Getting divorced can be one of the most stressful life changes a person can go through, but it does not have to be. Pursuing an uncontested divorce is one of the most stress-free ways to go your separate ways and start your new normal. With the help of an experienced attorney, you and your spouse may be able to agree on all of the most important aspects of your divorce. Doing so will save you, your spouse, and your children the burden of intense and stressful litigation. There is no need for you to go to court for a formal trial in an uncontested divorce.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
Texas is considered a no-fault divorce state, meaning a couple can pursue a divorce without one or both spouses asserting that the other spouse was at fault for the divorce. There are two main types of divorce — contested and uncontested. An uncontested divorce means that the divorce is finalized without any major disagreements between the spouses. An uncontested divorce is a no-fault divorce. When one party seeks to blame the other, seeking an uncontested divorce is impossible.
When a couple goes to court in an uncontested divorce, the events tend to be less dramatic and more procedural. Uncontested divorces can save time, legal fees, and emotional trauma for the parents and children involved. To obtain an uncontested divorce, both spouses need to agree on all the aspects of the divorce, including the following:
- Child arrangements: child support, child custody, child possession and visitation, and child medical support
- Property division
- Division of assets and debts
- Spousal support (alimony)
These are some of the most hotly contested issues and many divorces. When a couple cannot agree on these issues, they will need to pursue a contested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, the couple affirms all their decisions in an informal divorce settlement agreement or a mediated settlement agreement. In a mediated settlement agreement, the couple discusses their case with a third-party, neutral mediator who can help them agree on any issues they still have unresolved. Couples can also have an agreed divorce decree. These agreements are acceptable and can be made legally binding by the court, with a few exceptions.
My Spouse is at Fault for My Divorce, Can I Still Pursue an Uncontested Divorce?
What happens if your spouse engaged in misconduct, and that is the reason you are pursuing a divorce? Perhaps you discovered that your spouse was engaged in an adulterous affair, and that is when you decided to get divorced. You may be wondering if you can still pursue an uncontested divorce if one spouse is at fault. Sometimes the idea of an uncontested divorce can trigger questions about who was at fault for the divorce.
Texas is a no-fault state, and you do not have to prove that one or both spouses were at fault to get divorced. However, a person’s fault may come into play when separating debts, assets, and property. Fault can also affect child custody rulings, especially when the nature of the fault could demonstrate that spending time with one parent would not be in the child’s best interest.
If there is an issue of fault that could have an effect on child custody matters, spousal support, or child custody arrangements, you should discuss your case with an attorney. An attorney to advise you whether pursuing a fault-based, contested divorce could be the best option in your case. If the fault does not involve your children and you have decided you want to pursue an uncontested divorce, you can do so.
Can I Have an Uncontested Divorce if My Case Involves Child Custody Matters?
It is possible to pursue an uncontested divorce even if you have one or more minor children together with your spouse. If you and your spouse cannot agree on all of the major issues related to your children, you can go forward with an uncontested divorce. You will need to agree on parental rights and duties, child support, medical support, the child’s residential geographic restriction, child visitation, and access. It can be difficult for parents to agree on these important issues, but it is possible.
Do I Need to Go to Court for an Uncontested Divorce in Texas?
An uncontested divorce case usually moves through the system quickly. Most of the work required for spouses to reach an agreement happens outside of the courtroom in private. Even in an uncontested divorce, at least one spouse will typically have to go before the judge to answer questions, and a “prove up” hearing. The judge wants to ask questions and make sure that both spouses truly and fully understand the consequences of their actions and agree on the uncontested divorce.
It is up to the judge to grant the divorce, and divorce has lasting consequences because it is a serious legal decision. The judge needs to ensure that both parties are confident in their decisions and confirm that each spouse is signing the divorce agreement voluntarily under their own free will and without being under duress.
The “prove up” hearing is mostly a formality and usually is not critical to the case’s outcome. There is typically no need for a lengthy and formal trial in an uncontested divorce. In most cases, the judge will grant the divorce under the terms the spouses have agreed upon. However, there is still a mandatory waiting period until the divorce is finalized. The mandatory waiting period is 60 days in most cases. There is a possibility that the “prove up” hearing will be virtual due to the COVID pandemic. You may be required to use a phone, video, or computer to attend.
Obtaining a Mediated Settlement Agreement in an Uncontested Divorce
If one of your main goals is to stay out of court, but you are having difficulty agreeing with your soon-to-be ex-spouse on one or more issues, pursuing mediation can help you. Mediation is a private process that happens out of court. You will work with a third-party mediator who can help you iron out some of the differences you are having. The mediator will not push you toward one solution or another but will help you facilitate dialog for the purpose of coming to an agreement. In many cases, the mediator will draft a mediated settlement agreement when the spouses agree on all of the major issues in their divorce.
The spouses and their attorneys will have the opportunity to sign off on the agreement. The attorneys can file the agreement with the court and they will be entitled to a judgment, also called a decree, based on the mediated agreement. If there are not any other issues and the judge is satisfied with the agreement, he or she can enforce the agreement as part of the final divorce decree. However, the immediate settlement agreement on its own is not legally enforceable without a judge enforcing it in court.
Uncontested Divorce: Final Decree
You may not have to pursue mediation to stay out of court. If you and your spouse can agree on all divorce-related issues, your attorneys can draft a final decree of divorce. The final decree of divorce will address all divorce-related issues, such as asset distribution, property division, child custody, child visitation, and spousal support. Typically one attorney will draft an agreement and the other attorney will discuss it with their client.
You may need to negotiate certain aspects of the agreement before it is finalized. Once both parties agree on the terms of the draft, they can file it with the court. There will be a short hearing in front of the judge. The judge will review the draft agreement. As long as the judge thinks it is fair and that both parties assent to the terms of the agreement, the judge can finalize the divorce after the required waiting period is complete. Working with an attorney is crucial because the draft agreement will likely become your finalized divorce decree. It is important that your attorney addresses all of the major issues in your divorce because you will have to comply with the draft once it is finalized.
The Benefits of Pursuing an Uncontested Divorce
In Texas, contested divorce cases are either resolved by a jury trial or a judge. When the parties can agree on one or more important issues in the divorce, the divorce is considered contested, and a judge will need to decide on the contested issues. A contested divorce tends to be more drawn out, expensive, and emotionally draining. Contested divorces may involve a trial, mediation, or arbitration. The parties will lose control over how their case is resolved because a judge or jury will ultimately resolve the issues. When you pursue an uncontested divorce, you can avoid many of these problems.
One of the main reasons people pursue a non-contested divorce is to save money. Traditional attorneys charge by the hour and may not be incentivized to keep legal expenses down. The more conflict you and your spouse have, the more legal work will need to be done, and the more attorneys who bill you per hour will make from your case. At Divorce Concierge, We offer flat-rate divorce fees so you can understand exactly how much you will have to pay for your divorce.
We believe that divorce shouldn’t result in people suffering serious financial harm and going bankrupt. Nearly all uncontested divorces have been cheaper than traditional divorces in the long run. In an uncontested divorce, most of the legal work is done outside the courtroom. Since there is not a formal, lengthy trial or adversarial court proceedings, it will significantly cut down the attorney’s fees and costs.
The Divorce Prove-Up Hearing
If you pursue an uncontested divorce, you will have to go to court for a “prove-up hearing.” This type of hearing may seem intimidating, but it is not. It is a short hearing in which the judge will ask you some general questions about whether you agree to the proposed divorce decree. This is the last step in the uncontested divorce process and will probably be the only time you will have to appear in court. Many judges in Texas do not even require parties to appear in court for their final hearing.
It is possible that you may be able to finalize your divorce without any type of court appearance. It depends on the judge. If you do have to appear in court, this hearing is a relatively painless process. Your attorney can help you prepare for the hearing by telling you what types of questions the judge will ask you. Since you have already agreed to all of the major aspects of your divorce, you and your spouse will not be arguing with each other, presenting evidence, or having to answer intrusive questions. Once you answer a few short questions from the judge, you can move forward with a final divorce decree and start a new chapter in your life.
What Do I Need to Know Before Going to Court for an Uncontested Texas Divorce?
Amicable divorces that do not involve a lot of back-and-forths, accusations, and extensive litigation do not often make headlines. However, friendly divorces are more common than most people realize. You may think that the process will be simple because your divorce is friendly and you and your spouse agree on all the major issues. In many cases, an uncontested divorce is simple, but working with an attorney can help you ensure that the process moves along quickly and effectively.
Whether you are pursuing a contested or uncontested divorce, keep in mind that the process is serious. You may want to agree to an aspect of your divorce that you do not feel comfortable agreeing to as a way to keep the process moving. If you want to get a divorce quickly, it can be tempting to do this. Avoiding a contested divorce can save you time and money. However, it is important to remember that once the judge has entered the divorce decree, it is extremely difficult to modify the terms of that agreement.
For example, suppose you do not feel comfortable allowing your spouse to have physical custody of your children every other weekend. Perhaps your soon-to-be-ex-spouse engaged in abuse or anger issues before you moved out. You may be tempted to agree to this type of custody arrangement to get the divorce finalized and begin moving on and healing. You may regret agreeing to this arrangement later, though.
Make Sure You Carefully Consider Your Divorce Agreement
It is possible to petition the court to modify the child custody agreement after the divorce is finalized, but it is much more difficult. You will have to show a substantial change in your circumstances or wait three years. Judges are not as likely to modify agreements when the couple has recently stated that they agree to the terms of the child custody agreement. In short, it is important to take the time you need to carefully consider every aspect of your divorce and make sure that you agree with it before you sign an uncontested divorce decree.
Tips for Making the Process Go as Smoothly as Possible
It can be beneficial to meet with a financial adviser to ensure that you and your spouse have divided all of your property, debts, and assets fairly. If you and your spouse can agree on most issues but are still stuck on an issue, you may want to consider working with a mediator who can guide you toward a solution that works for both of you. Solving the last or last few issues will allow you to pursue an uncontested divorce and save a significant amount of time and money.
When it comes to uncontested divorces, the best-case scenario involves a couple with no real property, such as a land or a house; no children; and no other significant assets. However, the majority of the worst cases are not as straightforward as this scenario. Most couples will own some property, and many have children. If you want to pursue an uncontested divorce but you need to agree on issues that could be divisive, we recommend discussing your case with an attorney.
You can represent yourself in a divorce case without the assistance of an attorney. There are many resources available for you, and the Supreme Court of Texas even has paperwork kits for people pursuing divorce on their own. Unfortunately, the paperwork you will need to complete and the legal proceedings is confusing for lay people. Even when you agree on all the aspects of your divorce that could be divisive, the issues involving child custody and division of assets are still complicated.
Pursuing divorce without the help of an attorney can make the process become more complicated. At Divorce Concierge, we can help your uncontested divorce move along quickly while providing you with an affordable, flat-rate payment fee.
What Happens After We Go to Court?
Each County in Texas has its own court proceedings and requirements for divorce cases. Typically, after filing your paperwork for an uncontested divorce and paying your filing fees, you will need to go through the mandatory 60-day waiting period. This. It is sometimes called a cooling-off period. The purpose of this waiting period is for couples to take some time to make sure that pursuing a divorce is what they want.
You may be wondering if you would have to go through this waiting period with an uncontested divorce. The answer is yes. The waiting period is required even in an uncontested divorce. Once the waiting period is over, there will be a final hearing. As mentioned above, this hearing is not as stressful as hearings and contested divorce cases. You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will not be arguing about the terms of the divorce or trying to prove that the other person is not telling the truth.
Instead, you will likely need to answer some questions and affirm that you are both in agreement that you want to dissolve your marriage. Most of the time, the judge will accept the terms you have already come to and enter them as a Final Decree of Divorce. Once the court enters that decree, your marriage will be officially dissolved. From this point onward, both parties are not married to each other in the eyes of the law. You will be a separate entity financially and legally, but you will still be required to adhere to the divorce agreement terms. You will not be able to get married again for at least 31 days after your divorce.
Want to Get a Divorce Without Having to Go to Court?
For many people, going to divorce court and arguing about why you are getting divorced in front of other people is stressful and nerve-wracking. Most people do not want all of their private businesses to be aired in public. Pursuing an uncontested divorce is one way to avoid having to argue with your spouse in court about the specific aspects of your divorce.
The attorneys at Divorce Concierge have helped many clients pursue the smooth and private divorce they want without going to court and undergoing a lengthy trial. An uncontested, amicable divorce is more common in Texas than most people realize. The attorneys at Divorce Concierge are here to answer your questions and help you understand whether you are eligible for an uncontested divorce.
Reach Out to an Uncontested Divorce Attorney in Texas
At Divorce Concierge, we offer clients affordable, flat-rate service packages to pursue an uncontested divorce. We help clients take control of their future by taking control of their uncontested divorce. Our skilled divorce attorneys provide clients with different service options for uncontested divorce that are affordable, flat-fee, and have no surprises. Reach out to Divorce Concierge today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about your options.