A divorce is often a contentious proceeding, stressful to the divorcing couple and their children. The stress can be decreased if the parties can agree on all the issues and avoid court intervention or a trial. With this in mind, Texas provides a way for married couples to have an uncontested divorce in two types of circumstances: 1) the parties agree on all the issues; or 2) one party fails to file a written response to the petition for divorce that was filed in the family law court.
Uncontested When the Parties Agree on the Resolution of All Issues
In order to file for divorce in Texas, one of the parties must have resided in the state for six months. The process begins when one party, the petitioner, files a petition for dissolution of the marriage in the family law court of the county where the petitioner or respondent has resided for at least 90 days.
The Respondent is the term for the one who did not file the divorce petition. In an uncontested divorce, which is also referred to as an “agreed upon” divorce, the respondent may file a Waiver of Service, signed and notarized, or an answer. The parties then prepare, and both sign, a Final Decree of Divorce with the court in which they list all the terms they have agreed upon, and the details of their agreement, which should include:
- Division of Assets.
- Distribution of debts.
- Child custody.
The document, signed by both parties is provided to the court for its signature at a prove-up hearing where, in an uncontested divorce, only the petitioner has to appear. The court will most likely approve the terms of the agreement if it seems fair. There are some cases where the court will review financial documents if it appears the agreement is unbalanced or unfair. We recommend hiring an uncontested divorce attorney even if you and your future spouse are in agreement. They can ensure that your best interests are kept at the forefront of negotiations during the divorce proceedings.
The Final Divorce Decree must be signed by the judge. The parties then must file it the office of the District Clerk. It is the final order with which both parties must comply.
An Uncontested Divorce by Default: When the Respondent Fails to Respond
If the Respondent does not file an answer to the petition within the required number of days, on the 61st day after the petition was filed, the court may hold a hearing at which the petitioner submits a prepared Final Divorce Decree which articulates how the petitioner wants the issues resolved. The court will likely sign it and it becomes the final order of the court. Even though the respondent never answered, he or she is still required to follow the order of the court.
Contact an Uncontested Divorce Lawyer in Houston, Texas Today
Call now to schedule a free case evaluation with the Law Offices of Frank E. Mann P.C., an attorney team experienced with uncontested and no fault divorces in Texas. Frank E. Mann has over 30 years of experience as an uncontested divorce lawyer and he can help you move the process along swiftly so that you can move on with your life.