically agrees to follow the Texas child support guidelines.
The majority of divorce cases actually resolve when the parties reach an agreement before they go to trial. It is rare for a divorce, including ones involving high net-worth spouses and celebrity divorces, to end in a trial.
Courts encourage the parties to reach an agreement. Typically, mediation and settlement meetings are held before a trial occurs.
Litigation against a spouse can be expensive, especially if both parties have hired expensive lawyers. Because of this, it is important for the spouses to reach an agreement as soon as they can.
This is considered one of the more effective ways to control and possibly even reduce the cost of a divorce. An individual and their spouse may have many assets, such as homes, retirement accounts, businesses, or other complex issues. Because of this, it is important to speak with an attorney prior to entering into an agreement with a spouse.
How Do I File an Agreed Divorce in Texas?
Assume an individual has reached an agreement with their spouse and needs assistance completing all of the legal paperwork or instructions on finalizing their divorce with their local district court. In that case, they should consider consulting with a Texas lawyer.
Where an individual should file their divorce is based on where they reside. The divorce may be filed in the district court county where either of the parties has lived for the last 90 days, so long as they have also lived in Texas for at least six months before filing.
If the spouse who is filing for divorce lives outside of Texas, they can file the divorce in the county in Texas where the other spouse resides, so long as that spouse has lived in Texas for six months. An individual can visit the Texas.gov website https://guides.sll.texas.gov/divorce/filing-for-divorce for more information on forms and steps to take.
Filing for a divorce may seem difficult, but there are services available to make the process easier and less stressful. There may be differences for different situations, such as if a spouse is in the military or there are minor children.
Sometimes, the spouses have children under the age of 18. If so, they have to file paperwork for an agreed divorce with minor children, which is the Agreed Divorce with Children form. An uncontested divorce will not be awarded for couples who have minor children.
Instead, a form of an agreed divorce is granted. This means that the spouses have to agree on all of the issues related to the divorce, including child custody and child support alimony, if applicable, and are willing to sign all of the court forms.
It is important to note that there cannot be any court orders for custody or child support already in place.
How Much Is an Agreed Divorce?
The cost of an agreed divorce in Texas will depend on the type of case and whether a mediation attorney is needed. The filing fee for an agreed divorce is currently $300. This means the spouses can file their agreed divorce themselves for $300. The local clerk’s office can assist the parties.
If the parties need a mediation attorney to help them reach their agreement, the cost is an average of $3,500.
What Are the Texas Residency Requirements for Divorce?
As noted above, an individual can file for divorce in the county where they live or where their spouse lives if the individuals live in different counties. The individual or their spouse must meet the following requirements:
- Lived in the county they plan to file in for at least 90 days;
- Resided in Texas for at least six months before filing the divorce petition; and
- These same residency requirements apply to members of the military and their spouses, although they may only be stationed in Texas and are not legal residents.
It is important to note that children also have residence requirements. In the State of Texas, for a court to have jurisdiction over initial orders for custody and visitation, the children must have either:
- Lived in Texas for at least the previous six months or since birth;
- Texas must be the home state of the child; and
- At the time the divorce is filed, the child must have been out of Texas for less than six months.
It is important for an individual to use the correct set of forms when they file for divorce, as there are different forms for different family situations. If each of the parents resides in a different state, reviewing the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act may be of assistance.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Texas?
Texas allows the party filing for divorce to decide if they want to file a fault or a no-fault divorce. With an uncontested divorce, the parties have to agree on the grounds for filing for divorce and file their paperwork listing one of the no-fault grounds.
There are seven grounds for divorce in Texas, split into fault and no-fault categories. Fault grounds include:
- Abandonment for at least one year; and
- Felony criminal conviction.
No-fault grounds include living apart for at least three years or confinement to a mental hospital. Another common ground for divorce is the inability to provide support.
This arises when the spouses claim there are irreconcilable differences without hope for reconciliation as the reason for their divorce. Because irreconcilable differences are considered a no-fault ground, it does not require the parties to show that either spouse has done something wrong.
No matter what grounds for divorce are used, the other spouse cannot block the divorce by refusing to sign the applicable forms or refusing to participate in the divorce process. When a party files for divorce, they typically pay a filing fee.
If an individual needs to have their spouse served with the paperwork, they must also pay an issuance fee and a service fee, which may vary by county. An individual can contact the district clerk’s office in the county where they plan to file for divorce to find out the fees and other requirements.
There is also a procedure available for individuals who cannot afford the fees. If this applies to an individual’s situation, they can request that the court waive the fees by completing and filing a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs.
What Is the Duration of a Divorce?
In the majority of cases, an individual must wait at least 60 days before completing their divorce. The 60 days begins on the date the individual filed their Original Petition for Divorce on a calendar, including weekends and holidays.
If the 60th day falls on a weekend or holiday, the individual should go to the next business day. There are only two exceptions to this required waiting period.
An individual’s spouse might have been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a crime involving family violence against the individual or a member of their household. If that is the case, the 60-day waiting period will be waived. In addition, an individual might have an active protective order or an active magistrate’s order for emergency protection against a spouse because of family violence during the marriage. If so, the waiting period will be waived.
Do I Need an Attorney to Get a Divorce in Texas?
If you are considering an agreed divorce in Texas, it is important to consult with a Texas divorce lawyer. The laws that govern divorce in Texas may be complex and nuanced, so it is important to have a professional on your side.
If you have already begun divorce proceedings, your lawyer can still help you through the process and ensure your interests are protected. Your attorney can assist you through the entire process of the agreed divorce and provide advice to ensure you properly complete and file the necessary paperwork.